Dr. Michael Welner: How Do We Lower Risk in America of Islamist Terror?
Michael Welner, M.D.
Forensic Psychiatrist & Chairman, The Forensic Panel
The San Bernardino massacre reminded us, yet again, that the war on terror is not merely overseas, but happening here at home. The government’s promotion of an idea that Farook and Malik’s holiday massacre was ‘workplace violence’ was as transparent a lie as the notion that a video prompted the September 11, 2011 attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi. Obviously, it was Islamist terrorism; this motive became clear as soon as authorities established that the perpetrators included a woman. Only among Jihadists is participation of a woman not uncommon in spectacle crime; mass killings of strangers are otherwise universally carried out by heterosexual males.
Public dialogue geared toward defusing the menace of Islamism has been buried in a false narrative built upon five outright lies. Use of any or more of these lies signifies efforts by the speaker to manipulate the American viewer and listener for political and ideological purposes:
1.Islamist terrorists are not practicing Islam– False. Islamists are those, be they Shiite, Salafist, or Sunni, who espouse theocratic aims and seek to establish theocracies according to Islamic law elsewhere, by whatever means available – including not merely terror, but manipulating the response of others to terror. Other Muslims may not agree with the Islamists, but the idea that Islamists are not Muslim is no more credible than an argument between Catholics and Protestants over who is Christian.
2. Islamists are a very small number of people – False. The reality is that Islamists control large swaths of Iraq and Syria, dominate Lebanon, Libya and Afghanistan, rule Iran, Gaza, Qatar, Turkey, control parts of the Sudan and Nigeria, control neighborhoods and communities throughout Europe. They control government Tv stations: al-Jazeera, and al-Manar. Such would be mathematically impossible without a significant participation of a range of people of different skills across age groups and geographical locations
3. America has victimized Islam– False. All of it. America liberated and protected Bosnian Muslims. It economically built up the oil-producing states and liberated Kuwait. It promoted Turkey’s integration into NATO. It deposed the Shah of Iran and restored the Ayatollah Khomeini. It singlehandedly dragged Israel into accepting Yasser Arafat as a self-governing neighbor. It ended Israel’s war in Lebanon before Israel could crush Hezbollah. It negotiated the return of Sinai to Egypt. It responded with unprecedented generosity to natural disasters in the Muslim world, most notably the tsunami that wracked Indonesia. Every effort was made to rebuild Iraq – more than can be said of Iran, which waged war against Saddam Hussein as well. America has contributed far more to Afghanistan than the Soviet Union ever did.
4. We are not at war with Islam – False. Islam is at war with itself, as it attacks those unwilling to submit to its will. Islamists are at war with nonbelievers in countries in which they set down roots, be it ISIS or Boko Haram, or the resurgent al-Qaeda. Islamists are at war with us. We may not have asked for it, but one cannot wish away facts.
5. Discussion of Islamist terror by Americans endangers American Muslims with prejudice and victimization – False. Americans are a loving people. Bias crime against Muslims is extremely low in the United States. Mosques are safe; it is synagogues that are vandalized. Beyond statistics, the obviousness of this lie manifests in the great clamor among Muslims to immigrate to the United States. They know what to expect. It is not that these Muslims are clamoring to emigrate from Syria to Gaza, where Islamist rule demonstrates what a society that victimizes other Muslims is really like.
In order to engage solutions preventing Islamist terrorism in the United States, we must stop obscuring the obvious. The above false ideas should be rejected out of hand as calculated efforts to prevent serious discussion.
What we can do as America is straightforward, involves us all, and consists of a number of measures:
1.The paradigm of political correctness needs to be flipped.When Americans are attacked in the name of Islam, fear of Muslims is a natural human response. This should be a great source of embarrassment and shame to Muslims, not a source of defensiveness to Americans. Focus should not be on our suppression of unavoidable Islamophobia but American Islam’s zeal to reassert its loyalty to America. How will Islam define itself in America – pluralistic or theocratic?
2. Branding America and what it has done for the Muslims (Indonesia, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, Palestinians). Not homilies about Muslim sports heroes who are role models as loyal Americans. Rather, remembering the American ideals and how we have given aid to Muslims around the world.
3. Promoting Muslim thinking that is loyal to America first. The American ideal needs to be held out as a model for their peers and the voice of American Islam. Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser is Chairman of the American Islam Forum for Democracy (AIFD). The AIFD espouses secular governance, democracy, and liberty. It upholds the right of others to publicly criticize Islam, reject violence, bigotry against all peoples, and reject interpretations of political Islam calling for violence. In addition to being a physician, Dr. Jasser is a retired Commander in the United States Navy.
Imam Nidal Alsayyed, the leader of the Islamic Community of East Texas, said “American Muslims need to say we are with this country…we American Muslims need to be sincere in our religion and to the country we are living in. Peace comes before religion.” These are the role models who should be visiting the President and household names – not a ‘clock boy’ manipulated by his parents and Islamist community organizers to create a false incident.
End the influence of CAIR and Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, who demand defensiveness of Americans and marginalize the terror scourge, on American political and intellectual institutions. Essentially, advocate regime change.
