Spying on Muslims is bad policy

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
May 23, 2016

During the presidential primary, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz suggested increased surveillance and policing of Muslim neighborhoods in the United States. This suggestion has rightly provoked the ire of many people across the political spectrum. Even more than being out of step with American values, these strategies are counterproductive to good counterterrorism policy.

But that is not the main reason to deplore them. Imagine what they say to a 15-year-old Muslim boy or girl growing up in the United States about what their country — or at least some of their politicians — think about their role in our society.

We were happy to see New York City Police Chief William Bratton strenuously object to such misguided suggestions. Bratton rightfully noted that the 900 Muslim NYPD officers, many of whom have also served in the military, were shining examples of patriotism and service.

In fact, they have contributed far more to U.S. security than the candidate who has called for such generalized suspicion. Bratton rightfully called out the silliness of the proposed solution, but the criticism should go a step further and critique the underlying diagnosis of the problem.

One of the most untold stories of the "war on terror" is the extent to which U.S. Muslim communities have not only eschewed the radical ideology that jihadists have pushed globally (ideologies that have taken hold in some places in Europe, like the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek), but even more important, such communities have worked extensively with law enforcement to help root out those in their midst who would lead children astray.

While a few communities in the U.S. have made the news because members of them have gone off to be foreign fighters abroad — such as the Somali community in Minneapolis — the same news media have wildly underplayed the extent to which those communities have worked extensively with law enforcement to secure themselves from the corrosive presence of radicals.

Read the full piece at the Times Union