Rep. King’s hearings: U.S. Muslim leaders must brave the lion’s den

The hearings that Congressman Peter King (R-NY) has called to discover what factors “radicalize” U.S. Muslims are a chance for non-interventionists to make an obvious point that so far has escaped the notice of almost all of the 535 federal legislators, the last four presidents, much of the media, and the academy; namely, that the United States is at war with an increasing portion of the Muslim world because of its interventionist foreign policy, especially its support for Israel and tyrannical Muslim regimes. More plainly, ongoing U.S. intervention in the Muslim world is the major engine of radicalization for young Muslims in the United States and abroad. [NB: As always, this is not to say U.S. policy either “caused” the war — America was attacked first, after all — or was made by mad policymakers. It is said to to suggest the worth of “knowing the enemy” by recognizing his motivation.]

To recognize this reality should not require congressional hearings. Nearly all of the Islamist militants captured in the United States have said, or have revealed in their paper and electronic documents, that there motivation for turning to violence was the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington’s unqualified support for Israel, and U.S. backing for Muslim tyrannies, especially in the Arab world. Similarly, most Islamists captured in Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, and elsewhere have likewise identified their motivation as U.S. and Western interventionism in the Muslim world.

Because it is unlikely in the extreme that Rep. King, his committee colleagues, or their aides will take the time to read the just-noted evidence or that Rep. King will call any non-interventionists to testify in his hearings, it seems likely that this opportunity to educate Americans about why they are fighting a growing religious war at home and abroad will go a glimmering.

This said, there is one group of U.S. citizens who could force their way onto Rep. King’s stage and that group is composed of the leaders of the U.S. Muslim community. To date, what we have heard from U.S. Muslim leaders about Rep. King’s hearings amounts to whines, hand-wringing, and a sort of nascent victim-hood not unlike that always assumed by the leaders of Israel-First whenever they, their actions, or their country of first loyalty are criticized. U.S. Muslim leaders, the media have reported, fear that the King hearings will feature Islam haters and pro-Israeli testifiers who will demonize Muslims and Islam by portraying Islam as an always violent religion that hates Christians and Jews and intends to impose Sharia law from Kennebunkport to La Jolla.

Well, I think that this could well be the result of Rep. King’s hearings — although the list of testifiers seems far from set — unless U.S. Muslim leaders show a little manliness and tell Rep. King and his mostly Israel-First colleagues what they know to be the truth in two broad areas:

1.) The radicalization of young U.S. Muslim males is less radicalization than a simple decision by some of them to act on the basic tenets of their faith and do what they can to defend Islam against what most of the Muslim world perceives as an attack on Islam and Muslims; namely U.S. and Western interventionist foreign policies. Through appearances at these hearings, U.S. Muslim leaders must have the moral courage to alert their fellow citizens to the fact that status quo U.S. foreign policy is driving Muslims at home and abroad to hate the U.S. government and its actions. They must speak clearly and explain that the major motivating engine for what Rep. King has described as “radicalization” is — and long has been — Washington’s intervention in the Muslim world, especially its unqualified support for Israel, military presence in Muslim lands, and protection of Muslim tyrannies.

All Americans desperately need to hear this from the leaders of the U.S. Muslim community. Indeed, it is in the vital interest of that community — if it is truly committed to integrating into U.S. society — and all Americans that this genie be let out of the bottle in an effort to promote countrywide debate on U.S. policy, as well as to prevent the further solidification of the Muslims-hate-us-for-our-freedoms dogma which otherwise may be all that is preached at Rep. King’s hearings by Neoconservatives, Israel-Firsters, Christian Evangelicals, journalists, and zany academics bent on securing taxpayer funds for their useless de-radicalization projects.

2.) Muslim leaders must also be honest about their faith and refrain from simply telling the hearings that “Islam is a religion of peace.” U.S. Muslim leaders know their faith does not have a tradition of turning the other cheek when it perceives itself to be under attack, which is the worldwide Muslim perception at the moment. (NB: Historically, few major world religions have had a turn-the-other-cheek tradition; witness Catholicism’s armed, crusading response to the provocation of Islam’s aggressive military expansion in the 11th and 12th centuries, and the unrelenting military actions of the theocratic state in Israel. The decision of contemporary Christian sects to defend their faith with whines as their brethren are being murdered is an anomaly in history of major religions.)

U.S. Muslim leaders know that all Muslims are required by God’s revelations to defend Islam against attack from within or without. They also know this action can in no way described as a “radical” response to such things as the Western occupations of Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, and Afghanistan; the Western-abetted theft of land and oil resources from Muslim Sudan to create a new Christian state; or Western support for unIslamic police states across the Arab world. U.S. Muslim leaders must tell all Americans through the venue of Rep. King’s hearings that status quo U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world is not only the main motivation but the irrefutable religious predicate for a scripturally legitimate defensive jihad. They should also state the obvious: That Islamic preachers trained and funded by Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood are encouraging young U.S. Muslims to embrace the most extreme and violent interpretation of this religious duty imaginable.

By acknowledging this reality, as we previously have discussed on this site, the above prescription for action by U.S. Muslim leaders is one that calls on them to take a risk that will make them targets for enormous criticism. Such testimony will earn for them such thundering slurs as America-basher, anti-Semite, Christian-hater, and numbers of other epithets. But U.S. Muslim leaders are in a lose-lose situation; if they do not manfully present the truth to Rep. King’s committee, they will give the entire game away to the Muslims-hate-us-for-our-freedoms crowd, which can only yield more violence by young Muslims against U.S. interests at home and abroad. In my own view, this is exactly what some Neocons, Israel-Firsters, and Christian evangelicals want.

In conclusion, I would add that all of the foregoing is based on my current acceptance, at face value, of the assertions repeatedly made by U.S. Muslim leaders that they intend to lead the U.S. Muslim community into becoming a viable, respected, peaceful, and integrated part of America’s social fabric and that they support the U.S. effort to defeat al-Qaeda and its allies. The hard reality, however, is that they cannot get to those goals from where they now stand; they have too many powerful and malevolent enemies in the U.S. governing and media elites, and they have been knowingly derelict in telling the truth to their fellow citizens. To refrain from speaking the truth in Rep. King’s hearings in order to avoid the vitriolic/hateful consequences of that truth-telling can mean one of only two things: (1) U.S. Muslim leaders abjectly lack moral courage or (2) they do not intend to integrate or want al-Qaeda defeated and see some advantage in allowing their opponents and critics to demonize Muslims as freedom-haters and so pave the way for more violence.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and he helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.