4. Pressuring mosque, parental and family responsibility.Act locally to strongly incentivize and engender the desire of these entities to avoid unwanted suspicions that they are hotbeds for terror. Close those houses of prayer that are houses of hate and deport their troublemaker leaders. Aggressively pursue civil liability of families and networks of violent Islamists who are sheltered and shielded by families aware of what they are planning but who do not act to protect their communities.
Borrow from the experiences of organized crime and drug dealers who self-police when a solitary criminal brings unwanted attention to a community. ISIS is claiming recruits from even more secular homes; whose parents and siblings cannot sit by, as loyal Americans, when a threat is apparent.
5. Financially support Muslim institutions’ efforts to root out terrorism and messianic intolerance from within communities. Community vigilance is a necessary part of all law enforcement. It is incumbent upon our leadership to cultivate, within the Muslim community, the idea, ‘if you see something, say something.” Americans made John Walsh succeed by responding to the imperative that witnesses and a watchful eye can solve crimes in ways that forensic science cannot.
Equip those mosques and centers with surveillance and undercover informants from outside the community. Have them cooperate closely with law enforcement, and monitor what is happening away from the naked eye. We need to support mosques and centers and their peaceful adherents to keep our society safe.
Use of humor to self-regulate. The best weapon of the free world is free humor and unabashedly free speech and critical thinking. Free speech is suppressed by the influence of Islamist-sympathizing organizations like CAIR that intimidate the news and entertainment media.
Humor and humorists are critical to reaching young people, who are the future of the conflict and those whose minds need to be turned toward American ideals. Humor has had enormous impact on the reform of other religions. From Catholicism to Mormonism to Judaism, examples abound of the impact of humor and arts on the intolerance of religions. Look at the societal impact of the Broadway show, the Book of Mormon. Why, in America, can we not have satire on the order of the Book of Islam? Why do we not have a Charlie Hebdo? Create a Charlie Hebdo, so that all religions can laugh at themselves and reform intolerance from within. Why is Islamism never the fodder for standup comedy? There is so much to be comical about that is far more devastating than bullets. And why was Charlie Hebdo decimated? Because Islamists are threatened by introspection and reform. And humor must never be intimidated, but rebound like a hydra. And our leaders must protect humor and the critical arts as sacrosanct.
Blasphemy may be in bad taste, but it is protected speech and a small price to pay for the vibrant dialogue that we can instigate here about Islam. As with all of the best of American exports, I would expect that attitude to have unstoppable impact across the world. American entertainment is an export product. The entertainment industry has to be a partner in the war against Islamism.
6. Retake the campuses from rejectionist Islam.The minds of the young are the recruitment battleground of the war. Empower, but vet pluralistic imams to verify ties.
7. Retake the prisons, which feed angry violent wannabees into the community. Fire and replace rejectionist and angry Imams and empower other gangs within prison to crush Islamist gangs and disincentivize affiliation. Inmates are drawn to Islam for many practical reasons that have nothing to do with religion. The penetration of Islamist imams in prisons ensnare those vulnerable captives, whose alienation may only increase once released to a community that is not so forgiving of their debts to society.
8. Ban investment by governments and large donors promoting radical Islam from American media, campaigns, and academic institutions.There are enough independent watchdogs to highlight this. Use freedom of information access and watchdog groups to highlight who is funding the subversive enemy. Our policy toward Islamist terror is bought and sold, in ways that are unacceptable.
9. End American backdoor investment in terrorism– Funding Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, while opposing ISIS, is ultimately ridiculous when the organizations merge resources in the Sinai to collectively terrorize Egypt. Running guns to al-Qaeda in Libya while bombing al-Qaeda in Yemen undermines our moral authority.
10. Root out Islamist contributions to political candidates and to the media.We are at war — expose those elected officials and make them as radioactive to the American public as the KKK. These campaign contributions are intended to act against the national interest, and advance the agenda of people who want to create theocracy.
11. Full security screening of federal employees in sensitive positions who do not currently undergo security clearance.Full security scrutiny of those in elected office and their staffs. A recent report revealed that 72 employees in the Division of Homeland Security were on terror watch lists! What are we going to do about it?
12. End discrimination against Jewish Arabic speakers by American intelligence services. American Jewish refugees from Muslim intolerance, forced to emigrate from Arab countries decades ago, are fluent in Arabic. Many have volunteered to help the war on terror as a demonstration of national loyalty. Endemic State Department and CIA anti-Semitism precludes use of such talents, baselessly questioning their loyalties to the United States because they are Jews. This irrational hatred prevents harnessing the linguistic fluency of those who can materially assist interpreting the tremendous amount of unanalyzed data in Arabic and have well-honed vigilance in the face of threat.
Israel has been most effective by using undercover agents who speak fluent Arabic to infiltrate mosques and who clearly are at no risk for acting as double agents to mislead investigation. Religious freedoms are completely protected and success is achieved even when mosques are not cooperative. America has all of the talent here to do so as well. However, this is not done because of hard-wired anti-Semitism in the culture of the State Department, FBI, and CIA. This has undermined the national security imperative for gathering and upgrading the quality of human intelligence.
Dr. Michael Welner is leading research to refine evidence-driven standards to define evil in crime, and to assist fairness in sentencing based on societal standards. The research includes surveys for the general public to directly weigh different examples of intent, actions, and attitudes of crime. We encourage you to participate at www.depravitystandard.org.