Monday, April 3, 2017

Islam on Trial (Sudha Setty)

The Boston Review featured a series of articles by legal scholars and lawyers on the legal, social, and political implications of the rise in Islamophobia in the United States.  Over the next few weeks, we will highlight the essays within this thought provoking and timely series.

Professor Sudha Setty exmaines how bipartisan consensus about the government's powers in matters of national security bolsters surveillance of Muslims, as well as other groups deemed suspect by the state.  She writes:

"Even if President Trump’s January 27 executive order barring or delaying immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries is deemed unconstitutional, the administration will continue implementing its plan to target Muslims. Trump has promised to ramp up the “respectful” surveillance of mosques and, if history serves as a guide, we should not expect popular, political, and judicial resistance to such measures to match recent furor. Since September 11, 2001, Muslim life in the United States has entailed burdens that the majority of U.S. citizens simply ignore because they do not affect us and, unlike the recent executive order, we are not privy to seeing them in action. Moreover, a high percentage of Americans are indifferent to or even supportive of Muslim citizens being watched closely by the government in the name of national security—despite the fact that at least some of the surveillance is legally indefensible and there is no evidence that it significantly improves national security.

Long before the Trump presidency, government surveillance targeted U.S. Muslims at their colleges, mosques, charities, and community centers. These shadowy practices are carried out under the umbrella of national security and exist largely beyond the reach of legal accountability. In late 2005 the New York Times disclosed the existence of a secret surveillance program against U.S. Muslims, put in place by the Bush administration in 2001. This led to public anger and accusations that the program undermined the constitutional rights of Muslims. However, rather than backing down, the Bush administration lobbied Congress to grant the legal authority to continue the program, and Congress obliged by voting overwhelmingly to enact the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008. The act retroactively authorized broad surveillance and immunized telecommunications companies and the government from lawsuits or future government investigations. Lest we forget, both chambers were controlled by Democrats, and then–Senator Obama voted for the bill."

To read Professor Setty's article in full, click here.

 

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/racelawprof/2017/04/islam-on-trial-sudha-setty.html

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