Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the Homegrown Threat
NYU School of Law Report on Racial Profiling of Muslims in the United States
The report identifies four trends among law enforcement that leads to to the surveillance of Muslims.
The first is conflating Muslims with terrorists.
The popular notion of terrorism has become inextricably linked to Muslims and Islam, due in no small part to a host of government policies targeting Muslims as potential terrorists. There is also evidence to suggest that many law enforcement agencies are trained with materials that construct Muslims as potential terrorists.
In addition, the construction of a terrorist “Other” has conflated notions of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, and political views, effectively racializing Islam, Muslims, and Muslim religious practice as radically threatening to U.S. national security interests. Muslim men have been constructed as particularly dangerous.
“Muslim” and “Arab” are no longer discrete signifiers of religion or race but have been combined—by the media, popular conceptions, and the government’s own practices and policies—into a broader category of “Muslim looking people.” Muslim cultural and religious practices have also been marked in various ways as indicators of potential terrorist criminality.
In turn, law enforcement officers target those who they perceive to look or act like Muslims in terrorism investigations, surveillance, and prosecutions.
The second is promoting the myth of radicalization.
The 2007 NYPD report entitled “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat” has been pivotal in popularizing radicalization theories. Though the theories underlying the report have been criticized as “thinly sourced” and “reductionist,”they continue to enjoy support at the highest levels of government…. Equally troubling, the so-called markers of radicalization are over-determinate and focused on Muslim religious practice in fundamentally discriminatory ways.
The King hearing is only the most recent manifestation of the government’s adoption of the radicalization theory. Elsewhere, President Barack Obama, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center, have all embraced the theory of radicalization.
The third is preventative policing.
Rather than focusing on the policing of criminal activity, this approach facilitates the criminalization of those who “act Muslim,” either through their religious practice, attendance at a mosque, or their expression of political opinions critical of U.S. foreign policy.
The use of informants appears to be a core feature of this model of policing terrorism.
The last is permissive legal frameworks.
The U.S. government has aggressively used material support statutes, conspiracy or attempt charges, or combinations thereof in terrorism prosecutions, resulting in the criminalization of a range of behaviors that do not seem to be indicative of any intent to commit a violent crime.
Moreover, the DOJ’s guidance on racial profiling bans profiling on the basis of race and ethnicity, but does not explicitly ban profiling on the basis of religion or national origin, and creates loopholes for racial profiling in national security and border security contexts.
Things to Take Away:
We all know that when law enforcement looks for crime within a specific paradigm, they will find it and this inevitably turns into proof that a certain population is criminal. All Pakistanis must support terrorism since OBL was found in their backyard; all Muslims must be radical since I can give you a few examples of domestic terrorism; all blacks must be drug dealers since they are the ones filling the prisons.
But those of having to deal with these discourses on a day to day basis understand that no, actually more white people do/sell drugs but more black people go to jail because blackness is conflated with a regime of criminality. And now, this regime has been extended to the Muslims of America.
The importance of this report is to show you that individual experiences are part of a larger framework and systemic pattern; and that your activism must address this larger framework as effectively as possible. A lot of silence and scattered conversations exist but putting them together and allowing communities to the make the connection between people who have been unfairly jailed, deported, etc will allow for better solidarity.
STFUIslamophobes made the important point today that we need to not draw Mohammad or w/e but start educating people on what islamophobia is and how it arises. So take to the streets, your schools, and communities, and go for it!