There are times when I see a really hideous looking building and I think “that monstrosity didn’t just happen. Someone designed it. Someone approved it. It went before a board that signed off on funding it. And a construction company was then hired to build it.” In other words, many people, not just one architect, are to blame.
That’s how I feel we must approach the continuing disturbing revelations of biased material about Islam and Arabs that have been found in instructional manuals and other resources used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to prepare agents for their work in dealing with America’s Arab and Muslim communities.
The steady flow of leaks about these materials has established that they contain shocking misinformation about Islam and depictions of the religion and culture of Arabs and Muslims that can only be characterized as bigoted. A few examples will suffice:
“Accommodation and compromise between [Islam and the West] are impermissible and fighting [for Muslims] is obligatory”
“There may not be a ‘radical’ threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox ideology…the strategic themes animating these values are not fringe; they are mainstream”
Zakat is characterized as “a funding mechanism for combat”
“Never attempt to shake hands with an Asian… Never stare at an Asian”
While the “Western mind” is “even keel” and “outbursts are exceptional” among Arabs “outbursts and loss of control [can be] expected.” They can have “Jekyll and Hyde temper tantrums.”
There is much more in the training manuals. Reporters have found equally troubling material in the FBI’s resource library and on the agency’s internal website. In an interview with a law enforcement official who had prepared some of this offensive material, he is quoted as saying “there is evidence to support the contention that sources of terrorism in Islam may reside within the strategic themes of Islam” and “Mohammed’s mindset is a source for terrorism.”
After a year or so of these revelations, the FBI has announced that following an internal review they had removed offensive material from their programs saying that they were in “factual error…poor taste…lacked precision.” They were, however, also quick to add that in their review of over 160,000 pages of material they found only 900 pages that were problematic. Finally, they announced a new set of “guiding principles” that will henceforth govern their work in this area.
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