Sunday, October 5, 2014

Don't just do something, stand there

Image via Heather from the Grove.
So Eric Schmitt in the Times informs us that Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, is barnstorming the ummah, working to get America's Muslim youth off the path of terrorism.
His aim is to build partnerships between the federal government and the local law enforcement, educational and community groups that are better positioned to detect potential militants in their midst and to derail those young men and women from the path of radicalization before they turn violent.

These efforts have been underway since the Sept. 11 attacks, but have often failed to gain traction, government officials acknowledge.
Hm, I wonder why. Maybe we could get an idea from community leaders at the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Dublin, Ohio, where Johnson was visiting last week, who

complained of humiliating border inspections by brusque federal agents, F.B.I. sting operations that wrongly targeted Muslim citizens as terrorists and a foreign policy that leaves President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in place as a magnet for extremists.

“Our relationship has to be built on trust, but the U.S. government hasn’t given us very many reasons to build up that trust,” said Omar Saqr, 25, the cultural center’s youth coordinator.
That remark about Assad shows that this is not a crowd that uniformly hates the projection of American military power (no doubt many do, but not all); what they have in common isn't a political stance, or a theological stance either, but a dislike for being insulted, manhandled, delayed in their personal business, or imprisoned without charge, which is, I believe, how most people feel, regardless of religion.

The Times article tells us of all kinds of steps DHS is taking to deal with this problem, from building gyms to electronic surveillance, but it doesn't have a word to say about the things the government might consider not doing. Like not subjecting people to this kind of mistreatment simply because they have Arabic names.

An opinion piece in today's Times by Eric Lewis notes that the Supreme Court has decided that corporations are persons for certain purposes (or superpersons, since they now not only have individual rights such as religious freedom, but also retain rights, such as limited liability, that mere people don't have), but detainees in Guantánamo, all of whom happen to be Muslims, aren't persons under the Fifth Amendment—literally—as when it declined to hear the appeal of a case Lewis argued, Rasul v. Rumsfeld, 2008.

That just brings dehumanization to a whole new level. I realize there's a reason for Americans to be frightened, but there's such a thing as being too frightened (there's a reason to be frightened of hepatitis C, too, and rising sea levels, but nobody's trampling anyone's civil rights over that): that's what terrorism is aimed at, bringing your fear out to the point where it harms you. Looks like it worked.

Cross-posted at Booman Tribune.

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