Looking at Zuhdi Jasser, you wouldn't expect him to be a national lightning rod. Polished and polite, he is a medical doctor and Navy veteran who finds no contradiction between being a proud Muslim and a patriot willing to die for his country.
It is precisely that mutual love of Islam and America that led Dr. Jasser to speak out in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, when he was disgusted by a parade of Muslims taking to the media to blame "U.S. foreign policy" rather than Islamic fanaticism.
Of course, in covering Peter King’s (R-NY) hearings yesterday on Islamic radicalization at which Dr. Jasser testified, the media didn’t bother to tell his compelling and only-in-America life story.
Here’s the story that the mainstream media and left-wing critics have chosen to ignore.
Showing bravery that has been dishearteningly uncommon in the American Islamic community, Dr. Jasser decided to speak out not just against "terrorism" — most Muslim leaders have done that — but also against the teachings that foster the sense of Islamic victimization that motivates young Muslims to "defend" Islam and fellow Muslims by taking up arms.
While still maintaining a full-time medical practice, Dr. Jasser founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. He also joined with like-minded families in his community to start a new mosque in the Phoenix area. In the intervening years, his message has been gaining traction, and yesterday he was the star witness at the congressional hearings on Islamic radicalization.
Mainstream media and left-wing outlets alike have assailed the hearings almost from the moment they were announced earlier this year. What irks Dr. Jasser most about those critics is that they fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the hearings — just as they misunderstand the nature of the threat from homegrown terrorism.
Despite high-pitched critics painting a picture of Dr. Jasser as a sort of Islamic Uncle Tom, he never has said that violent rhetoric dominates discussion in mosques or elsewhere in the Muslim community. The problem is that the opposite isn't true, either.
Muslim leaders, he insists, have to be full-throated in condemning the justifications for violence against America — meaning that they need to be unapologetic in preaching the compatibility of deep Islamic faith and unabashed patriotism.
Thus, the problem he sees in the Muslim community isn't support for terrorism but rather a lack of clear opposition to the ideas of Islamic victimization that inspire and motivate young Muslims to become jihadists.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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