STERLING, Va. — As a Republican congressman prepares to open hearings on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser visited a mosque here on Sunday to reassure Muslims that “we will not stigmatize or demonize entire communities because of the actions of a few.”
The White House billed the speech by the adviser, Denis McDonough, as a chance for the administration to lay out its strategy for preventing violent extremism. But the timing was no accident; Mr. McDonough was in effect an emissary from the White House to pre-empt Representative Peter King of New York, the Homeland Security Committee chairman, who has promised a series of hearings beginning Thursday on the radicalization of American Muslims.
“In the United States of America, we don’t practice guilt by association,” Mr. McDonough told an interfaith but mostly Muslim audience of about 200 here at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, known as the Adams Center. “And let’s remember that just as violence and extremism are not unique to any one faith, the responsibility to oppose ignorance and violence rests with us all.”
“That’s absolute nonsense,” Mr. King said in a telephone interview, adding that Al Qaeda was trying to radicalize Muslims and that its effort was the leading homegrown terrorism threat.
“The threat is coming from the Muslim community,” he said, “the radicalization attempts are directed at the Muslim community. Why should I investigate other communities?”
“We have a choice,” Mr. McDonough said. “We can choose to send a message to certain Americans that they are somehow ‘less American’ because of their faith or how they look...If we make that choice,” he added, “we risk feeding the very feelings of disenchantment that may push some members of that community to violent extremism.”
President Barack Obama approved Monday the resumption of military trials for detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ending a two-year ban. It was the latest acknowledgement that the detention facility Obama had vowed to shut down within a year of taking office will remain open for some time to come.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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