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December 12, 2009


Eric Chen

Oops. I meant, some number of our fellow Americans are SUSCEPTIBLE to radical indoctrination, not "... suspectible to radical indoctrination".

Eric Chen

Professor Nacos,

Famous case in point: John Walker Lindh.

Your point about American Muslims as a critical resource for our country in the War on Terror reminds of a column I wrote for the Columbia Spectator in Nov 01: The Power of Diversity.


In my column, I spoke about American Muslims representing us to Muslims world-wide and educating non-Muslims at home. But it makes sense for American Muslims also to serve as front-line guardians of America from dangerous Islamic radicals at home.

Mainstream American culture doesn't prevent radicalization, Islamic or otherwise. Just in the recent media age, we've been shown enough revolution-minded, dangerous extremist groups, cults, and 'lone wolves' of different types to know that some number of our fellow Americans are suspectible to radical indoctrination. That's more true now in the digital age where someone can radicalize in the privacy of their home.

If we choose not to indoctrinate our children with strong beliefs from a heritage of our choosing, when our children ask fundamental life questions and we don't answer them satisfactorily, someone else will.

After Lindh was caught in Afghanistan, I asked one of my best friends, who had converted from Catholicism to Islam in HS, about it. He described to me the routes to different strains of Islam available for Americans choosing to convert, including radical Islam with finishing schools found in places like Yemen. Apparently, it's not hard for a disaffected personality, already shopping for a consuming ideology, to follow the path to radical islam.

As you've taught, we're in a war in which a critical component is a global contest of ideology and ideas played out within communities and the minds of individuals. As chosen by President Bush, the American creed in the ideological component of the war is a progressive liberalism incompatible with revolutionary radical Islam. Unfortunately, the self-described liberals who relentlessly attacked our definitively liberal strategy sabotaged progressive liberalism and empowered the enemy's ideology in a zero-sum contest. We can only hope that it's not too late for President Obama, wielding the same liberal strategy and message as President Bush, to recover the losses inflicted on our side by short-sighted partisan betrayers of liberalism.

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