When I was working at my last newspaper job, I wrote a fair amount about the radicalization of institutional Islam in America, owing mainly to the control of major American Muslim organizations by the Muslim Brotherhood. This has been widely documented; this paper, by the leading Muslim scholar Husain Haqqani (who is now Pakistan’s ambassador to the US) is a good place to start if you want to get the basic story. You may wish to familiarize yourself with the work of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, an anti-Islamist American Muslim, to know more. Also, this 2004 series by the Chicago Tribune digs deep.
This document is also key. It’s a 1991 memo written by a top Muslim Brotherhood official in the US, outlining the organizations plans to infiltrate America with a number of front groups, which are named in the memo. It’s a who’s who of top Muslim organizations here. The document was seized by the FBI in a raid on a suspected terrorism organizer’s house, and introduced into evidence at the Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial in Dallas. The defense did not dispute the document’s authenticity, but as I recall, only said that it was outdated — a risible excuse.
Here’s the thing that drives people who understand this stuff crazy: the US government continues to embrace these organizations dedicated to radicalizing the US Muslim population. You know how bizarre this is? During the Holy Land trial, while US Justice Department attorneys were in a Dallas courtroom presenting evidence that the Islamic Society of North America is part of a network of Muslim Brotherhood front groups in this country whose mission is to commit stealth jihad, this same Justice Department — under George W. Bush, mind you — had representatives at the annual ISNA convention doing outreach.
All this came to mind this afternoon reading Christopher Caldwell’s review of a new book by Zeyno Baran, a liberal Turkish-born Muslim and Washington-based policy scholar. Excerpt:
Her new book describes how Islamists have captured many Islamic religious and social institutions, including most of the Western ones. Islamism has supplanted more traditional tendencies and has become what most people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, understand as mainstream Islam. Gullible American and European policymakers have partnered with the wrong Muslims, freezing out their friends and empowering those who wish them ill.
Don’t miss this point: Baran seems argues that by privileging these radical-led US organizations — some of which take over mosques and force out any Muslims who disagree with their hard line — American and European governments are helping to empower people who, because of their institutional platform, will set the norms for Islam in the West. And worse:
Baran is a Muslim liberal and feminist who insists that there is a strong message of gender equality in the Koran. She worries that the dominance of these Muslim Brotherhood–inspired, frequently Saudi-funded groups is obscuring the diversity of Islamic culture and religious practice. But the problem is worse than she says. Radical, politicized groups are not merely drowning out more traditionally pious strains of Islam—they are wiping them out. This process is underway in Baran’s native Turkey. Baran is a defender of the model of moderate, state-managed Islam, set up by Kemal Atatürk and his successors. The former president of Turkey, Suleyman Demirel, wrote the book’s introduction. Alas, the gifted demagogue and Islamist Tayyip Erdogan has spent the better part of the last decade ripping this apolitical Islam out of Turkish society root-and-branch. It is more a museum piece than a living, breathing alternative to Islamism.
Caldwell says that the strategies to counter this advocated by Baran can’t work for a couple of reasons:
One is that Americans are too frightened of being disciplined and punished for breaches of political correctness to discuss honestly any aspect of any policy touching on Islam. Even this term—“political correctness”—does not do justice to the Zhdanovite lockdown that the government enforces when it comes to discussing Islam.
Tell me about it. Remember that 2007 controversy over “Islam vs. Islamists,” a documentary commissioned by PBS that focused on efforts by anti-Islamist Muslims (Dr. Jasser was one of them) to fight radicalism in their own mosques and communities, often at the risk of their own lives? PBS refused to air it after complaints by major US Muslim groups — precisely the groups criticized by anti-Islamist Muslims as being water-carriers for radicalism. It is hard to overstate how powerful political correctness is with media, academic, and governmental elites on all this. Useful idiots, the lot. They don’t understand this stuff, and don’t want to understand it. To know something is to be responsible for it. If the major US Muslim groups are substantially controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, then we are in worse trouble than we think. That thought is dispiriting, so we have to deny it.