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How to Lose a War

There is currently more reason to fear violent extremism emanating from certain American mosques than there is to suspect it to come from the average U.S. synagogue or church.

NYPD officers blindfolded by new regulations.

NYPD officers blindfolded by new regulations.
Photo Credit: courtesy

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

For some years now the swiftest path to a Pulitzer Prize has been well-known. Notwithstanding at least one distinguished recent winner, it remains that there is only one sure-fire way to get to the attention of the Pulitzer judging committee – and that is to severely and irreparably damage American national security.

Best of all, of course, is to endanger the lives of U.S. combat personnel while they are in the field of battle. This is the arena in which the New York Times has appeared to aim for Pulitzer predominance during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But in recent weeks, the Gray Lady has outdone even herself. After all, the American and global publics may have got used to the Times helping to lose wars abroad. But how to excuse her for apparently seeking to lose a war at home in America?

A recent front page of the Times led with an article “revealing” how the New York Police Department [NYPD] had done something truly terrible. What was the outrage that demanded front-page treatment? It was, in the words of the Times‘ own headline writers, that “New York Police Recruit Muslims as Informants on Terrorism“. The paper reported that the NYPD sought informants from within American Muslim communities and that some of those questioned by police had found the exercise “coercive.” The police were reported to have kept notes of which mosque a particular suspect had attended and whether or not he had performed the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Among the bizarre aspects of the New York Times story was that it relied for its sources on Muslims who had been questioned while held in jail. There was also no querying over whether such sources could be relied upon, nor even a question if people arrested and imprisoned for breaking the law should be deemed entirely reliable witnesses.

As terrorism expert Steven Emerson put it:

“As part of the paranoid Times narrative, the reporter portrayed as unethical and racist the tried and proven law-enforcement technique of recruiting informants among different ethnic population pools. The same tactic is applied in the fight against illegal gangs, druggies, and criminal organizations: street gangs, Mexican drug cartels, Japanese yakuza gangs, Italian mafia, etc. Recruiting members of different ethnic and racial groups to infiltrate gangs and criminals has been a successful, legal and proven technique of collecting vital intelligence by law-enforcement officials across the country.”

But although the Times would presumably be content with the NYPD infiltration of drug cartels, law enforcement’s recruitment of members of the American Muslim community is called “racist” and such a breach of accepted protocol that it deserved full front-page treatment. And here we run headlong into the deeper denial.

It is true that only 3,000 people were killed by Islamic extremists on September 11th 2001. And it is also true that only 3 people were killed and an estimated 260 or so others wounded a year ago at the Boston Marathon just over a year ago. It was only one Islamic extremist who planted a car-bomb in Times Square in 2010 and an Islamic extremist US Army Major who gunned down 13 U.S. service personnel at Fort Hood a year earlier. And it is true that successive U.S. governments have – by an admittedly curious variety of names – described the Islamist threat as the primary domestic security threat facing American. But why, in the eyes of the New York Times, would this mean that the NYPD would even think of speaking to people the Times describes as “Muslims”? How could the NYPD have gone so far off-piste that it required specific targeting of Muslims as informers? At the heart of that question, its ludicrousness and its obviousness, lies one of the great fallacies of our age.

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