DHS’s Countering Violent Extremism Programs:
Talking Points [Ill-conceived, Ineffective, Stigmatizing]
1. CVE focuses solely on Muslims, while there is a lack of statistical backing for the narrative that violent extremism is a uniquely Muslim problem in America.
According to the government’s own numbers, no more than of 250 out of 7 million Muslims in the US have left the country to join ISIS. This constitutes .00003% of the Muslim population in the US.
There were no DHS or [DOJ] CVE programs, for example, directed to white, Christian communities after former Ku Klux Klansman Frazier Glenn Miller murdered people at a Jewish community center last April, even though West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center reported that far right extremists attack and kill more Americans than any other terror groups.
According to a DHS report, right-wing domestic terrorist groups pose an equal, if not greater, threat than foreign groups.
2. CVE stigmatizes Muslims by only engaging them through the lens of national security.
While CVE may provide funding opportunities for Muslim organizations and masajid for substantive needs including social services and mental health, civic engagement, and youth development – doing so through the frame of national security isolates Muslims from other underserved communities and further stigmatizes them in the public discourse.
Funding that is in any way facilitated through law enforcement would furthermore stigmatize important social services and prevent those in need from seeking these resources.
3. Law enforcement should only involve themselves where there is actual evidence of criminal activity.
Police and the intelligence community should follow proven criminal law enforcement standards and involve themselves only where there is actual evidence of criminal activity, and not on the faulty premise that an entire community is suspect by association.
An assumption upon which CVE programs are built is that Muslim Americans do not report criminal activity.
4. Indicators for violent extremism which would prompt law enforcement intervention are ambiguous at best, and historically have been problematic and inaccurate.
The actual indicators which would prompt law enforcement intervention in a particular case are thus far undefined by the LA Framework for CVE. All that we have to judge these indicators are historical precedents, wherein local and national law enforcement have profiled community members on the basis of their religious observance. It also turns a blind eye to the history of national and local law enforcement in communities of color throughout American history – namely, the experiences of the African American community and COINTELPRO.
5. Community leaders already report violent and illegal behavior to authorities; creating further mechanisms for reporting to law enforcement would increase the risk of civil rights violations.
Muslim leaders – like most logical people – call 911 when they are privy to an actual act of violence that would inflict harm on others.
6. Prevention programs have existed without the involvement of law enforcement.
There are many worthwhile social service, civic engagement, and youth development programs listed in the LA Framework for CVE which do in fact combat violent extremism while bringing many other benefits to the community. They have thus far existed without the involvement of law enforcement, and will continue to do so, under the leadership and autonomy of our communities. Islam, in and of itself, is an antidote for extremism, and mainstream Muslim institutions have been leaders in the fight against violent extremism for centuries now.
7. CVE does not address root causes of political repression and US foreign policy.
Violent extremism is not produced in a vacuum. It is created and sustained through environments of repression and systemic violence, in part perpetuated by US military intervention and political meddling in many Muslim-majority countries.
8. The assumption that this is the better and more merciful alternative to FBI entrapment and law enforcement surveillance creates a false dichotomy.
CVE is not an alternative; it is an addition to ongoing entrapment and surveillance in our communities. To believe that more aggressive policies will disappear with the introduction of CVE is an unfounded and wishful assumption.
9. The assumption that CVE “will happen anyway” creates a false sense of powerlessness.
False. CVE relies on partnership with community leaders and institutions. With no partners, there will be no CVE.
The power of our collective voice was exemplified in 2007 when all Muslim American organizations rejected LAPD’s plan to map the Muslim community. LAPD scrapped the plan.