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A couple of weeks ago I wrote here about a recent piece in the Nation, “Fear and Loathing of Islam,” in which one Moustafa Bayoumi argued that the overwhelming majority of American Muslims are just ordinary people who want to live ordinary lives, and that any doubts about their loyalties, concerns about their potential radicalization, or official efforts to investigate the ideas spread in their mosques and other gathering places are nothing but manifestations of a poisonous and ignorant Islamophobia. The key word throughout Bayoumi’s article was “ordinary”: out of all the Muslims in America, only a few dozen – those, that is, who have been talked into joining terrorist groups – are a legitimate cause for worry; the rest, in all the ways that matter, are more or less just like the rest of us, and – most important – share our love of American and our devotion to its constitutional values.
First of all, there is ample reason to question Bayoumi’s very low estimate of the number of domestic Muslim terrorists and would-be terrorists in the U.S. Reading recent news reports from Britain, about the arrest of six men (including a Muslim convert and a former police community support officer) who had been plotting a terror attack in that country, and from Norway, about a former member of the radical-left group Blitz who converted to Islam after marrying the daughter of a North African diplomat and has since been prepared by al-Qaeda to carry out a terrorist attack involving an American passenger plane, one cannot help suspecting that these men, and others like them who, over the years, happen to have been detected and arrested by the authorities in their respective countries, are only the tip of a very large and menacing iceberg.
In any case, as I argued in my earlier article, the more serious jihadist threat, in America and throughout the West, is not terrorism – which, after all, usually proves to be counterproductive, in that it reminds infidels of the ever-present danger of triumphalist Islamic ideology – but rather the phenomenon that has been described as “soft” or “stealth” jihad.
Meet André Carson. When people like Bayoumi write articles designed to convince the rest of us that American Muslims are overwhelmingly moderate, successfully integrated, and thoroughly harmless, it is standard practice for them to point to the high proportion of American Muslims who are respected doctors, prosperous businessmen, and the like – the premise being that well-to-do professionals can’t also be terrorists, a ridiculous notion which (even in the wake of the involvement of Muslim physicians in the attempted 2007 car bombings in London and the attack at Glasgow Airport the same year) somehow continues to be taken seriously.
On the face of it, Carson would seem to be the epitome of this kind of exemplary American Muslim. The grandson of an Indiana congresswoman, he earned degrees in in Criminal Justice Management and Business Management, worked as an investigator for the Indiana State Excise Police, led anti-terrorism efforts under the auspices of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, then became a marketing specialist for an architectural and engineering firm in Indianapolis. In 2008, after a stint in local politics, he was chosen in a special election to succeed his recently deceased grandmother in the House of Representatives. And, yes, he is a Muslim – one of two currently serving in Congress, the other one, of course, being Minnesota’s Keith Ellison. After his first election to the House, Carson served-up a self-description that perfectly articulated the ordinary-Muslim mantra: “I’m a proud Hoosier….I’m an Indy 500 Hoosier, I’m a Covered Bridge Festival Hoosier, I’m a Black Expo Hoosier, I’m a state fair Hoosier. I just happen to be a Hoosier of the Muslim faith.”
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