The PJ Tatler

Finding Moderate Muslims

Fox News is reporting that no less a terrorist than Anwar Al-Awlaki was a guest at the Pentagon not long after 9/11. The invitation to lunch with Pentagon officials was evidently intended to reach out to moderate Muslims. The full story of how a man who, following the death of OBL, is now a notch closer the top of the “Kill or Capture” list could have been regarded as “moderate” remains to be told: no one around the Pentagon then appears to remember how it happened. Apparently some naif in the Office of the Secretary of Defense attended a talk by Al-Awlaki and was impressed. The story raises a larger question: how do U.S. officials identify candidates in the continuing, but largely fruitless, search for moderate Muslims who can be mobilized to oppose Islamist radicals, an activity often thought to be the political dimension of the war on Islamist terror? The answer is: not well. One reason is the tendency of clueless officials to gravitate toward those Muslim “leaders” who appear to be the most aggrieved, those who complain the loudest of “Islamophobia.” Thus do CAIR and ISNA, get romanced while real moderate Muslims are largely ignored. My suggestion to the outreach bureaucracy: avoid self-proclaimed “moderates” who complain of Muslim bashing and reject the advice of well-meaning colleagues who wander into a lecture then claim to know that what they have just heard establishes the speaker as a moderate. After that, consult Steve Emerson who knows what he’s talking about.