Hillary Clinton loves Muslim-Americans. So much, in fact, that she wants them to spy on one another. During the Democratic debate on Saturday night, she lobbed around the idea that followers of Islam could report against their fellow Muslims.
During the debate Clinton made it clear that she was against the demonization of Muslim-Americans while at the same time suggesting that they could be our first point of defense against terror plots.
“We need to have everybody in our country focused on watching what’s happening and reporting it if it’s suspicious…making sure Muslim-Americans don’t feel left out or marginalized at the very moment when we need their help.”
The sense of disbelief was strong on the internet, with a lot of folks wondering just what Clinton meant when she asserted that Muslim-Americans were “partners” in the U.S. fight against terror. It wasn’t the heartwarming embrace she was obviously hoping it would be. Instead, it was reminiscent of a dystopian society where neighbors inform on neighbors due to their pre-existing prejudices and fear.
Americans don’t need that. We don’t need neighbors spying on neighbors. We need a better governmental system to detect and prevent terrorism. Obviously, if anyone announces a plan to bomb a building, Muslim or not, the proper authorities should be alerted, but for Hillary Clinton to assume Muslim-Americans will actively participate as her own personal informants is asinine, especially considering how easily this call to action could be taken to the extreme.
In 1692, two little girls playing under the furniture, and pretending to fly sparked a flurry of fear. The little girls, who had once been considered models of proper behavior, were acting strangely. They must have been bewitched. The town must have been inhabited by witches.
Thus ensued a months-long panic in which 20 innocent people died, one of which died while being tortured for information. Sound familiar?
More than 300 years later, Hillary Clinton wants Muslim-Americans to turn on their neighbors. Already, anti-Muslim fear is heightened since the Paris attacks, and Muslims who are willing to join the ranks of informants against their neighbors might succeed only in destroying innocent lives instead of saving them.
Clinton also suggested that Donald Trump’s fiery rhetoric against Muslims, including Americans, is serving as a great recruiting tool for ISIS. This may be so, but her claim that ISIS leaders are showing Trump in recruiting videos is patently false, according to Politifact.
The ramifications of getting involved in our neighbor’s lives by spying on them can have tragic consequences. When we initially view those who are different, particularly Muslim-Americans, we are already setting ourselves up for making incorrect assumptions and creating problems where none existed before. In November, a Canadian man, who is a Sikh, posted a selfie on social media. Sikh men often wear a Dastar, a kind of turban, which is a significant part of the religion. Veenrender Jubbal’s photo was then copied and edited to make it appear that he was wearing a suicide vest. His tablet was edited to look like a Koran. The photo was then circulated with the accusation that he was one of the terrorists behind the Paris attacks.
The culprits were feeding into Americans’ anti-Muslim hysteria simply because they did not like the victim, who is a strong feminist. Those behind the altered photo turned out to be anti-feminists linked to Gamergate who targeted him with racism and xenophobia. Fortunately, nothing serious happened with Jubbal, but one has to wonder how anyone could take the edited photo serious. Jubbal took the photo in front of a mirror. His tablet was clearly the source of the photo. With the tablet replaced by what appears to be a Koran, how could he have taken the photo?
Across the pond in England, another Muslim man was accused of being a terrorist because he was reading a book on terrorism, according to a report by the Independent. Mohammed Umar Farooq was studying a textbook on terrorism in the library at Staffordshire University when he was approached by another man who began asking him questions about homosexuality, ISIS, and al-Qaeda. He made it clear that he was against extremism, but the man, who turned out to be a university official, reported him on suspicion of being a terrorist. Farooq was wrongly accused by someone who made assumptions. Again, the official was not Muslim, but he joins the ranks of terror informants who got it very, very wrong.
Clinton’s call for Muslim-Americans to become the eyes, ears, and alarm against terrorism could only make the situation worse for innocent people and ultimately radicalize those Muslims who feel marginalized.
While it is always a good idea to report anything unusual or suspicious, we must remain careful not to scapegoat others out of pure fear. Muslim-Americans who spy on their neighbors could help in the fight against terrorism, but contrary to Hillary Clinton, they shouldn’t be our “partner” in crime detection.
[Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty]