Conservative blog The Daily Caller is criticizing a 2011 Department of Homeland Security document, claiming the document proves the Obama administration is friendly to Islamists. But a careful reading of the original document shows only an effort to respect the First Amendment rights of religious and political groups.
According to the Daily Caller, “the DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties notifies local and national law enforcement officials that it is Obama administration policy to consider specifically Islamic criticism of the American system of government legitimate” in the document, titled “Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Training: Do's & Don'ts.”
However, the Daily Caller piece includes a link to the original document, which in no way condones Islamic radicalism. The memo sets out guidelines for hiring speakers when training DHS employees to deal with violent extremists. The memo seems designed to prevent DHS offices from hiring speakers with a political or commercial agenda, as would be appropriate in any government entity under any administration.
The Caller was critical of one portion of the document, which states on full:
Do not use training that equates radical thought, religious expression, freedom to protest, or other constitutionally-protected activity, with criminal activity. One can have radical thoughts/ideas, including disliking the U.S. government, without being violent; for example, trainers who equate the desire for Sharia law with criminal activity violate basic tenets of the First Amendment.
The conservative blog was also critical of this portion, which it quoted selectively:
Do not use training that relies on fear or conspiracies to motivate law enforcement. Don't use training premised on theories with little or no evidence to support them. Examples (from the report “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace”) of unsubstantiated theories include:
a. Many mainstream Muslim organizations have terrorist ties
b. Mainstream Muslim organizations are fronts for Islamic political organizations whose true desire is to establish Sharia law in America. Muslim Americans are using democratic processes, like litigation and free speech, to subvert democracy and install Sharia law.
In Islam, “Sharia” refers to “infallible” religious law, and varies across cultures.
The document is clearly designed to protect the free speech and religious rights of US citizens. The Caller tries to contrast the Obama administration's view on radical speech with an earlier document discussing non-Muslim right-wing groups, such as anti-abortion protesters.