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January 25, 2012

The Muslim-American Muddle

Topics: Political News and commentaries, Understanding Islam

From the very interesting and comprehensive essay on the real challenges Islam poses to America, by Boston College's Peter Skerry in National Affairs:

A decade after 9/11, America has reached a political and intellectual stalemate regarding the Muslims in its midst. Many Americans continue to fear their Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens, if not as potential terrorists then as terrorist sympathizers -- or, more generally, as the bearers of an alien culture shared by America's enemies.

Stoking these fears are a handful of zealous investigative journalists and bloggers who recycle a body of facts about the Islamist origins of most Muslim leaders and of virtually all major American Muslim organizations. Largely taken from the federal government's successful prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation, a Hamas front group, this evidence is incontrovertible -- yet its implications are far from clear. As critics repeat and re-examine them, the facts take on a frozen-in-time quality, like artifacts of political archeology never put into any wider context. The critics fail to acknowledge that individuals who once espoused Islamist views do not necessarily remain committed to them over time. People do mature beyond youthful folly and rage, and America causes immigrants to change.

On the other hand, our political, media, and intellectual elites routinely dismiss these findings as irrelevant ancient history. This, too, is a mistake, both substantively and politically: Though these Muslim leaders and organizations do not represent all (or even most) Muslim Americans, they do dominate the relevant political space. Moreover, their Islamist ideology has had, and continues to have, a formative influence on how Muslims think of their place in America and of America's relationship to the Islamic world. Elite opinion also systematically denies or ignores the fact that Islam is a dynamic, even aggressively proselytizing religion. This is not to suggest that Muslim-American leaders are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers; nor is it to criticize how they interpret the call to advance Islam. Like many Christians, many Muslims regard their own exemplary actions as the best way to spread their faith. Nevertheless, Muslim leaders readily acknowledge that not so long ago they dreamt of, as some have put it, "the crescent flag one day flying over the White House." For most leaders, perhaps for all, this fantasy has long since collided with reality. Yet its influence lingers.

Take the time to read the whole extensive, interesting and highly informative essay - here.

As Skerry goes on to point out, the lessons of history are many and complicated. But surely one is that, ordinarily, questions of loyalty have been worked out over time, as immigrants and their offspring assimilate and adapt to American society. Another is that these tensions have rarely been acted upon or seen as mortal threats. However, we are not living in ordinary times, and today's threats are more immediate (and Islamists represent an entirely different level of threat). We do not have the luxury of time to allow Muslims to sort out their loyalty to America. We -- and they -- must face the challenge now.

Might I suggest that American Muslims take the first step by getting past their notion of loyalty to the ummah and start putting their country - America - first.

Posted by Hyscience at January 25, 2012 8:26 AM

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