How do American Muslim’s become “radicalized?” Homeland Security Chairman, Peter King, is holding Congressional hearings to find out. We’ve had hearings to isolate groups of Americans before, remember the McCarthy hearings? Then, it was the fear of Communism among us, but now, it’s religion, which is unprecedented and frankly, is making some people feel a little squidgy.
What’s really behind King’s hearings anyway? Singling out a group for “investigation” usually comes from fear. We fear what we don’t know. There are many of us, frankly, that don’t know much about Islam. Not many Americans know how Muslims become radicalized, or how many radical Islamic fundamentalists there are in the US. King claims he’s “not trying to stereo-type” but wants to get to the bottom of the issue by talking to families whose kids have become radicalized, to members of the Muslim community and to law enforcement to try and get a read on what exactly is going on that could pose a threat to our country from within.
So, what do we know already? We know that al Qaeda is a radicalized branch of Islam aiming to kill us. We completely understand what that means – we will never forget 9/11. We have gone to war in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of that terror against us. But, these hearings are not about people far away in a far away land plotting to do us harm. They are about our people. Americans who we think might turn against us.
Homegrown terror is a serious threat. O.k., we get know that, too – we have wacky Christian fundamentalists who picket funerals of soldiers and bomb abortion clinics, Tim McVeigh who bombed the Oklahoma Federal Building, Islamic extremists who murdered people at Fort Hood and planted a bomb in Time Square. We are nervous about people willing to bomb targets and themselves in the process. Yep-it’s all super scary. So, how do we prevent someone from going to the dark side and prevent attacks against our society? This is what we don’t really know. So, how does putting one faith on trial get at the real problem? What about other extremists among us? The deadliest homegrown terrorist in our nation’s history was a white guy named Tim.
We remember how the McCarthy hearings put people’s political beliefs up for review and cost people their livelihoods and dignity, in the name of protecting America. No one thinks of the McCarthy days as being a shining moment in our nation’s history, so no one wants to go back there. Today’s hearings single out Muslims to determine how their religious beliefs become “radical” and if they are a danger to America. Newsflash: yes, radical anything is a potential danger to America.
So, here’s the other thing…
You know when you want juicy info from your kids? Do you sit them down in front of everyone and talk at them? Or, do you build a trusting relationship with your kids, so when you need the juice, you can have an ice cream MOMent and do a lot of listening? We have a conversation with our kids to get the really good stuff. Cuz it’s delicate.
We don’t criminalize people for their beliefs in America. We get to believe what we want to believe, as long as we live within the laws of the land. So, what happens when “free America” holds hearings that put the entire Muslim faith on trial, instead of trying to have a conversation with the leaders of the Muslim community, terrorism experts and whomever else we think might help us understand the psychology of radicalization and how to diffuse it? Outrage – home and abroad – which may in fact create more anger than understanding. It is the perceived alienation of the Muslim community, instead of the inclusion of it that is creating the criticism.
Opinionated MAMAS, “all eyes are on us,” so how should our country get to the heart of this issue? There is a lack of trust in our society. So, how do we build it back again? How do we have a constructive national conversation with the whole world watching? How do we engage the Muslim community even more as part of the solution in protecting our American community? We all have to believe that our American values and systems make us strong, not weak. Afterall, we tell our kids what defines their character is what they do when no one is watching. So, as a country, we cannot fear our freedom, we must respect it and defend it, whether or not anyone is watching.