This past Saturday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson delivered what amounted to an impassioned pep talk to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) at the group’s annual conference in Chicago.
Johnson, The Washington Post notes, “was the first sitting Cabinet secretary and the highest-ranking U.S. official to address an ISNA conference,” adding:
He told the crowd of hundreds of Muslim religious and political leaders, activists and professionals that he hoped his appearance at the conference serves as a precedent for future appearances by officials of his rank. And he compared the Muslim American struggle for recognition, respect and equal rights to that of other American religious, racial and ethnic communities.
“Do not despair,” he is quoted as saying at one point. “If you know American history, take comfort in learning from it.”
That’s sage advice. The secretary would do well to follow it. The history of the group he was addressing has also been well documented. From the Investigative Project on Terrorism:
ISNA was founded in 1981 by American-based members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In its early years, ISNA’s leadership was dominated by people tied to the Brotherhood.