Speaking at a Washington-area mosque on Sunday, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough sought to strengthen ties with Muslims in fighting terrorism while reassuring them that the White House is committed to a positive and productive relationship with them.
“We must resolve that, in our determination to protect our nation, we will not stigmatize or demonize entire communities because of the actions of a few,” McDonough said at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, known as the Adams Center, in Sterling, Va. “In the United States of America, we don’t practice guilt by association. And let’s remember that just as violence and extremism are not unique to any one faith, the responsibility to oppose ignorance and violence rests with us all.”
About 500 people gathered near Times Square on Sunday to protest a series of congressional hearings planned for Thursday about the radicalization of the Muslim community. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, is holding the hearings.
Although McDonough did not explicitly mention King, the speech was a clear effort by the White House to reassure Muslims that they have allies in the U.S. government.
“We must come together, as Americans, to protect our country in a spirit of respect, tolerance and partnership,” he told the crowd. “That is the message I hope to leave with you today. And that is the message that President Obama has delivered, and will continue to deliver, throughout his presidency.”
McDonough went so far as to warn that the choice to “send a message to certain Americans that they are somehow ‘less American’ because of their faith” meant the risk of encouraging further disenchantment with the United States that leads to acts of terrorism.