Political correctness was getting in the way of needed police patrols of Muslim neighborhoods, Cruz said in an interview with CNN.
Here’s a news flash for Cruz, a sitting U.S. senator: Police and U.S. intelligence agencies already are working in Muslim neighborhoods but in a smarter way than he suggests. Many police departments are working with Muslims in their communities in a collaborative — instead of hostile and antagonistic — way. Covert monitoring is likely happening as well.
Take Dearborn, Michigan, where one-third of the city’s population is Arab-American or of Arab descent. Dearborn officials have long worked to ensure the city’s Arab population isn’t marginalized and to integrate new arrivals into the Detroit suburb.
This is especially important for the city’s police department. Because of its relationships with residents, Muslims now report concerns about friends and even family members to police. Twice in recent years, fathers have contacted Police chief Ron Haddad to report concerns that their sons were being radicalized online, he told Politico. They contacted Haddad’s department because his officers have built a rapport with community members, and the concerned parents knew who to reach out to and trust. In northern Virginia, police disrupted a plot to blow up a Metrorail station in 2010, after a member of a mosque there reported the plan to police, Politico reported.
Conservative commentators often criticize Muslims for not standing up to radicalism and terrorism. But this does not reflect reality in the U.S., Haddad and Jessica Stern, an expert on radicalization at Harvard, told Politico.
ISIS recruiters are less successful in the U.S. than in Europe, Stern said, because “American Muslims are just too happy.” American Muslims are patriotic, Stern said, so when their kids think of joining jihadi groups, their parents in America want to stop them.
“Fortunately, in some cities in the U.S., law enforcement personnel have built up relationships of trust,” she said. That’s part of the reason why there is less Muslim radicalization in the United States than in western Europe, where Muslims are often segregated into ghettos, which breeds resentment and anger, especially among young men and women. They become more susceptible to messages of radicalization and revenge, exactly the phenomenon believed to have fueled the attacks in Paris last year and Brussels last week.
Sen. Angus King reiterated this message of collaboration and inclusion after returning late last week from a tour of Europe with other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“It’s what ISIS wants,” King, who was in Paris when the attacks in Brussels happened, said. “They want the West to marginalize Muslims” and isolate them, making them more susceptible to being radicalized.
In remarks at Bowdoin College on Friday, King cautioned that isolating Muslims in the United States could create “cauldrons of discontent” similar to those he saw in Europe.
One such cauldron is Molenbeek, a Brussels neighborhood. Belgian authorities arrested one of the men involved in last year’s Paris attacks in Molenbeek just days before the bombings in Brussels. Several other men involved in the Paris attacks had previously been arrested in the poor, crowded neighborhood, which CNN described as “a hotbed of violent jihadist ideology.”
Americans should not be complacent about the possibility of radicalization and attacks in the U.S. But inclusion, not marginalization, is hands down the better approach to neutralizing such threats than lockdowns and surveillance.