White House Moves to Reassure Muslims Ahead of King Probe

Posted: Mar 07, 2011 3:45 PM
Rep. Peter King of New York is conducting hearings this week that will explore the critical subject of domestic Islamic radicalization.  The White House is alarmed by this exercise (the investigation, that is) and apparently feels compelled to do some preemptive "damage control" with the Muslim-American community:

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.”

As Katie noted earlier, King is eschewing calls to broaden the investigation to include other groups, refusing to be cowed by political correctness:

“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?”

President Obama's deputy national security adviser says he's concerned that by investigating homegrown radicalized Muslims, King's hearings may...radicalize Muslims:

“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.

As the Left sees it, any controversial action undertaken by the United States to defeat the threat of radical Islam (Guantanamo, enhanced interrogation techniques, rendition, etc.) inevitably inflames the problem by offending Muslims, thus risking further radicalization.  How does this tautological phenomenon work, exactly?  A brief deconstruction:

Here we have a Congressman concerned about a violent strain of Islam gaining a foothold in American mosques holding hearings on that very subject.  The Left would have us believe that this alone might galvanize otherwise peace-loving Muslims to take up arms and join the jihad.  If that's true, McDonough's objection to King's hearings as "risky" inadvertently affirms the necessity of those hearings more persuasively than anything else possibly could.

Yet we continue to witness howls of protest from the political correctness police. One wonders what their alternatives might be.  Would they prefer willful ignorance as a central pillar of our national security strategy?  Are investigations that may offend certain segments of the population no longer acceptable?  Disregarding reality isn't just theoretically unhelpful; it's dangerous.  The radicalization of some American Muslims is an undeniable threat to our national security.  One of the most wanted men on the planet, Islamist imam Anwar Al-Awlaki, is an American citizen whose hateful brand of Islam influenced the Christmas Day bomber, the Times Square bomber, and the Fort Hood shooter.

A bipartisan report on Nidal Hasan's 2009 massacre directly cited political correctness as a contributing factor to the bloodshed, yet the relativist Left continues to insist that we avert our eyes in the face of unpleasantness.  Theirs is a naive, and ultimately harmful, worldview that must be defeated -- as it is finally being overcome in Europe. 

King's panel will move forward on Thursday, its critics' denunciations notwithstanding.  Will the American political class have the courage to honestly absorb and consider its findings, or will they carry on inveighing against "guilt by association," and the like?

UPDATE:  Will Denis McDonough decry this decision as potentially objectionable to "members of [the Muslim] community"?

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.