Jewish World Review Feb. 11, 2002 / 29 Shevat, 5762

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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So, I "propagate hatred"


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- ZAHID MAHMUD thinks I "propagate hatred" by advocating that granting of visas to most Muslims be suspended until we can be confident applicants are not coming here to hijack airliners or blow up day care centers.

An inspector for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (who withheld his name "for fear of job loss") agrees:

"You were right on target until you started talking about Muslims," he wrote. "It's true that we at INS have our hands tied by politics. However, at least our hands are not tied by racism. We do not pick or choose who we allow to come into the United States by what they believe, but by their action!"

Mahmud points out, correctly, that a majority of Muslim countries support us in the war on terror. But while it is true that most Muslims are not our enemies, it is also true that all of our enemies so far identified are Muslims.

We have many more enemies in the Muslim world than the politically correct acknowledge. Western experts on Islam JWR contributor Daniel Pipes and Bernard Lewis estimate that at as much as 30 percent of the world's nearly a billion Muslims share the religious principles that motivate Osama bin Laden, and half or more sympathize more with bin Laden than they do with us.

And the vast majority of Muslims pay at least lip service to the principle that the purpose of secular government is to impose Islamic law on everyone. This directly contravenes our First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion, and makes Muslims potentially subversive in a way that Buddhists and Hindus are not.

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, illustrated the tensions between Islamic fundamentalism and democratic liberty in a story December 18: Asad Thahim, a Pakistani here on a student visa, entered a liquor store wielding a golf club. He declared it was against his religion for wine to be consumed, and he was going to break every bottle in the place. He destroyed nearly $50,000 worth of liquor and took a swing at the store manager before police subdued him.

Thahim illustrates why it is critical we be able to distinguish between Islam the religion, and Islamic fundamentalism as a political movement. Few of us object to Muslims because they pray in mosques rather than in churches or synagogues. But most of us wouldn't want to live in a medieval fascist state like Afghanistan under the Taliban, and have a right to be wary of those who would like to impose such a state upon us. We can applaud Thahim's personal decision to abstain from alcohol. But we cannot tolerate his attempt to impose teetotalism by violence upon the rest of us.

That Thahim has yet to be deported illustrates why our immigration system needs to be overhauled. We should not admit people like him to this country, and we should expel from this country noncitizens who share his views. They are a danger to all of us.

The Census Bureau estimates the number of people in this country illegally approximates the population of New York City, and the number of illegals increases each year by about the equivalent of the population of Madison, Wisconsin.

The Census Bureau estimates that roughly 40,000 of the illegals are Muslims. How many among them are like Asad Thahim, or Zacarious Moussaoui? Keeping such people out is prudent, not "racist." If the Irish Republican Army had attacked the World Trade Center, I suspect I'd have a harder time getting on airplanes than guys named Sven or Grigorio or Zahid, and I wouldn't whine about it.

We did not permit Japanese or German immigration during World War II, for the obvious reasons. I do not advocate a permanent ban on Muslim immigration; just a pause in it until we've fixed our border control system.

Zahid Mahmud thinks this would embarrass and inconvenience the majority of Muslims who wish us no harm, and he's right. But the victims of 9/11 suffered more than embarrassment and inconvenience. Even in wartime, public safety isn't the only concern. But it should be the paramount concern.



Comment on JWR contributor Jack Kelly's column by clicking here.

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© 2002, Jack Kelly