Monday, May 29, 2006

It could happen here...

This New Yorker opinion is very important. More needs to be done to stop potential home-grown terrorism:
The results are predictably depressing: a startling number of America’s several million Muslim residents think that the United States is not safe for them. A poll conducted by Zogby International just before the last Presidential election, for example, showed that more than a third of American Muslims believe that the Administration is waging a war on Islam; a similar number believe that “American society overall is disrespectful and intolerant toward Muslims”; and more than half said that they knew someone who had suffered discrimination. It is fair to assume that these numbers understate the problem. If you were a media-literate Muslim immigrant, would you express your frustration to a pollster on the telephone?

British and European Muslims are more often poor, unemployed, and trapped in segregated housing than their American counterparts, but this hardly seems grounds for self-congratulation or complacency, particularly in this country’s current phase of fence-building and nationalism. The Bush Administration has failed to manage the connection between immigration policy and counterterrorism strategy; instead, the President is succumbing to immigrant-bashers. The nativists are ascendant in the Republican Party as final negotiations begin in Congress on a major immigration-reform bill that is rooted in a demagogic movement to strengthen border security (a worthy objective, but not one likely to be achieved by such craven symbolic gestures as the deployment of National Guard troops). It is not clear whether a new law will be passed this summer, or just how bad a bill it will be. Even if a compromise is reached that offers a reasonable path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have long lived here, the price will almost certainly include an expansion of police powers and the re-categorizing of many immigration violations as felonies—a prescription for error and abuse.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the Washington Post last week that it is “very, very hard to detect” a jihadi terrorist who is “purely domestic, self-motivated, self-initiating.” The population in which such radicalization may occur is, of course, the one that is on the receiving end of our hysterical immigration debate. To impress upon immigrants that the federal sheriff and his posse will be riding yet again, that detention and expulsion await those whose papers are not in order, and that obtaining citizenship will prove, at best, a risky ordeal is not only unnecessary and wrong; it is dangerous. Almost five years after September 11th, we remain burdened by a President who believes passionately that he is at war and yet has only the most tenuous grasp of his enemy.
In fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed began his radicalization in an American college.


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