TCS Daily

Tolerating Intolerance

By Herbert London - February 25, 2003 12:00 AM

On February 5, the Wall Street Journal published a remarkable story about how taxpayer-supported operations within prisons are used to spread radicalism and sedition in America.

Although the story focused on one chaplain, Warith Deen Umar, it could be written about dozens of Wahhabist imams who have recruited inmates for the Muslim faith and, in many instances, exploited an antipathy to "the system" in order to promote anti-American sentiment.

In fact, the growth in conversion to Islam in the United States very closely corresponds to the increase in incarceration rates among African-Americans. Prison officials contend that these imams preach the value of work, the blessings of family, the importance of education, and the need for personal responsibility. What they do not say is that they also preach an intolerance for people and sects that don't follow Islam's teachings.

Moreover, these imams are not monitored during their prison tours. Prison officials contend that religious thought and prayers are constitutionally protected from any interference by authorities. In many instances, these imams are subsidized by the Saudi Arabian government and Muslim charities. Several of the mosques sponsoring this proselytizing have been raided by FBI agents who suspect that Saudi money is being transferred through them to Middle Eastern terrorists.

On September 11, 2001, the chaplain at the Cape Vincent, New York, prison preached that Allah had "inflicted his punishment on the wicked and the victims deserved what they got." Prison officials were shocked at this claim but did nothing about it for fear that any restraint would spark a riot. Six weeks later, the chaplain at Albion Correctional Facility for women told inmates that Osama bin Laden "is a soldier of Allah, a hero of Allah."

Here in the land of the free, prisons have become a breeding ground for seditious thought and potentially seditious action. Killers of Americans and Israelis are invariably honored as martyrs in U.S. prisons, and the simplistic statement, "without justice, there will be warfare," is widely employed. Imams readily concede that prison wardens do not want their radical form of Islam being taught in their prisons, but so long as no one stops them, they will continue to preach their absolutist Wahhabist doctrine.

How is it that a prison system designed to rehabilitate inmates promotes hate and violence? Why should a religious view inimical to American welfare be considered untouchable? Why should a foreign government be permitted to conspire against the United States using prisoners as its agents? And why are the American government, its prison authorities, and the public seemingly acquiescent?

The answer to these questions and many attendant ones is that intolerance of any kind is now considered an unpardonable sin. America has become the land of tolerance, even when that tolerance protects intolerance.

Think about it: in a taxpayer-subsidized U.S. institution, Osama bin Laden is honored. Consider as well that imams preaching hate are said to be absolutely protected by the Constitution. To say that this is madness is putting it mildly. Americans at the moment are promoting their own destruction and only a tiny minority realizes it.

A generation of inmates has already been trained to become quislings. For those who always find a reason to hate America, there is nothing particularly unsettling about this. For the large majority of Americans who have been brainwashed by postmodernism into accepting any position as reasonable ("that's merely his opinion" being a national refrain), intolerance is defined simply as an attitude different from one's own.

One can only hope that Americans will awaken from this hypnosis and realize that their survival is dependent on fighting hate and marshalling the energy to be intolerant towards intolerance.

America is a great nation today in part because it has always possessed the will to deter and defeat its enemies. Now we have an enemy in our midst, one determined to undermine our government and kill people. He can be found across the sea, in desert terrorist camps, and in tax-supported prisons here in the United States. This is no longer an issue that can be avoided. It is bad enough that prisons today tolerate rape; under no circumstances can the American population allow them to tolerate sedition.

Herbert I. London is president of the Hudson Institute.

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