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by Peter Moskos

March 7, 2011

Fight the Terror

I received an email from Richard Hughbank with a letter written by Police Major Joseph Bail, Jr. (ret.). This is in response to the Washington Monthly article I linked to a short while back. Hughbank asked if I would post it. It’s too long to post. It’s very long (too long?). But I’m happy to link to it.

Mostly it’s a character defense of a few of the people attacked in the article, including Hughbank. Please understand I don’t know any of these people from Adam. So I have no idea what the truth is. Nor can I delve into the issues of journalism ethics involved here. Though I do find a 40-year veteran police officer (Major Bail) complaining about being duped by a smooth talking interrogator to be a bit precious. Even I was taught in the police academy, "Don't get into a battle of words with people who buy ink by the barrel."

But as to character anti-defamation, I’m happy to help. Character anti-defamation is a worthy cause.

But beyond that, honestly... I think the letter supports the article's main point: people with a thin or false knowledge of Islam are being paid to miss-educate police about Islam and terrorism prevention in the US.

Let’s assume, for instance, that one of the guys slammed in the piece really did train with the biggest baddest Russian special forces ever. And let’s say that he can can bench 500lb, run a 4-second 100-meter dash, and that in hand-to-hand combat he can kick Bruce Lee’s ass and use it as an ashtray. He's a real-life Rambo. If we were conducting a tactical raid on terrorists, that would be the guy I would want on my side. But what does special-force training have to do with anti-terrorism education? This isn't about skills, it's about knowledge.

From the letter:
I am mad that the politically motivated, Islam-loving, terrorist-apologizing media continues to paint the Muslim extremists as reasonable, decent people.
Honestly, I don’t think anybody in media, “liberal” or otherwise, paints terrorist extremists as reasonable, decent people. But indeed, the “terrorist-apologizing media” might point out that the vast majority of the worlds billions of Muslims are not terrorists or extremists. This seems to be the main point of contention.
Perhaps the real lesson to be learned from this is that there are people out there who are ideologically motivated to see that America is unprepared for the next terror attacks. And they will do anything possible to undermine us.
There’s that “us-versus-them” and slightly conspiratorial attitude that worries me. I guess because I disagree with their world-view, by these standards I would be a “them.” But I don't want to make America unprepared for the next terror attacks! Hell, my city of New York will probably be the target.

Here's my fear, which the letter does nothing to lessen: simplistic right-wing anti-Islam thinking makes a successful terrorist attack much more likely. To defeat “them” (terrorists, not Muslims) we need people like "them" (Muslims, not terrorists) to tell us what "they" are planning to do. Thinking of all Muslims as potential and wannabe terrorists is not only wrong, it will only make it much more likely that the next terrorist attack will succeed. To think that Islam is the enemy is as silly as thinking that every black who lives in the ghetto is a criminal. Not only is it wrong, it makes you an ineffective police officer because you can't focus your attention on those who need your attention, the criminals who actual want to kill you.


Anonymous said...

....Have you seen "thee rant" website?

PCM said...

The NYPD Rant? Yeah, but I don't look at it much.

Jay Livingston said...

"I am mad that the politically motivated, Islam-loving, terrorist-apologizing media continues to paint the Muslim extremists as reasonable, decent people." Actually, it's the opposite. The guys like him are trying to paint reasonable, decent people (nearly all Muslims in the US) as Muslim extremists.

Joshua said...

We replied to Bail's letter here: http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/rightsliberties/1472/how_we_train_our_cops_to_fear_islam

The response is in a pdf document, on the top right-hand side of the page.