One popular feature of "On Faith," the online religion news feature of the Washington Post and Newsweek, is the "Guest Voices" column. They are typically short blog posts written by non-staff writers about an item in the news with a religious angle.
But apparently "On Faith" editors today were so interested in casting aspersions on today's Islamic radicalization hearings that they hastily reprinted, without proper formatting, the opening statement of L.A. County Sheriff Leroy Baca.
Here's an excerpt, as it was published, completely unedited:
LEE BACA SHERIFF - LOS ANGELES COUNTY MARCH 10, 2011 HOUSE COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY These are the prepared remarks of Lee Baca. This page will be updated once a live transcript becomes available. I appreciate the opportunity to add to a discussion on an important topic that affects all of our communities. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has long been a leader in the development of relationships with the various ethnic, cultural and religious communities that thrive in the Los Angeles area. Nowhere is that relationship more positive than that which exists between my agency and the American Muslim Community. We have established strong bonds through continuing outreach and physical presence at events important to the community and law enforcement. I would caution that to comment only on the extent of radicalization in the American Muslim Community may be viewed as singling out a particular section of our nation. This makes a false assumption that any particular religion or group is more prone to radicalization than others. According to the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), utilizing information provided by respected organizations such as the Congressional Research Service, the Heritage Foundation, and Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been 77 total terror plots by domestic, non-Muslim perpetrators since 9/11. In comparison, there have been 41 total plots by both domestic and international Muslim perpetrators during the same period. Reports indicate that American Muslims helped foil seven of the last ten plots propagated by Al-Qaeda within the United States. According to MPAC, evidence clearly indicates a general rise in violent extremism across ideologies. Clearly, we should be examining radicalization as an issue that affects all groups regardless of religion.
I think you get the point.
But surely "On Faith" provided another point of view for balance, right? Perhaps the testimony of Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, who also testified at the radicalization hearings today.
Although Dr. Jasser is a U.S. Navy veteran and an advocate of what he calls the "separation of church and mosque," his comments were not republished as an alternate "guest voice."
I've excerpted some of his testimony below (emphases mine):
The course of Muslim radicalization in the United States over the past two years makes it exceedingly difficult for anyone to assert with a straight face that in America we Muslims do not have a radicalization problem. From my perspective in our years of work of reform at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a lifetime of dedication to America, my faith, and my family, I see radicalization as my problem and as a Muslim I am not offended if you tell me that. In the end countering radicalization should be the obsession of every Muslim because if we do not what will be our legacy for our children?
So I come to you as a devout Muslim, and to give you a so far little heard viewpoint from that Islamic space, that shows our “diversity”. Those that have been struggling to get our leadership in mosques to reform and do the heavy lifting of modernization and enlightenment have been faced with too many obstacles inside and outside the Muslim community. We need to create a deeply rooted theological identification with this society and especially with the American legal system and the American identity. All of our security hangs in the balance of this reform, this Islamic enlightenment process. Only Muslims can figure out how to get our young adults to identify with secular western society and its ideas. Multiculturalism – political correctness‐‐ has prevented true ideological assimilation through the challenging or confrontation of certain Muslim theo‐political ideas that conflict with universal human rights and our democracy.
Prime Minister David Cameron addressed this in a very important speech he gave on February 5, 2011 at the Munich Security Conference that I have attached as Appendix 1. I am a physician and as one, I know when a patient comes in with many different symptoms, we are trained that they almost always have one unifying diagnosis that causes their illness. The radicalization of our youth is not due to the litany of non‐Muslim excuses. This cancer within an otherwise vibrant beautiful faith is at its core an identity problem that can only be resolved with Islamic reform‐ toward modernity and the separation of mosque and state.
Too many so‐called Muslim leadership groups in America, like the Council on American‐Islamic Relations (CAIR) or Muslim Advocates, have specifically told Muslims across the nation, for example, not to speak to the FBI or law enforcement unless they are accompanied by an attorney. Rather than thanking the FBI for ferreting out radicals within our community, they have criticized sting operations as being “entrapment”‐ a claim that has not stood the test of anti‐terrorism court cases since 9‐11. Informants end up being showcased as bad apples and subjects of lawsuits rather than patriots. While individual rights must always be protected, operations like the FBI conducted in December 2010 in Portland, OR are common place in other types of cases such as drug enforcement and racketeering cases. So why would they not be acceptable in terror cases?
As another example I have been present at Friday prayers in 2004 at one of the largest mosques in Arizona where a photo distributed nationally by CAIR and later proven to be doctored showed an American soldier standing with two young Iraqi boys holding a sign that says, “he killed my dad and knocked up my sister.” (Appendix 2) As offended as I was as a Navy veteran, the imam and CAIR ended up pathologically alienating the Muslims in that audience from an American heritage.
Jasser's testimony is available online at the House of Representatives website.