The search for the Boston bombers led to two (allegedly) terrible people who, so far as investigations have turned up, had absolutely no support from their family or local community.
Yet Rep. Peter King and others are now calling for heightened scrutiny of America’s Muslims because that’s where “the threat is coming from.”
That’s exactly wrong. One-hundred percent backwards.
Because the lesson of the past 13 years is exactly this: America’s Muslims have refused to radicalize.
A Rand Corporation report found that by 2010, only about 100 Muslims in America had joined a terrorist group, out of a population estimated at 3 million.
Meanwhile, a 2011 report by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland security found that American Muslims have been the best source of tips to law enforcement that have successfully thwarted terrorist attacks.
America’s Muslims have refused to radicalize. They’re on America’s side.
The quickest way to change that is to have our law enforcement agents unjustly target the millions of innocent Muslims who live here — to give them a reason to resent our legal system, rather than supporting it.
After all, they are not criminals — and our justice system should not be used to spy on people who aren’t committing crimes. That’s in the Bill of Rights, three spots down from the freedom of religion.
In fact, far more crimes have been committed against American Muslims in the last 12 years than have been committed by American Muslims. Their communities have endured hundreds of attacks every year — from shootings to arson to intimidation on the streets. American Muslims are far, far, more likely to be the victims of a hate crime than to commit an act of extremism. For law enforcement to target as criminals a group that is at heightened risk from actual crime is perverse, the worst kind of prejudice. You would protest if it were happening to you: We must not stand by and let it happen to others.
We don’t, frankly, have a good track record at this. The internment of Japanese Americans, the Jim Crow laws, the Chinese Exclusion Act, signs saying “No Irish Need Apply” … none of these things made us safer. Instead they were monstrous acts that we are still atoning for. To stand by America’s Muslims today is the best lesson of our history.
Let’s do better. Let us treat a “Muslim terrorist” the way we treat a “white school shooter” like Adam Lanza (killed 26) … and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (killed 13) …. and so on.
One of the key elements in defending a free society in the 21st century is to let our freedom be an asset. Our freedoms, our openness to new peoples, our willingness to let our neighbors live as they wish provided they follow the same laws we all obey, is inspirational. It draws people here and causes them to take our side — to choose the new world over the old. They make friends, establish roots across America and find a home; one they and their children are willing to defend.
Page 2 of 2 - We take that away when we give people reason to believe that no matter what they personally do, how hard they work or how honest they are, they will never find equality under the law. Someone who has reason to think he will always be under suspicion loses their attachment to a free society – because for them, it isn’t.
If we are going to be a free society, we need to take advantage of its power to bring people in rather than squander its inspiration. They'll believe in America if we do.
Benjamin Wachs writes for Messenger Post Media, and is the editor of Fiction365.com. Email him at Benjamin@Fiction365.com.