Sunday, August 26, 2012

If We See Something, Are We Not Supposed to Say Something?

Gary Fouse

The below article was written by my friend and colleague Karen Lugo, a Constitutional Law expert who teaches at Chapman University. As we know, Janet Napolitano has launched a call for American citizens, "If you see something, say something." That sounds reasonable, but when people do speak out about what they see happening, the administration is quick to try and shut them down. Rep. Michele Bachmann quickly comes to mind.

See Something, Say Something, Run For Cover
Karen Lugo

The record of testimonies and statistics presented at Rep. Peter King's five hearings on Islamist radicalization demonstrated that America faces a serious problem; just thestory of Melvin Bledsoe, whose son was radicalized by the Nashville Muslim Students Association and a Tennessee mosque to eventually commit jihad murder at the Little Rock recruiting center was all that Americans really needed to hear.  This heartbreaking story alone highlights the systemic failings that still contribute to denial of this crisis.

In July, the House Appropriations subcommittee held a hearing on the FBI’s handling of the Fort Hood massacre.  Rep. John Carter who represents the district that includes Fort Hood was allowed to question the FBI official, although not a member of the subcommittee.  He was rightfully indignant at the level of political correctness that still hamstrings the very agencies established to monitor radicalism and thwart attacks: “If [Nidal Hasa] yelled out ‘Jesus Christ is God,’ would they have said Christians were involved? I mean, at what point does it get to be Islamic terrorism? That’s the simple question. Answer that one,” Carter said.

Rep. Michele Bachmann has attracted bolts of invective for raising legitimate, but inconvenient, concerns about high level Islamist infiltration of government.  If a member of the House Intelligence Committee who is charged with the essential duty to “say something” if she “sees something” is ridiculed by establishment politicians and left undefended when Islamist agitators blame her for inciting murderous hate, the average person takes away a powerful lesson: if you see something, whatever you do, don’t say anything.

Largely overlooked in this controversy is a fifteen-page letter from Bachmann to Muslim congressman Keith Ellison in which she chronicles the current administration’s blasé relationship with arguably dangerous Islamists; those with connections to expansionist wahhabist groups or terrorist inciters.  She explains that the congressional signatories to her request for an inquiry by the State Department’s inspector general are concerned with the positioning of Hillary Clinton’s top deputy, Huma Abedin (evidentiary record presented by Andrew McCarthy and Andrew Bostom here and here), and they question the administration’s outreach to court-noticed Muslim Brotherhood-associated groups as well as the decision to grant a visa to  Hani Nour ("did-no-one-google-him?") Eldin,a member of a U.S. designated terror organization.

Yet, in light of the published record of Abedin’s past connections to Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas activists, President Obama -- hosting a White House Iftar dinner -- went out of his way to honor Huma Abedin “for her patriotism, grace, and generosity of spirit and “extraordinary representation of our country.”

When government short-cuts important structural processes that serve the ends of security and safety, asking why is obligatory -- not scandalous.   According to Ambassador John Bolton “what these members of Congress have done is simply raise the question to a variety of inspectors general in key agencies — are your departments following their own security clearance guidelines?”

Related concerns over government streamlining of required process – one much closer to most American neighborhoods -- is growing alarm over the siting of mosques and whether prescribed regulatory scrutiny is given to the permitting process.  Very similar complaints of expedited process and short-circuited deliberations (two current examples herehere, and here), as compared to other religious land use applications, are being registered across the country.  Fueling community fears, the Department of Justice has been tipping the scales -- in what some communities are calling a precipitous fashion -- by weighing in on the side of the mosque proponents. A Wall Street Journal article shows the Justice Department is increasingly intervening on behalf of mosques with 16 of 26 probes in the past decade occurring in the 15 months preceding August 2011.

While some mosques are legitimate houses of worship, many have proven to be radicalization centers as an exhaustive empirical study presented on this quandary demonstrates.  The conclusions, based upon indicia of violent materials, promotion of jihadism, and adherence to strict sharia, reached in Shari'a and Violence in American Mosques indicate that “Islam -- as it is generally practiced in mosques across the United States -- continues to manifest a resistance to the kind of tolerant religious and legal framework that would allow its followers to make a sincere affirmation of liberal citizenship.”

As localities approve variances to allow siting of the mosques in residential areas, residents have registered frustration at what they see as a short-cutting of the statutory tests for how a particular use will impact traffic, parking, and other infrastructure concerns.  If zoning scrutiny has relaxed, as compared to the deliberative response that other-than-Muslim religious land use applications receive, the streamlining of process in such cases prompts serious questions as to why mosque treatment appears to be preferential.

The example provided by European Islamic enclaves that have locked down under sharia law systems, thus denying assimilation opportunities and defying civil authority, cannot be ignored.  There are no easy answers as the American guarantees of individual liberty, religion freedom, and expressive rights must not be compromised but we will not reach solutions by muzzling those courageous enough to begin the discussion.

Intimidation and cowardice have long been the enemies of liberty and security, especially when the exercise of liberty and the concerns of security have been in tension.  American voters are responsible for holding elected officials accountable for enforcing security standards and this includes demanding that candidates speak to these issues in an informed and specific manner.

For the sake of all Americans, including secular Muslims, the discussion on how we achieve security while protecting liberty deserves respect.  Much of the tone for this debate will be set by how we treat the serious questions posed by Bachmann’s “National Security Five.”

What our leaders don't seem to understand is that it is not just seeing a suspicious person leaving a package unattended at an airport. There is cause for alarm going on all around us. There are citizens in this country who have taken the time to learn about the jihadist movement in America. Lugo is one of them. It is not a question of labeling all Muslims as threats. At the same time, however, the threats are out there. It seems that too many of our national leaders don't want to see anything.

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