Karen Lugo

An administration known for double-speak recently announced a strategy for preventing violent extremism: compelling “inclusiveness.” Yet the real agenda is likely to establish a nationwide network of partners to monitor speech on issues like the debate over Islamic law. After noting that Muslims “have categorically condemned terrorism,” the vague strategy commits the federal government to work more closely with “local stakeholders” to stop extremism. If radical agents of Islam are really the targets of this new federal-local partnership, why in the eight-page program description is there no working definition of actionable extremism, no practical identification of extremists and no clear description of how extremists are recruited?

The only extremists named in the plan as recruiters to violence are those affiliated with Al Qaeda. Certainly this is a good place to start but singling out Al Qaeda does not even begin to address the problem of radicalization; Saudi Wahhabist money has now paid for the services of a probable 80% of America’s imams and clerics and controls much of the content of American universities’ Middle Eastern studies departments. At best, the message from these outlets is anti-American - and at worst it is sharia-based and sympathetic to jihadists.

What, in addition to ramping up Al Qaeda scrutiny, drives this federal effort to link up with partners in America’s towns and cities? According to the White House, the government is also concerned about what it considers to be the enemies of inclusiveness. The indicia that such phantom operators are present in the community include “actions and statements that cast suspicion toward entire communities, promot[ing] hatred and division, and send[ing] messages to certain Americans that they are somehow less American because of their faith or how they look.”

These descriptors are the same ones used to cast as Islamophobic those who credibly confront the issues associated with sharia in American culture. Thus, the government is offering partnership with the multiculturalist and Islamist groups that already impose tremendous censorship on community efforts to defend American constitutional culture. The government just avoids using the recently minted “Islamophobia” label. This will certainly lead to government mediation of cultural debates - and Europe teaches us what happens when government criminalizes speech on matters of public concern.

Karen Lugo

Karen Lugo is the Founder of the Libertas-West Project and a co-director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.