In a curious e-mail today titled "MPAC Meets with Secretary of State Colin Powell—Here's Why" the Muslim Public Affairs Council justifies its willingness to meet yesterday with America's chief diplomat.
One might not think an organization would need to defend such a step but MPAC notes that because "The meeting did not conclude in a change of policy and will not directly lead to any change in the immediate future," it feels compelled to explain itself. In replying to its challengers, MPAC offers two notable (and surely unintended) insights into its outlook. First it asserts that
Failures in current US policies in the Muslim world are directly proportional to the exclusion in Washington of legitimate American Muslim voices representing the mainstream.
That U.S. policies have failed in the Muslim world (as opposed to the Muslim world having failed the United States) is in itself arguable, but the really interesting implication here is that non-Muslims cannot successfully make policy vis-à-vis Muslims, and that this is something only Muslims can do. (Incidentally, this is an idea that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office seems to accept, as suggested by Jack Straw in a speech in December 2003 when he stated that, "increasingly when we have Ambassadors and High Commissioners going out to work in Islamic countries, we also make sure that it is part of their training that they go to visit the diaspora communities.")
Second, it confides that
We [meaning MPAC] merely reflect the sentiment of Muslims worldwide, and decisions affecting their lives should be made in their cities, not in Washington.
MPAC, which normally emphasizes its patriotism ("Our country, the United States of America" reads a subsequent paragraph) has slipped here and let its true views come out. Its goal, we learn, is not to promote American interests but to "reflect the sentiment of Muslims worldwide" to Americans. Or, because Muslims have many different views and MPAC has one specific view, a more accurate formulation would be, "reflect the sentiment of Islamists worldwide" to Americans.
Thank you, MPAC, for clarifying who should be in charge in Washington and who you represent. (June 18, 2004)