Immigration, particularly the Muslim component of the equation, has been a front burner issue throughout the recent election. At various times, Donald Trump has advocated various steps to limit the number of Muslims allowed to immigrate to the United States. (Full disclosure, I’m not opposed to this idea.) Trump’s comments about Muslim immigration, and the general comments of his National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn, about the political nature of Islam, have naturally been bootstrapped into discussions about our sitzkrieg on ISIS.
In a risible CNN article titled Obama has degraded ISIS. Can Trump finish the job? (Obama has degraded a lot of things, the United States among them, but ISIS is not one.)
And analysts flagged the especially thorny problem of lone wolf attackers, which under a leader already known for anti-Muslim rhetoric could become an even greater risk within the US, they said.
“I fear that’s going to become an even more serious problem under the Trump administration,” said Matthew Henman, head of IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, based in London. The Obama administration has used rhetoric that stressed inclusiveness and an acceptance of Islam — an ideological counter to ISIS efforts to make Muslims feel disenfranchised, Henman said.
Even under the current approach, though, the US has seen lone wolf attacks by people claiming affiliation with ISIS in San Bernardino, California, and Orlando, Florida.
In contrast to Obama, Trump and his national security advisor have said that fear of Muslims is rational and floated the idea of banning Muslim immigration to the US. That rhetoric plays into ISIS recruitment efforts, Henman said.
In terms of the “demographic in the US that is at risk of being more disenfranchised, made to feel less welcome, made to feel more segregated and hated in America, you’re potentially going to have a bigger pool of people willing or more susceptible to the message of radicalization and recruitment that the Islamist State is advancing,” Henman contended.
Pause and consider that for a moment. This guy, like Trump, is arguing that Muslims are a disloyal minority who have no allegiance to the United States and who will kill you if sufficiently provoked. What they DISAGREE on is what to do. This guy says you have to tip toe around them and be damned sure you don’t hurt their feelings. Trump says you need to stop them from entering the country and keep a close eye on those already here.
American’s Muslim minority is unlike any other that we’ve encountered in our history. We have accepted waves of immigrants who were not trusted. The earliest such were Irish Catholics beginning in the 1830s and rising steadily due to the Great Famine and to a legal framework in Anglo-Ireland that deliberately kept Catholics in poverty and disenfranchised. How did they respond? By joining the Army in large numbers during the Civil War and thereafter. By forming patriotic organizations. By becoming politically active. By putting the lie to any assertion that their real loyalty was to Rome. When Catholics from eastern and southern Europe washed ashore in the late 19th century they, too, became ostentatiously American. Groups like Sons of Italy were formed to not only honor their heritage but to Americanize new immigrants. Jewish immigrant from eastern Europe embraced education and assimilation. German citizens experienced intense discrimination after the declaration war in 1917, yet they never threatened to become a Fifth Column. The German American Bund was hugely sympathetic to Hitler’s Germany yet it remained a marginal organization inside the German American community. Hitler’s recruiters complained about how unenthusiastic Germans in America were for Nazi German. By the time Hitler declared war on the United States the Bund had ceased to exist and Americans of German extraction served with distinction in the US military.
The most glaring example of how a maltreated foreign minority that is truly American in spirit reacts to discrimination is, of course, Japanese Americans. West Coast Japanese Americans were rounded up and shipped to what can only be called concentration camps (in the Boer War sense). Yet, young men of Japanese heritage enlisted in great numbers during World War II. The almost-entirely-Japanese-American 442d Regimental Combat Team (I say “almost entirely” to be cautious but I have yet to find a non-Japanese on the roster) distinguished itself in Italy and Southern France.
You’d have to look long and hard to find any groups that have suffered more abuse than either black Americans or American Indians yet neither were inclined to disloyalty during our wars or during our ideological conflict with the USSR.
The general behavior of Muslim communities after 9/11 demonstrate why they are different from other minorities. The focus of Muslim organizations has not been to work to stamp out the influences that lead to extremism. After each terror attack you invariably find a mosque where hatred of The Infidel, The Polytheist, The Jew is preached to a credulous audience at or near Ground Zero. After attacks you don’t find any soul searching for “what could we have done differently.” Nope. What you find is stuff like this that appeared after the Islamofascist whackadoodle drove a car into a crowd of fellow students at Ohio State and then started slashing them with a knife: For Muslims at Ohio State, unease and fears of a backlash after terrifying attack. Of all the things they should have been thinking about, backlash should not have been in the top 50. And, guess what, just like after every other radical Islamic terror attack in the United States there was zero backlash.
If we are truly at a point where everyone agrees that if a Muslim community does not get its way then we have to anticipate it will turn to terrorism, it shows that there is some common ground upon which to search for a solution.