Counter this

When I was working on the Weekly Standard article “The threat from ‘Minnesota men,'” I tried to get an interview with United States Attorney for Minnesota Andrew Luger about the pilot Countering Violent Extremism Program of which he is the nominal head. I studied up on the program as directed by Luger’s spokesman. The spokesman ultimately sent me on my way with a few unkind words about my failings while declining my request. I concluded that Luger didn’t want to talk about it, probably with good reason.

Today’s Star Tribune carries a long article by Mila Koumpilova about the pilot Countering Violent Extremism programs in Minneapolis, Boston and Los Angeles. Koumpilova shows no evidence of having spoken with Luger either. One has to read her article with extreme care to understand that in Minnesota nobody knows what the pilot program is because as yet it is little more than a pot of money to be disbursed by a third-party. This is what I learned along the way about Minnesota’s pilot program that is in part the subject of Koumpilova’s article and the same appears to apply to one degree or another to the other purported programs she discusses.

Minnesota’s pilot program goes under the name Building Community Resilience. It is aimed at Minnesota’s large community of Somali Muslims. The pilot program was announced a year ago. Minnesota Public Radio has a report with useful background here. The program hasn’t gotten off the ground yet, but we know it invokes the usual shibboleths to explain the attraction of the Islamist cause to Somali Minnesotans:

The [framework?] identified the root causes of radicalization include:

• disaffected youth
• a deepening disconnect between youth and religious leaders
• internal identity crises
• community isolation
• lack of opportunity – including high unemployment, lack of activities for youth, and few mentors.

Is there any evidence that these supposed “root causes” get to the heart of the problem? The ten “Minnesota men” charged with seeking to join ISIS in the current cases provide a case study that tends to belie the shibboleths.

The details of Building Community Resilience have yet to be worked out. Luger has essentially subcontracted development to an entity called Youthprise. Youthprise is to administer the grant money that will fund the program. The organization recently held an information session “about its upcoming Request for Proposals for 501c3 nonprofit organizations in Minnesota that promote and enable engagement, prevention and intervention activities and services that help build the resiliency of the Somali Minnesotan community in addressing structural challenges facing the Somali youth.” Proposals were due January 29, 2016. Applicants are to be notified of the outcome of their grant requests on February 26, 2016.

In other words, we don’t know what the program amounts to yet. We only know it is based on the Marie Harf school of sociology (see above).

The memorandum of understanding between Luger and Minnesota Somali leaders (linked above) reflects the wariness of Somali-Minnesotans. It stipulates that the program will not be used for surveillance purposes by any law enforcement agency or by any person working for or on behalf of any law enforcement agency. As I have previously, I’m going to go out on a limb and say we would be better off without Building Community Resilience.

Like Countering Violent Extremism, Building Community Resilience is a classic euphemism of the Obama era. What we really need is straight talk. It doesn’t cost a penny and it pays big dividends.


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