British PM Theresa May had some strong words today about dealing with the now-enormous threat posed by radical Islamists in the United Kingdom. We in America have much to glean from her statement.
We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change, and they need to change in four important ways. pic.twitter.com/szq25idIC7
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) June 4, 2017
The prime minister minced no words, saying “things need to change.”
First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism.
It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.
Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone. It will not be defeated through the maintenance of a permanent, defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skillful its leaders and practitioners.
It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them understand that our values – pluralistic, British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.
Since the British have not yet developed a mind-control device, this talk is probably not one about “winning the hearts and minds” of people dedicated to the destruction of Western (“pluralistic, British”) values.
The whole “winning the hearts and minds” thing has been tried, and to date, has failed miserably, every single time.
So May is talking about something else. She mentioned military action to destroy ISIS, but although ISIS claimed responsibility for both the Manchester and the London Bridge attacks, dealing with ISIS is not enough.
While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.
So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out – across the public sector and across society.
That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism – and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities, but as one truly United Kingdom.
I agree with everything May said, except one paragraph: “It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.”
It’s going to be difficult to sell that thought to people who see Sharia law being enforced in areas with a high concentration of Muslims. It’s going to be harder to sell it when the measures to deal with extremism kick in.
According to Fox News, these may include a burka ban, “round ups” of suspected terrorists, and stripping of citizenship.
Given that these measures in general only apply to Muslims (like President Trump’s travel ban, and Obama’s before him), the intention is clear: large populations of Muslims, unassimilated and led by their religious figures, are incompatible with pluralistic British values.
In other words: If Muslims wish to live in England, they must assimilate and desegregate.
Could America do what May suggests?
I have had long discussions with various people here in the U.S. about how this could work in our country. How could Americans deal with a population that refuses to assimilate, refuses to integrate into American society, and rejects pluralistic, American values?
We have a First Amendment that protects religious speech and practice. Christians bristled with outrage and fought Houston Mayor Annise Parker in her bid to subpoena sermons preached by pastors to vet them for “hate speech” against LGBTs. Would we now support similar measures against Muslims?
It’s a slippery slope.
Would we be able to remain friendly with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iraq while rounding up Wahabist and Salafist Muslims as terror suspects and taking action to jail or strip them of their citizenship? Probably not, but it might be in their interests not to burn bridges.
We have the Fifth Amendment, Sixth Amendment, and Fourteenth Amendment to protect against such things done to American citizens. But we also have Korematsu v. United States, a legal precedent giving the government wide powers to “round up” and intern Americans–even citizens–to protect against espionage or other threats in time of war.
If America could somehow declare war against a stateless, “single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism” (to use May’s words), then would the government have authority to round up adherents to that enemy, just like Roosevelt did with Executive Order 9066?
On its face, it seems likely, although given the toxic environment on liberal federal benches regarding anything Trump does, it would be a long legal battle, punctuated with the worst invective. But if it was an actual time of war, with American civilians perishing?
Yes, the U.S. government could set up internment camps for Muslims.
But no, it probably wouldn’t have the right to close down mosques, or demand the contents of sermons preached by imams. But the FBI does have quite a range of intelligence-gathering methods, as we’ve seen recently.
I don’t suppose it would be difficult, using gumshoe investigation techniques and good old-fashioned surveillance and informants, to keep tabs on America’s relatively small Muslim population. (Actually, there are more Muslims in America than in the U.K., but a far smaller percentage of the population, and they are not as segregated as in the U.K.)
After 9/11, these techniques were used by the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the NYPD to keep tabs on New York area mosques, but the program was shut down after it was exposed. If what’s happening in England happened here, I expect we wouldn’t hear the same complaints we heard just a few years ago.
I also suspect that if not for the secret NYPD program, we might actually be having the same “difficult and often embarrassing conversations” they are having right now in England. It might be time to look at reviving those measures, before we actually need to do something more drastic.
I know that, to liberals and politically correct snowflakes, that’s less palatable than having seven or ten or twenty people die every month or so. In England, however, they’ve had enough of politically correct deadly fantasies.