Posted by on August 08, 2011 in Blog

Last Wednesday August 3rd, President Obama released to the public a new effort to combat potential domestic terrorism entitled, “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism.” In a short statement before press, the President outlined the methods and goals of the new program. Unlike past efforts that have relied heavily upon local law enforcement to help combat violent extremism, the President’s new policy would call for a community-based approach.

The theory is as follows: to best aid in strengthening ties, it is better to use the federal agencies that already provide community members with much needed services. In this respect the new strategy released by the White House expands upon the lessons of the British Prevent Model which attempted to root out violent extremism through local law enforcement. Previous efforts have only served to further marginalize the Arab American and American Muslim communities, and on a pragmatic level, have already demonstrated deep flaws.

However, to some in the media the new approach seems to have fallen on slightly deaf ears. In an editorial published in the Los Angeles Times today, entitled “An implausible plan to fight terrorism through community outreach” the author declares Obama’s new plan to be implausible, and criticizes the strategy for doing too little to protect Americans from the so called “lone wolf” - an individual who acts alone to commit an act of terrorism. 

According to the editorial, “an outreach program for Muslim communities, one that promotes nonviolence and dialogue with the larger society, is not a bad idea. The question is whether it would have much effect on the sort of “lone wolf” terrorist who pose the greatest threat. The report offers no convincing evidence that the programs that work with gang members and school children would also deter violence by jihadists.” While the new approach is likely to be more effective at developing ties to local Arab American and American Muslims communities, the authors point about the so called “lone wolf” is well taken.

 How do we develop a strategy that can effectively target the inner working of an individual who acts alone, and is committed to death and destruction regardless of the ideology behind it?  While the President’s approach to combating violent extremism is a big step forward for all Americans, including those in the selected communities, all citizens of this nation have a stake in preventing a crazed individual from engaging in violence.   This applies to Arab Americans, American Muslims, Irish Americans, Italian Americans and I could keep going.   That’s the point.  The “lone wolf” attack is a threat to all of us from potentially anyone.  President Obama seems to get this. The LA Times, not so much.

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