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We need change, but not how Donald Trump sees it

What the U.S. expects from American Muslims, and what they can expect in return.

AS EXPECTED, terrorists have struck the American heartland. Anyone with a sense of reality knew it was coming. It had happened before.

This time, even our reluctant commander-in-chief was incapable of finding a euphemism for terror, no truth-suffocating case of "workplace violence" by a man carrying a card identifying himself as a "soldier of Allah."

It took President Obama too long to acknowledge the grim reality because of his professorial and antiseptic views of those who hate us. We are at war, and the enemy can justly be called terrorists, jihadists, Islamofascists, Islamic extremists. That isn't hate speech, it is clear speech.

Those people are part of the Muslim world, but they are not the Muslim world. That is where Donald Trump goes off a cliff with his latest dart of darkness - banning all Muslim entry to the U.S.

Some of his ideas have a grain of truth, and the grain in this one is Tashfeen Malik, the female assassin who supposedly had been thoroughly vetted before she got her fiancee visa. Can we trust our inept government to protect us from villainous immigrants?

Sunday night, Obama said a lot without saying much, but raised one new issue worth exploring.

Basically, it goes like this: What can the U.S. expect from American Muslims, and what can American Muslims can expect from the U.S.?

For the first time, Obama specifically called on Muslims to put their hands on the wheel to help steer the anti-terror bus.

In addition to enlisting Muslim communities overseas, Obama said that terror "is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse."

Why would he specifically call on the Muslim community to fight Islamofacism if Islam were not in some way involved? After years of denial, this was finally an acknowledgment that the two are linked - even if the link is that Islam is being perverted by the heartless, soulless killers, kidnappers and rapists of Islamic terrorist groups.

The West will defeat the butchers and despoilers of Islam much more quickly with the help of the Muslims who feel defamed by the terrorists.

That is what the U.S. can and should expect from its Muslim citizens.

Before getting to what American Muslims can expect from the U.S., here's a word for some tone-deaf Muslim leaders.

With Trump getting worldwide attention, this is a particularly bad moment to be criticizing America - in effect, blaming the victim.

Hussam Ayloush, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Los Angeles chapter, told CNN: "Let's not forget that some of our own foreign policy, as Americans, as the West, has fueled that extremism."

Despite whatever small measure of truth might be buried in that sentiment, with 14 bodies yet to be buried, was that the right and smart time to be offering what amounts to a justification for mass murder of civilians? Comments like those feed into Trump's hate-and-fear machine.

What can U.S. Muslims expect from the U.S.?

Fair treatment. Constitutional treatment. But also treatment based on legitimate safety concerns.

Here's where two metaphoric icebergs collide.

On the one hand, we are told, for our own safety, to be alert, and even suspicious: "If you see something, say something."

On the other hand, some have twisted that advice into a parallel of informing on your neighbors, as in the Nazi era.

Yesterday, a pig's head reportedly was found on the grounds of a North Philadelphia mosque. Observant Muslims, like observant Jews, won't touch pork. It's being investigated as a hate crime. If so, it was distasteful, but it wasn't a bomb.

(For the record, 20 years ago two people with ties to a skinhead group were arrested on charges of hanging a pig's head on the door of a synagogue in York, Pa.)

Recently a couple of local men were detained in Chicago by Southwest Airlines because they were speaking Arabic and some nervous passengers reported it. The men were delayed a few minutes and one said he was traumatized. (Get a grip.) Others with Middle Eastern appearance and accents have been detained and questioned elsewhere.

If it seems like racial profiling, it probably is, because there are millions of people who look like you who wish us harm. We are a little on edge.

That may explain the increase in anti-Muslim "hate crimes," according to the FBI. They hover in the 100 to 150 range each year.

Without minimizing that number, last year 648 of 1,140 reported victims of hate crimes were Jewish.

Given the 320 million population of the United States, those are laughably small numbers. Regrettable, but laughable.

There are two kinds of hysteria to avoid. First, the Trumpian kind against all Muslims. Second, the Muslim hysteria that a tsunami of hate is crashing down on their heads.

Sorry: You may be surveilled, you may be detained, you may be inconvenienced, people may shoot you dirty looks and call you bad names. Genuinely, I am sorry about that, that your cohorts have put you in a bad light.

Might we use surveillance on you and your mosque? Yes, with a warrant, as we would a church or a school or a deli suspected of terrorism.

American Muslims need to be as patient with other Americans as we urge other Americans to be patient with Muslims.

This is an uncomfortable period for both of us, but we're both on the same side.

Aren't we?


Phone: 215-854-5977

On Twitter: @StuBykofsky