Obama: Our Muslim population feel themselves to be American

M. Akhtar, Ph.D.

During the Q&A portion of a joint press briefing with British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama suggested that when it comes to fighting radical Islam, the United States has a security advantage over Europe. It is not that our law enforcement or our intelligence services, etc., are so much better. It’s that our Muslim populations, they feel themselves to be Americans. President Obama is making a very powerful observation here that is infectiously positive and he gets our full commendation for it. For our reading it, however, let us rephrase it as: Muslims are becoming American and the law enforcement services should not take a prime credit for it. Beside Law Enforcement services who else should get credit for the transformation of Muslims, what are some of the positive and promising leads to consider for the transformation and in reducing the distance between Americans and Muslims- these are couple of questions that are explore in the following:

Muslims migrants in America are better in becoming Americans, yes. But they were generally better in quality to begin with –they were selected for it as they came on special quota, compared to the immigrants who went to England. A 2007 Pew poll disclosed only 5 % of American Muslims were supportive of Al Qaeda and 80% of them condemned suicidal attacks in any form. I trust that these statistics are considerably improved currently speaking. The same poll survey revealed the Muslim migrants who came to America with high hopes, had better education and found better jobs. Their average income and level of education, were found (Pew Poll) to be higher than any migrant group .All of this should have elevated Muslims to a high place in America- it probably did so, except for what happened as 9/11 in New York, that scared Muslims collectively and left them with with the stigma of terrorist for long time to come.. Strictly speaking what happened was an airplane with few foreigner unknown Muslims in it, collided deliberately hitting the World Trade Center .that is the extent of it. what was their motif and what groups they were trying to please? Nobody KNOWS. Yet a plausible theory at the time was that it was Muslims initiated and Muslims conspired-qualification of Muslim unspecified at the time. Let us shove these details aside; factual or non factual. What matters now is that American nation bought for a fact that Muslims did it with a plot to attack America. For the first year or so, American nation did not make a whole lot of it, nor did Muslims pay any attention to it. It is noteworthy that George Bush like a true President, visited the mosque at Washington,D.C and made a statement to praise Islam and to protect American Muslims from the possible harm by angry Americans. That patronizing of Muslims by a President of America was done once and was not repeated even by Busch until the beginning of 2015 when Obama’s statements (see the caption of this article) are pro Muslim The main thing that needs to be pointed out is the Anti Muslims reaction of resentment was not immediate or intense. it was slow and gradual in its development and collected steam that came from different sources of vested interests of politics, administration, and government machinery.

These agencies were assigned the responsibility to thwart Muslims conspiracy by finding as many terrorists out of them as possible, to prove their efficiency and show their own patriotism for America when the whole country was set to cheer them up. As regards dealing with the FBI’s visits and the inquisition, all Muslims could do was merely to deny the accusation and feel angry about it because they actually were innocent. To make matters worse, they also had naivety to open up to the FBI’s friendly chit chat and to disclose the details, peripheral they were in their exposition but they could be stretched to fit the picture of a conspiracy, an example would be sending money to one’s homeland that was a typical offense in these cases. Another specimen of naivety on their part was displayed by some well respected Muslim leaders for their attachment to their homeland because they were sending money there- for friends or even directly supported an organization there that was seen as sensible considering that country’s politics but was not considered sensible in American policy .(To harmonize or to avoid these conflicts in attachment, Americanization is recommended as a better and long term solution, according to MCA). Muslims did not try to hide them and FBI knew about those matters all the time but kept quiet until later when the revisions in instructions or the policy were made due to the changes in American politics, the same act that was fine at one time but was dubbed as illegal or conspiracy later on

Whatever my country judges as illegal, I accept it as illegal. What I see as a problem here, is to take illegal acts, conspiracy, bad politics, and cases of FBI’s erroneous judgments-as proven by the rulings of the American courts, got all lumped together and thrown in the basket of terrorism, In that broad sense, Terrorism became a mere reflection of the anti Muslim sentiments, rather than the act of terrorism. The anti Muslim sentiment in America has stayed unabated for about a decade (so would be Anti American sentiment in Muslim, I imagine, because it is reciprocal in nature). if this makes sense, it would call for a sharp separation of the sentiment as a composite category from terrorism as an act, the usage of which needs to be restricted The strict definition of terrorism should confine it only to the Act of physical violence and to the killing of people and nothing else Moreover, it will be only pragmatic for us to further confine the use to the killing of people occurring in the US only- (not in the world abroad). That makes sense because our primary responsibility is to America, and to the unimaginable amount of discomfort American people have suffered of, and to the exorbitant expenditure of expenses going in security measure that need to be saved. Confining strictly to America, the incidence of full blooded killings would be seen as infinitely small percentage over the past several years. Yet we fail to perceive it that way, why? The answer is our unabated fear, coming from different sources gain in intensity when they become cumulative, and at this point they also defy our ability to discriminate and tell the difference to set one fear apart from another. Separating terrorism from many other concerns by means of its strict definition would open the gate for clarity to rush in on many counts such as based on party politics, Republicans vs Democrats, liberals vs. conservative etc., Americans who knew Muslims and Islam versus those who had no knowledge. Clarity on the needed variables would give us a better grasp of who is who and what to expect of the vested interests and so on. The truth of the matter is that America was caught unprepared by the crises of 9/11 with little knowledge about Muslims at all levels, public, FBI, government agencies. They had to do the best they could think of. Surely they had to act, they were attacked undeservedly. There were transgressions done in the process, I would think, given the circumstances. Ironic as it is. Muslims also reacted similarly because they felt innocent, yet victimized and persecuted-in cases, that generated their anti American sentiment by way of their fear and anger for America. That became a vicious cycle, each side providing the fuel for the fire of the other.

