The political spin against Thursday's congressional hearing into Islamic radicalization against America is off base, a Muslim journalist argues. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., is not waging a McCarthyite witch hunt, but acknowledging a problem self-anointed Muslim political leaders refuse to see.
As she does so often, Asra Nomani swims against the tide in columns published by the Daily Beast and the Washington Post. Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who just completed a compelling investigation into all the players behind the murder of her former colleague Daniel Pearl, has been pushing for Muslim Americans to do a better job policing their own communities.
It's difficult, she writes, for "shame-based societies" to break through a reflexive denial that any problem exists. Instead, they deliver "obtuse PR campaigns that don't address issues of radicalism head-on."
That's what national Islamist groups are doing this week, drumming up protests and condemnation of King and of the hearing's focus on radicalization among Muslims, as opposed to political violence in general.
Muslim Americans "have to shake off the fear of shame and own the problems inside our community. In a sense, we need to be shameless," Nomani writes. "We have to realize that neither our community nor Islam has to be defined by criminals such as [Fort Hood shooter] Maj. Nidal Hassan and [Times Square attempted bomber]Faisal Shahzad, but they will be if we don't disavow these men and their ideologies."
It is a point she has made in the wake of the Fort Hood massacre, citing the case of a man ostracized from his Maryland mosque after trying to call attention to Hassan's radicalism, and in her campaign for gender equity during prayer.
"For far too long, our nation has had a politically correct stance when it comes to the question of militancy, extremism and radicalization inside Islam," she writes. "In the name of interfaith dialogue, we have pulled our punches on the very serious and real issues of extremist interpretations of Islam, issuing feel-good statements such as, 'Islam is a religion of peace.' We try to be polite and not offend."
As our story Monday shows, King's witness list is incredibly balanced, with a Muslim member of Congress who is critical of the entire episode and a law enforcement official who is cozy with Islamist groups sharing the microphone with two men whose relatives fell prey to radicalization.