Self-revision has historically been a sign of America’s strength. Last week, the world had an opportunity to see this process in action. As an American Muslim living outside the United States, I join the L.A. Times editorial board in applauding the Los Angeles Police Department’s decision to scrap its ill-advised plan to “map” the Muslim community in Los Angeles. I also applaud the LAPD for its cooperation with national organizations, including the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the American Civil Liberties Union, in coming to this enlightened decision.
Considering today’s highly-charged social and political atmosphere, few things could have done more to harm U.S. intentions at home and abroad. If America had allowed this not-so-discrete form of religious profiling to pass, it would have done nothing but isolate its Muslim youth and further tarnish its already sore international reputation.
Los Angeles has always been a beacon of American multiculturalism. Growing up there, I remember how the city’s diversity made it very easy to feel accepted — even as a Muslim after the 9/11 attacks. It is partly because of this all-embracing atmosphere that the Muslim community, particularly its youth, has been able to integrate so well into American society. Go to your local mosque on Fridays and you’ll see an average-looking bunch of Americans — skater boys, fashion divas (yes, even veiled ones) and perhaps a nerd or two.
But an initiative like the mapping project would have implied that the presence of American Muslims is a threat to the greater community. Muslims in the United States, and I again stress their youth, feel betrayed and isolated by the rejection of the community they are proud to be a part of. Instead of inadvertently humiliating them, governmental institutions should foster closer ties with their local Muslim populations. Positive engagement with Muslim Americans will get America much further in combating terrorism than any mapping program might. (MORE)