What to do with militant extremists in our midst? It’s a question Americans have faced before

cropped-choices-ms-photo.jpgA lot of people are wrestling with how this country should deal with militant Muslims in our midst. I think most of us have no issue with American Muslims who do not advocate for anything at odds with our US civic virtues and democratic traditions and practices. Concerns naturally arise with US-based Muslims who post, preach and otherwise advocate for the things we hear being said by members of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) and other radical Muslim groups. Many advocate deporting anyone who engages in this sort of thing. Of course, we have homegrown militants in our midst, among them neo-Nazis and Klansmen who preach things that inspire hatred and sometimes violence on the part of their members and sympathizers. One could argue are they are citizens and enjoy certain legal and constitutional protections which renders deportation or “quarantine” a nonissue, but then some extremist Muslims in the US also are citizens (Some born here). Deporting a US citizen to the country their ancestors came from might be emotionally satisfying to some folks but it would open a door that could quickly be abused by the state.

Has America faced the issue of how to deal with antidemocratic, intolerant ideologues in modern times (20th century forward)? Sure thing. In the 1930s there were more than a few individuals and organizations that wanted to see Nazism replace democracy in the US. Some were immigrants (many of these, Germans), others naturalized citizens and others US born. More than a few spokesmen for and leaders of prominent pro-Nazi organs wound up running afoul of the law and in jail or prison. A few were deported and others interned in camps built to house enemy aliens and such after America went to war with Japan and then Germany.  The solution then was pretty much this: Outspoken Nazis were rebuffed by their fellow citizens, monitored by law enforcement especially the FBI,  and prosecuted when they did anything illegal and were caught. Yep, the people back then were doing pretty what we are doing now with extremists and antidemocratic elements in our midst (With the exception of establishing internment camps).

Should we do more? I guess your answer to that depends on how much freedom you are willing to sacrifice for your sense of  security. It’s not an easy equation to work out without risking opening the floodgates to terrorism on one hand — and turning American into a police state on the other.

Whatever your answer, I’d wager many of you reading this will find certain remarks made back in 1938 by Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Henry (on the heels of the conviction of a group of Nazis in Suffolk County,  NY State) appealing:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYWlSmn2Ou4

The salient part is 45 seconds into this 1m:23s video. Quoting Mr. Henry, “If these persons prefer some other form of government let them get out of the United States and stay out.”

 

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About Dr. Anthony G. Payne

I am a word & ideas weaver, hypothesis spinner, artist, Celtic Catholic monk, long time member of MENSA, and a BIA certified American Indian and tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. You can readily reach me by shooting an e-mail to nativescienceguy@gmail.com.

Posted on October 2, 2014, in DISPUTES & CONTROVERSIES, MINISTRY OF ENLIGHTENMENT, OP-ED and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on What to do with militant extremists in our midst? It’s a question Americans have faced before.

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