Ferdaus really is potentially dangerous—like a lot of Muslims in America, he’s very technically skilled. In his quest to find someone to do terrorism with, he met an FBI agent who drew him into yet another of the U.S. government’s oddly elaborate sting operations. But that doesn’t mean Ferdaus didn’t have a sincere desire to kill Americans. It’s usually very hard to find out if the citizen perpetrator of a terrorist outrage is a naturalized US citizen (like Vito Corleone in The Godfather) or a native-born US citizen (like Michael Corleone.) Whatever his citizenship, he is unlikely to think of himself as an American. (Both Vito and Michael in the Godfather books thought of themselves as Sicilians.)
However, the U.S. government has announced both that Ferdaus is native-born and that they’ve decided not tell us where his parents are from. A Reuters story discloses this:
“Ferdaus was born in the United States. His immigrant parents' national origin was not disclosed, and authorities were treading carefully.
" ‘I want the public to understand that Mr. Ferdaus' conduct, as alleged in the complaint, is not reflective of a particular culture, community or religion,’ U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said [Press release] in announcing the arrest.”
[Massachusetts case ignites "home grown" attack fears, By Ros Krasny, September 29, 2011](Fox New found out, but buried, the news that Ferdaus’ father was from Bangladesh and his mother from Cape Verde— Rezwan Ferdaus had pot, other arrests: Terror suspect born and raised in Mass., myfoxboston.com, September 30, 2011.)
Needless to say, the government’s position is just crazy—of course “Mr. Ferdaus' conduct”is reflective of a particular culture, community, and religion—he’s an Islamic terrorist, so it reflects on Islam.
And on the failure of assimilation. Like Michael Corleone, Ferdaus was born in America.
So, for that matter, was US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, the woman who made the astoundingly PC statement above. The "first woman and the first Hispanic US attorney" in the state of Massachusetts, she is from Spanish Harlem in New York. Her parents were born in Puerto Rico. She was appointed by President Obama.
“Massachusetts Congressman Bill Keating said the ‘home grown’ aspect of the Ferdaus case was disturbing.Yes, well, when Congressman Peter King started holding hearings on Islamic terrorism, nobody wanted to hear about it. And many of the people who didn’t want to hear about it were Democrats.
" ‘People have been told this, but perhaps until now didn't understand how real it is,’ Keating, a first-term Democrat who sits on the homeland security committee, told Reuters
As for Anwar al-Awlaki, the real question is this: given that the only reason that Awlaki was ever considered a citizen is because of the birthright citizenship misinterpretation of Fourteenth Amendment, can we stop talking about him as if he was just like us?
He was born to Yemeni parents visiting New Mexico, he went back to Yemen when he was 7, and in subsequently returning to the United States he would sometimes use his nominal American citizenship (to get in) and sometimes tell people he was a Yemenis (to get benefits available to foreign students.)
This is what assimilation means: British born actresses Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine are sisters, both still alive as of this writing, and still not speaking to one another. (They apparently quarreled during the Truman Administration.)
They’ve both naturalized American citizens, and loyal to the United States.
During the Second World War their mother, Lillian Fontaine, was being interviewed by the late Art Linkletter. He wrote
"I was chatting with her about her famous daughters and the family background. It was wartime; Japan was a terrifying enemy. ‘Where were the girls born?’, I asked casually. ‘In Tokyo, Japan,’ she stated in a matter-of-fact tone. ‘In TOKYO!’ I exclaimed in surprise. ‘How in the world did that happen?’ Mrs. Fontaine paused for thought. ‘In the regular way, I suppose.’”The real answer: Walter Havilland, their father, was a patent attorney with a practice in Japan, and the ladies had been born in Japan during the First World War, when Japan was on the same side as Britain and the US. ( Liv Ullman, about the most Swedish person you can imagine, was also born in Japan.)
But no-one thought that they were “Japanese”. They didn’t get interned with all the Japanese-Americans, they weren’t considered part of the Japanese quota when they entered the United States, they were British.
By the same token, a number of Japanese-Americans went back to Japan before the war, and enlisted, or were drafted into, in Japan’s Armed Forces. One book claims that in 1933 there were 18, 000 Nisei (Japanese born in America—Nisei is Japanese for “second generation”) living in Japan. Since the book is called Race war: white supremacy and the Japanese attack on the British Empire, [By Gerald Horne, NYU Press, 2004] the stated reason for their living in Japan is American “bigotry targeting them.” In fact, according to this book, “racism in the United States drove many more to reside in Manchuria during the 1930s’”. That was during the Japanese Invasion and occupation of Manchuria, which I suppose means that “racism in the United States” was responsible for the Rape of Nanking. The author, Gerald Horne, a black professor, is something of an expert at finding racism in the United States responsible for things.
But the Emperor of Japan considered the American-born Japanese as his subjects, and did not so consider De Havilland and Fontaine—even though the actresses had been born in Tokyo, and the Nisei in San Francisco or Japan.
When, according to Horne, “75 American born youths of Japanese parentage” who had returned to Japan volunteered for the wartime Japanese air force, I don’t think anyone in Raymond Spruance’s Navy or Chesty Puller’s Marine Corps would have been expected to apply for a warrant before shooting them down.
Awlaki was doing the same kind of thing. He was an overseas enemy of the United States, and despite his place of birth, not an American at all.
Ferdaus, of course, is actually living in the US, and the government is going to have to prove its case on the conspiracy charges. Also, as a native-born citizen, he’s undeportable.
But here’s what you need to know about Ferdaus—although he’s lived all his life in America, thinks of himself as an enemy alien.
That’s the difference between assimilation, then and now. In World War II, a lot of Japanese-Americans were assimilated and loyal. When Senator Daniel Inouye was a teenager in Hawaii, he looked up at the bombers on December 7, 1941, and cursed them, shouting “You dirty Japs!”
Many Muslims in America looked up at the 9/11 terrorists and cheered. Some of them, like Ferdaus, would like to do it again.
The bottom line: the American assimilative mechanism is failing—not just with immigrants, but with their native-born children.
No wonder the Obama Administration is “treading carefully.”