The specter of terrorism had been haunting the whole country too long and had placed Muslims and America in sharp opposition in certain ways. Even way back,however, when mutual opposition was at its peak, American justice and the court system stood tall and determined fairly if Muslims accused by government agencies were terrorists or not, even when public was not very warm to it. Ideals such as pluralism of America make us feel proud when they were implemented in favor of Muslims, such as in building mosques in dozen of communities (see our website) when they were all set against it and law enforcement agencies came to help the mosque project Only over the last 5 years or so the clouds of suspicion and fear have begun to clear up for the betterment of both nations. Yet a clear acknowledgment of this state in public life of America is happening only right now (see Obama’s state of the union Address). Now please mark January13, 2015 as the special Date in the history, when Nancy Pelosi told her plan to name the first Muslim lawmaker- Andre Carson to House Intelligence Committee, that is of high strategic significance. It deals at high levels with sensitive matters of intelligence involving CIA,FBI, Department of Justice and Military. As previous intelligence reports used against Muslims were found to show some exaggerations and errors that were committed not by any design but unconsciously, instigated by the desire to comply with the prevalent climate and the wishes of the bosses concerned as suggested in the preceding sections of this article. This is in this context in which the appointment of Mr. Carson, is evaluated as a big event. Depending upon how it goes, it may go for a milestone in the history of Muslims relationship with America-

We trust Mr.Carson has a significant role to play. His presence in the Committee would reduce the negative mention of Muslims or even negative evaluation of Muslims given in the official Report which are done with an anticipation of who the report will be ready by and what officials are the ones sitting on decision making. Fear of Muslims from the top American officials filters down fast and spontaneously contaminates our evaluations and decisions. This is how the psychology of fear works. The appointment of a Muslim in the key Committee would work positively in many ways. To begin with, if Congressman Carson could bring himself- given few hurdles in the way, to substantiate the positive change owing to his appointment as shown in the improvement by better mention of Muslims by getting a systematic research study organized. This may sound too academic to find any place in the party politics. May be so. But if Mr Carson could overcome the hurdles in the way, he could go in the history as a great Congressman for both Muslims and America .It could elevate America to greater heights for contributing a model of the improvement of the administrative machinery for the benefit of its minority- and thus better serve its ideal of pluralism to benefit human kind of the world. The appointment of Mr Carson is undoubtedly strategic in promising the better working of the machinery. But more importantly it is sending the message of American Trust for Muslims by bringing a Muslim - that has been crucial to the uplift of Muslims cooperation but also raise their image in their own eyes: and exclaim one day“By God, we are Americans” that would shake up many negative associations with Muslims- that would go long way in Muslims Serving America (see our website: muslimcouncilofamerica.org) in many ways unimagined, making them feel loyal that should further increase the American trust in them and thus save billions of American money that is now spent in security measures. Trust grows in Reciprocal INTERACTIONS with an exponential increase in each of the two sides that becomes multiplicative at the end of each round. At this time if the trust level- indicated by the measure of Security as unnecessary , is 40, next year, it might be 50, the following years,65 ,85 after it will be 65 85- close to a point where the expenditure of trillions of dollars in financing Security checking would be near zero and stopped. At that point in time instead of using the extrinsic artifact for security, Muslims and American s will use each other as their safety shelter. and feel normal “That will happen, if I could see a crystal ball, within 5 years.- depending upon the rate of positive interactions between them.

Before concluding this, the role of public organizations-Muslims and Americans, must be recognized. Depending upon their directions, they can play a pivotal role in bringing the two nations closer ,or distance them as they have been doing in the past. Perhaps, our organization Muslim Council of America (MCA) needs a mention here because it is most focused on reducing the distance and moving Muslims to like America –Level 1.- many Muslims are there except the prior blocking they received by the reciprocal suspicion which has begun to clear up now. Americanization as complete identity formations is conceptualized as a journey that takes several generations. Level 2  brings the focus on “going for the interest of America” by way of loyalty. Level 3 involves the deepest level, by way of complete Americanization by assuming America identity. At this lever you are not like American but are American. See our website www.muslimcouncilofamrica.org, look for “Serving America” with 3 separate sites subservient to it. MCA has Think Tank to provide guidance as well as the activist arm to interest people towards liking America by speeches and by writings. Its leaders: President and Vice President each has authored a book on the identity issues., Numerous articles and many pages of the website would testify this to any one who likes to read.

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