The Muslim ‘Radicalization’ Myth Debunked

Justin Elliot at Salon.com talks with the author of a report from the Brennan Center for Justice on the difference between Peter King’s hysterical homeland security hearings and actual work to combat terrorism:

When Rep. Peter King’s controversial hearing on Muslim “radicalization” finally convened on Thursday, members of Congress had the opportunity to take some good shots at each other, and the relatives of two Americans who became extremists gave emotional testimony about their experiences.

What the hearing did not feature was any serious, evidence-based consideration of the actual issue of so-called homegrown terrorism by Muslim Americans.

King and other Republicans spent a lot of time going after the Muslim group CAIR and defending themselves from Democratic complaints that the hearing was bigoted. As TPM put it: “Peter King Hearing Focuses On Whether Peter King Hearing Was a Good Idea.”

As it turns out, there is rigorous academic work being done on the “radicalization” issue. The Brennan Center for Justice, for example, released a report in advance of the King hearing looking at flaws in the government’s approach to combating radicalization and terrorism in the United States. The report concludes: “Radicalization is complex. Yet a thinly-sourced, reductionist view of how people become terrorists has gained unwarranted legitimacy in some counter-terrorism circles.”

To learn more about this — and to find out what the government should be doing to combat terrorism — I spoke with the author of the report, Faiza Patel. She is co-director of the Liberty & National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. The following is a transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Is there a generally accepted definition for “radicalization”?

There are a lot of different ways in which people use the term. People use it very broadly to refer to the process of embracing ideas that are outside of widely accepted religious or political spectrum. So they use it to refer to, for example, Muslims who believe in the restoration of the caliphate. People have used it to talk about Tea Party politicians who have argued that private businesses should be allowed to discriminate. But in the wake of 9/11, the term has been used narrowly to mean the process that leads people — particularly Muslims — to embrace violence as a means for achieving political or social change.

Isn’t it possible to be “radicalized” without being a terrorist or committing a crime?

I think it’s really important to recognize that radicalization as most people talk about it has two components. One is speech and religious activity that’s protected by the Constitution. The other component is criminal activity such as preparing for a violent act or raising money for a terrorist organization. That end of the spectrum is worrisome.

Read the full post at Salon.com

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  • Azefze

    I interviewed a select group of people who all showed the same behavior. Therefor my research is absolute.

    Nice one…

  • Azefze

    I interviewed a select group of people who all showed the same behavior. Therefor my research is absolute.

    Nice one…

  • Haystack

    “Radicalization” has always struck me as a particularly Orwellian term. It seems to imply some kind of hypnosis. People don’t “become radical” through their own agency, it’s something that is done to them, at which point we are led to imagine them walking around in trance, chanting “death to America” and attaching C-4 to things.

    I by no means advocate violence, but we’ll get nowhere if we don’t recognize the deeper causes of terrorism.

  • Haystack

    “Radicalization” has always struck me as a particularly Orwellian term. It seems to imply some kind of hypnosis. People don’t “become radical” through their own agency, it’s something that is done to them, at which point we are led to imagine them walking around in trance, chanting “death to America” and attaching C-4 to things.

    I by no means advocate violence, but we’ll get nowhere if we don’t recognize the deeper causes of terrorism.

  • Haystack

    “Radicalization” has always struck me as a particularly Orwellian term. It seems to imply some kind of hypnosis. People don’t “become radical” through their own agency, it’s something that is done to them, at which point we are led to imagine them walking around in trance, chanting “death to America” and attaching C-4 to things.

    I by no means advocate violence, but we’ll get nowhere if we don’t recognize the deeper causes of terrorism.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WQNC3AUHLPCELT5EONKAHAWB24 George Madison
  • Hadrian999

    the simple fact is if islamic radicalization in the US were such a threat we would have been seeing constant terror attacks on our soil already, not just idiots being set up by the fbi, terror attacks are very simple to carry out and nearly impossible to foil if the people running them have half a brain.

  • Hadrian999

    the simple fact is if islamic radicalization in the US were such a threat we would have been seeing constant terror attacks on our soil already, not just idiots being set up by the fbi, terror attacks are very simple to carry out and nearly impossible to foil if the people running them have half a brain.