Even if the president’s newfound sentiments were more strategic than deeply felt, he can apply them usefully at home, too. He should want to enlist Muslim Americans in a fight many of them have already joined, and affirm that he values their citizenship.
The suicide bombing in Manchester, England, on Monday was a sickening reminder that the West still lives under the threat of terrorism. And the claim of responsibility that followed was chilling confirmation that the Islamic State group has ordered adherents outside the Middle East to carry out attacks in their own countries.
The United States hasn’t been immune. The Pakistani American couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino in 2015 and the Afghan American who killed 49 in Orlando, Fla., in 2016 all claimed allegiance to the Islamic State. And yet, despite those incidents, the United States has still suffered less Islamist terrorism than Britain or France.
One reason is straightforward: We are farther from the Middle East. A second is more subtle: The United States has done a better job of integrating Muslim immigrants and making clear that they are full-fledged citizens.
“They’re much better integrated,” Bernard Haykel, a terrorism expert at Princeton University, said recently. “They’re fully part of this country.”
That fact comes across in opinion polls. A Pew Research Center study found that 56 percent of Muslim Americans said most Muslims who come to the United States want to adopt American ways of life; only 20 percent said they want to remain distinct from U.S. society. Most Muslim Americans said they are worried by the rise of extremism in their communities. Almost all considered terrorism unjustified.
These attitudes have led many to cooperate actively with the FBI and local police forces to identify potential terrorists in their midst and pre-empt any attacks.
“Some of our most productive relationships are with people who see things and…