City Journal Winter 2016

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Winter 2016
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By Myron Magnet

The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735-1817

Edited with an Introduction by Myron Magnet

Modern Sex: Liberation and Its Discontents.

Eye on the News

Myron Magnet
An Ounce of Prevention
What should we do about the ISIS threat to the U.S.?
August 25, 2014
Photo by The U.S. Army

When a British-educated Muslim terrorist beheads an American journalist to display the sentiments of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria toward the United States; when photos of a Chicago office building and the White House appear on social media with hard-to-deny evidence in the pictures that ISIS is here in our own country with ill intent; when a peace-preaching imam in Canada reports that ISIS is recruiting among his flock; when an experienced U.S. senator warns of ISIS plans to blow up an American city; and when a top ex-intelligence officer cautions that ISIS terrorists have “very likely” entered the United States along with the flood of illegal immigrants surging through our southern border, what would a responsible president do?

Surely, for starters, he would use the National Guard to seal the border with Mexico, as a matter of national security, let alone national sovereignty. He would surely order the Transportation Security Administration to stop at once allowing illegal aliens to board commercial airliners without the usual government-issued identification, as is now reportedly happening routinely, perhaps allowing terrorists to move freely throughout the nation. He would order the FBI to track down illegals who are already here, and at the very least deport the suspicious and the criminal, and he would aid and encourage local law-enforcement agencies to do the same thing, rather than hinder them.

He would insist that all legal roadblocks against scrutinizing jihadist websites and social media be cleared away, and he would then monitor vigilantly, sending investigators where appropriate. He would also encourage the efforts of local police and regional joint terrorist task forces to infiltrate mosques and campus centers, and to cultivate friendly Muslim informants, on the watch for jihadist recruiters.

To be sure, the Pew polls consistently have reported that American Muslims are much more moderate, tolerant, and assimilationist in their opinions than Muslims in other parts of the world, with four out of five saying that terrorism is never justified, and only 1 percent saying that it is often justified. But 1 percent of up to 7 million American Muslims—no official census exists—is still 70,000 people. And when jihadists tell us that they are actively trying to increase that percentage, and when they have succeeded in recruiting hundreds of European Muslims to fight for ISIS, and when only a year ago they succeeded in persuading the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly to blow up the Boston Marathon, is it really racism or racial profiling, rather than common prudence, to be ultra-cautious? But the Tsarnaev case, with warnings from Russia about the radicalization of one brother allegedly pooh-poohed by the FBI and not shared with other law-enforcement agencies, should raise questions about whether the authorities are exercising even ordinary caution against a genuine threat. Moreover, the Tsarnaev family came to America on a tourist visa and then applied for political asylum. This should make us re-examine the criteria on which we admit foreigners to the United States.

It is emphatically true that not all Muslims are terrorists—that indeed very few American Muslims are. But it is no less true that most terrorists are Muslims.

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