The Muslim Problem

The Muslim community has been continuously reminded by the media since 9/11 that the primary duty of an acceptable Muslim is to continuously condemn the behavior of a tiny minority of coreligionists.

(alsay / flickr)

An April 23 Washington Post headline declares: “Muslims have a problem. Uncle Ruslan may have the answer.”

The protagonist of the article is Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers. The article’s author is former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Nomani, one of a contingent of Muslims hawking an “indigenous” legitimization of Islamophobia.

In a 2012 dispatch for The Daily Beast titled “Why NYPD Monitoring Should Be Welcome News to U.S. Muslims,” Nomani affirms her longstanding commitment to the New York City Police Department’s racial profiling and spying practices:

Last year, I argued: profile me. This year, I say, too: monitor me. Indeed, just as we need to track the Colombian community for drug trafficking and the Ku Klux Klan for white extremists, I believe we should monitor the Muslim community because we sure don’t police ourselves enough.

Among the many problems with this sort of logic is that, while the vast majority of KKK members are by definition “white extremists,” the majority of Muslims and Colombians are not criminals. The dangers of sanctioning selective targeting are underscored by the fact that the NYPD’s “monitoring” efforts have been known to involve informants who actively encourage Muslim individuals to undertake terrorist acts.

Good Muslim, Bad Muslim

In the introductory paragraph to Nomani’s Washington Post piece, Tsarni is described as “str[iding] down the driveway of his Federalist-style home… in Montgomery Village, Md., an upper middle-class Washington, D.C. suburb,” clad in “Reef flip flops, blue jeans and a Calvin Klein polo shirt.”  His front yard boasts “purple wisteria,” while “pink tulips” flourish across the street.

The emphasis on the all-American setting, complete with cheery floral décor, sets Tsarni up as a noble foil for his ethnic cohorts. Recounting her own participation in Tsarni’s outdoor press conference, Nomani writes:

As an American Muslim who has watched the radicalization of Muslims from Louisville, Ky., to Chatanooga, Tenn., to Chechnya, the ancestral ethnicity of the alleged bombers, over the last three decades, I had one question on my mind.

I asked softly: “Is your family Muslim?”

[ . . . ]

The question was one other journalists later admitted to me that they wondered but didn’t dare ask, the proverbial elephant in the room.

Nomani lists previous examples of alleged Islam-induced terrorism such as the case of US Army Major Nidal Hasan, charged with the 2009 murder of thirteen people at Fort Hood and portrayed as a jihadist in the supposedly cautious US press.

According to a BBC News profile of Hasan, however, his “commitment to the [US] army may have been broken by his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—and by plans to deploy him to a war zone.” The profile cites reports that Hasan suffered harassment in the military for being of Middle Eastern descent and that he was “affected by injuries he saw at the Walter Reed Medical Army Center, where he worked until recently as a psychiatrist treating troops returning from combat.”

Of no concern to the likes of Nomani, of course, is the global context of destructive US militarism or its exacerbating effects on the so-called Muslim “problem.”

Co-ethnic Condemnation

Elated by Tsarni’s decree that his nephews’ alleged act “put a shame on the entire Chechnyan ethnicity,” Nomani exhorts Muslims to “learn an important lesson from Tsarni: It’s time to acknowledge the dishonor of terrorism within our communities.”

In other words — as the Muslim community has been continuously reminded by the media since 9/11 — the primary duty of an acceptable Muslim is to continuously condemn the behavior of a tiny minority of coreligionists, thereby bogging down their community in a never-ending cycle of negative self-identification and political weakness.

“Problems” not requiring co-ethnic condemnation or self-reflection meanwhile apparently include recurring events like massacres of US schoolchildren, bomb attacks on wedding parties in Afghanistan, and material and financial support for the Israeli slaughter of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.

Referencing Tsarni’s comment to the Associated Press that his elder nephew had “started all this religious talk, ‘Insh’allah’ [God willing] and all that,” Nomani muses:

What Tsarni is admitting is something true but politically incorrect to talk about: the increasing use of these phrases of religiosity are code inside the community for someone who is becoming hardcore. It doesn’t mean that they’re becoming violent or criminal, but it’s a red flag.

The NYPD and similar outfits will presumably have their hands even fuller now that one of the mainstays of conversational Arabic, Turkish, and various other languages has been promoted to “red flag.” According to the warped calculations of Nomani and her ilk, institutionalized discrimination and alienation will at least help solve the Muslim “problem.”

Muslims do indeed have a problem. And Nomani is part of it.