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.
Obama and the Feds will not have to look far for ready-made partners in this multi-culti cooperative. Conveniently, there are highly organized commissions already active in most communities that spout the same platitudes about inclusiveness and tolerance. These boards feel empowered by their quasi-government sponsorship to criticize any who engage in non-compliant speech. Those courageous enough to challenge political Islam or to expose dangerous radicals in the community are perversely subject to condemnation for creating an environment of “hate.”
There is great reason to fear a government alliance with local speechminder commissions. This is exactly what squelched the public debate in Great Britain and led to sharia districts, 85 sharia courts and sharia-compliant schools. If America does not heed the British lesson, the potential for similar, separate sharia societies is predictable. Of course, it is within these enclaves that real intransigent radicalization and deep division take root.
Rather than running for cover behind labels of inclusiveness, Americans must choose a different course. It is time for an honest conversation about the constitutional compact that organizes our society, one in which all who support inalienable individual liberty, freedom of conscience, speech and religion are invited to join. The U.K. has awakened to the fact of an embedded sharia culture whose values and laws run counter to the equality and personal freedom ostensibly guaranteed in the society. America still has time to participate in the speech and debate protections that provide the forum for reinforcing important American constitutional standards.
The European approach to multiculturalism has failed. From the murderous rampage in Oslo to the riots in London, critical inquiry and vigorous challenge of cultural values is required. More speech, not less, is needed. In the competitive marketplace of ideas, the thoughtful and reasoned voices will prevail, but only if allowed a hearing. The impulse to censor has historically resulted in the rise of those positioned to control the debate. While central control of something like speech may seem practical in the short term, this sacrifice of the most fundamental and important democratic mechanism on the altar of political correctness can only mean the ultimate demise of the entire freedom enterprise in the long term.