The modus operandi for the political empowerment of Islamists in America is in full public display during every election cycle. The sad part is few realize how central "Islamic politics" is to the driving force of transnational Islamism and its threat to American security. The incessant attempts by American Islamist groups (like the MAS, CAIR, MPAC, ISNA, ICNA to name a few) to collectivize Muslims in the body politic - from voter registrations to their ideological grievance mill - point to their goals.
What better way to push forth a quasi-theocratic political agenda than to deceive the Muslim faithful into believing that their political survival as a minority in America depends upon the mixture of their faith identity with their political identity? These same Islamists spread the ideology of victimization and identity politics among any Muslims who will listen while they internally promote political Islam and Islamist statecraft within the ummah (Muslim community). They use their efforts at Muslim electoral involvement to exploit the spiritual ummah for political purposes. Most importantly, many in the mainstream media (MSM) and government turn to them to purportedly speak for the American Muslim population, even though they have no mandate or significant membership to do so.
The fact is that they (the Wahhabi lobby working in tandem with for what all practical purposes appears to be the international Muslim Brotherhood network) only speak for their memberships, organizations, and donors while certainly not representing the majority of American Muslims. But, what better way for them to cultivate future Islamists than to teach them and non-suspecting American media and government that the faith of Islam is intertwined with their political activism?
Forget party affiliation when they can indoctrinate their Muslim brethren that the Muslim ummah should become their political platform for societal and legal change and division. The mission is clear - first, build a political Muslim identity which drives the activism of American Muslims in their sway. Then, once that bond is created, slip in the agenda of political Islam driven by a domestic and foreign policy agenda which favors the interests of Islamists in government over other ideologies. Motivating a Muslim `bloc vote' is based upon this paradigm of Islamism for the Islamist minority.
Minority politics and the Islamist Agenda in America
In Western nations like the United States where Muslims are a small minority (less than 2% of the population) in a free election system where the laws of the land are secular, Islamist organizations must be far more cunning. They have quickly co-opted the propaganda of victimology and identity politics in order to collectivize American Muslims under their Islamist banners and exploit the grand deception that Muslims are monolithic. Forget the diversity of political opinions within the Muslim community. Forget the wide spectra of political ideology in both domestic and foreign policy with which devout Muslims may agree or disagree. The Islamist movement depends upon the motivating propaganda of victimology and identity while dismissing any genuine ideological debate on issues vital to America first.
Since 2000, these same eleven American Muslim organizations have set out to empower a "Muslim voting bloc." They then formed the American Muslim Political Coordination Committee-PAC. Back in 2000 on the heels of their lukewarm endorsement of then-Gov. George W. Bush they, along with many other `American voting blocs', went on to claim credit for President Bush's narrow victory. This year, the same PAC is moving toward a similar strategy claiming that the three priorities for Muslim voters are civil rights, a fair immigration policy, and ending the war in Iraq. This is clearly an Islamist agenda focused on victimology, identity politics, and the advocacy of Islamist interests in Iraq and abroad.
Talk to non-Islamist Muslims not affiliated with these organizations and you will find an agenda which more closely mirrors that of general America - the economy, health care, and national security. The Islamist agenda is simply to exaggerate their Muslim grievance mill so that candidates who are loath to be identified as anti-Muslim will divert the attention of the nation completely away from the national security problems associated with various Muslim ideologies contained within the global movements of political Islam. Again, gone is any discussion of an approach nationally to the forces of global political Islam - other than appeasement.
The Deception of Islamist Collectivism
This Islamist agenda will certainly peak the interests of national media who love a story which pigeon holes voters into bite size demographics - like the "Muslim voter." Sadly, this deception, no matter what the poll data says about how Muslims vote, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy a decade in the make due to the unbalanced Islamist influence in American mainstream media and foreign Muslim media rather than from any real manifestation of Muslim ideologies. The logic of the Muslim voter is no different than the logic of a Christian voter in a nation which is majority Christian. Certainly, Islamists as a subset of Muslims, who are politically and theocratically-driven Muslims, are a relevant discussion during elections and from a national security perspective. But again, most Muslims are not Islamists. Rather, they look at political issues based upon the political platforms of established American party politics and ideologies - not Islamist politics.
