And now for something completely different

In contrast to the insulting misrepresentations of Rep. Peter King and Rep. Frank Wolf during Thursday’s hearing, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough recognized the tremendous contributions of the American Muslim community to combatting domestic terrorism. From his remarks at the ADAMS Center on March 6:

Imam Magid is among the many Muslim leaders who have been recognized by the Director of the FBI for their efforts to strengthen cooperation between Muslim communities and law enforcement.

To counter the propaganda videos from the likes of al-Awlaki, Imam Magid even joined with other clerics and scholars to make their own videos, which have gone viral, explaining that Islam preaches peace, not violence. Most Americans never hear about these efforts, and, regrettably, they’re rarely covered by the media. But they’re going on every day—and they’re helping to keep our country safe.

As the President’s Deputy National Security Advisor, I’ve been responsible, for more than a year, for coordinating and integrating our efforts across the federal government to help prevent violent extremism in the United States. And today I want to discuss our approach, which we’ll be releasing publicly in the coming weeks.

Preventing radicalization that leads to violence here in America is part of our larger strategy to decisively defeat al Qaeda…

…we know there are many different reasons why individuals—from many different faiths—succumb to terrorist ideologies. And there is no one easy profile of a terrorist. But based on extensive investigations, research and profiles of the violent extremists we’ve captured or arrested, and who falsely claim to be fighting in the name of Islam, we know that they all share one thing—they all believe that the United States is somehow at war with Islam, and that this justifies violence against Americans.

So we are actively and aggressively undermining that ideology. We’re exposing the lie that America and Islam are somehow in conflict. That is why President Obama has stated time and again that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam.

And here is an answer that the witnesses called on Thursday by Rep. King couldn’t produce, after being asked repeatedly. This in no way is meant to denigrate the witnesses, or dismiss their horrifying experiences. I would be the first to argue that personal anecdotal stories are irreplaceable – but at the same time they are not a substitute for data and expert analysis:

After years of experience, we have a better understanding, not only of how terrorist recruiters try to radicalize people, but how we can reduce the chances that they will succeed.

We know, for example, that not unlike gang lords and drug dealers, terrorist recruiters prey on those who feel disillusioned or disconnected from their family, community or country. They target individuals who are perhaps struggling with their identity, suggesting to them that their identities as an American and as a Muslim are somehow incompatible and that they must choose between their faith and their country.

But we also know that this is a false choice and that it fails to resonate with individuals when they have the strong support of their families and communities; when they have faith in their ability to achieve change through the political process; and when they feel that they, too, have a chance to realize the American Dream.

Those are conditions that can be either encouraged or undermined through policy decisions.

We have a choice. We can choose to send a message to certain Americans that they are somehow “less American” because of their faith or how they look; that we see their entire community as a potential threat—as we’ve seen in several inexcusable incidents in recent weeks across the country that were captured on video

…Or, we can make another choice. We can send the message that we’re all Americans.

Frank Wolf’s disingenuous participation in King’s bigoted showboating, not to mention his earlier actions, undermines this mission. He does a grave disservice to his constituents with such behavior, and people are taking notice. A suggested letter to Mr. Wolf from his Muslim constituents reads in part:

..Most important, I am sorry you did not mention that your District includes one of the most progressive and highly cooperative Muslim organizations in America – the All Dulles Areas Muslim Society (ADAMS). Just today, ADAMS has again condemned any such extremism in our Friday prayer services. ADAMS has continually stood up against any radical activities, and has done many events with local police and with the FBI. This is exactly what Congressman King claims he wants to promote, and I am sorry that you did not mention this in your testimony. I am also sorry you forgot to mention that the various terror related incidents in Virginia, incidents like the Ashburn Metro bomber or the 5 youths who went to Pakistan, were all reported to the FBI by fellow Muslims. This was a major oversight and I hope you will be able to issue a press statement pointing out the Muslim Community cooperation that your District has shown so many times in the past.

Unfortunately, given past experience I doubt that a correction is forthcoming. Frank Wolf feels that he represents other interests.

Articles about this event:
White House seeks to reassure Muslims
National focus on Muslim radicalization debate
White House praises Muslims ahead of House hearing
White House to Muslims ahead of Rep. King hearings: Terror threat ‘real’
Obama Adviser Praises American-Muslim Anti-Terror Cooperation as Protesters Denounce King Hearings
White House Says U.S. Muslims Are Critical to Fight Against Terrorism
W.H.: Don’t ‘demonize’ Islam
White House Seeks to Allay Muslims’ Fears on Terror Hearings