Islamism feeds upon this toxic mixture of religion and politics. It is fueled by the ideologies spewed from the political mosque, pulpit, and imam. Islamism derives its nuclear energy from a much deeper desire to ultimately implement Sharia (Islamic jurisprudence) in government whether covertly or overtly. From the international Muslim Brotherhood, to the global metastases by petrodollars of Wahhabi ideology to the national manifestations of Islamism in the eleven groups of the AMT-PAC these organizations are all about the political empowerment of the Islamist agenda in national politics much more than they have anything to do with the personal faith of Muslims.
A typical example is the electoral antics of the Muslim American Society. Mahdi Bray, for example, stated the following after the victory of James Webb in the Virginia senate race of 2006:
"We delivered 80 percent of the eligible voting Muslims to the polls," Bray said in July at an Islamic Circle of North America-Muslim American Society convention in Hartford, Conn. "48,000 Muslims voted in Virginia. 93 percent of them voted for Webb, seven percent voted for Allen. Webb won by a slim margin of 9,000 votes. Now I don't care how you slice it, dice it and I don't care whether you are a mathematician or not, you can figure this out, that if 48,000 Muslims voted and 90 percent of them voted for the successful candidate, then certainly, and he only won by a 9,000 vote margin - we made a difference."
Linda Keay of IPT News notes that these numbers were never independently verified. But, what is most interesting is that the shear demagoguery of Bray's statement again paints a clear picture of the modus operands of Islamists in the United States. They seek to collectivize Muslims in electoral politics and whenever possible in order to spread the impression of their tribal control of the Muslim community and exert pressure on media and government to appease the agenda of political Islam in America.
Empowering Islamist Movements hampers anti-Islamists
It is certainly within the rights of any minority community to unite, circle the wagons, and affect democracy - many certainly do. But, a faith-based voting bloc of Islamists, who are the embodiment of political Islam, is blurring the line between religion and state far too much. It compromises a central element in the defeat of radical Islamism and our counterterrorism efforts - the defeat of the ideology of political Islam (ends) and the fuel for radical Islamism (the means). Political Islam and its stated goals fly in the face of our nation's principles that led to the tax exemption status for religious organizations. Isn't the establishment of this so-called Muslim voting bloc one step closer to the behaviors of the theocrats that our ancestors in the Middle Eastern community left behind by coming to the U.S?
A so-called Muslim voting bloc reinforces the stereotype that we are tribal. When we vote for president or any political leader, I believe most Muslims assess a gamut of issues related to our collective American national and state interests, which I believe mirrors most of the rest of the American population. The Islamist agenda is more related to the goals of global political Islam than our own American interests. However, it would be a mistake to conflate Islamists with all Muslims. From economics to health care to immigration to national security and the general role of government, the Islamic faith cannot fit into a single point of view or the three self-centered issues outlined by Islamist groups in 2008. The Islamist doctrine will always try to do that while deceptively exploiting the faith and our faith community.
It is time for media, government, and American citizens to understand and expose the deception that the Islamist agenda is somehow with little critique related to a larger Muslim spiritual agenda. A healthy distrust of the Islamist agenda will actually go a long way toward empowering non-Islamist Muslims to rise against the collectivist behaviors of Islamists on our behalf.
Separating the agenda of political Islam from Islam will need a much deeper reform within our theology. We need to separate the ummah from national politics and Sharia from government. But this will take decades - if not generations, much like it did for the Enlightenment in the West. In the meantime, we should at least refrain from accepting the mixture of the agenda of Islamists with that of all American Muslims. And American Muslims who continue to try and circle their wagons and exploit tribalism,need ask themselves just one question - how relevant would their voting bloc be if American Christians voted en bloc in the upcoming 2008 elections?
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor M. Zuhdi Jasser is the founder and Chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix Arizona. He is a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander, a physician in private practice, and a community activist. He can be reached at Zuhdi@aifdemocracy.org