That's what the congresswoman representing the ninth district in North Carolina (my home district) told me on Monday. "I want to start a conversation with America."
In a phone conversation with me, Myrick said one reason she's added video warnings to her fight against "the dangers we face from Islamofascism" -- as it's labeled on her congressional Web site -- is to highlight the voices of the majority of Muslims, "the moderate mainstream." They are as concerned as she is about "radical Islamic extremists" and the "long list of attacks that have been thwarted in the last year."
"They don't have a voice," she said.
Jibril Hough, spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Charlotte, has met with Myrick and thinks she "means well."
"She always tries to say she's not talking about all Muslims," said Hough, "and I believe she's truthful." But he also believes she doesn't "put as much energy" into spreading that particular part of her message.
The Republican congresswoman last week announced the launch of an Internet-based video series that's available on her Web site, as well as on her official YouTube channel. The first two videos in the series, which promises to "offer information and commentary on current events, as well as legislative updates from Washington," focus on the failed Christmas Day attack on an airliner bound for Detroit, and the Nov. 5 shootings at Fort Hood, Tex., that killed 13. Click play below to watch the Fort Hood video:
In the video on the Christmas Day incident, Myrick says, "You're not being told the whole story of why these incidents are happening."
"There is a radicalization going on in this country and across the world that has a great effect on our national security," she says. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," she continues, citing radicalization on the Internet and "in mosques," a concern she repeated in our conversation.
In the video, Myrick says there are "people who have been indoctrinated into the same line of thinking that are now in positions in our government," though she doesn't name names. (Comments on the site do not hesitate to offer some suggestions, asserting that "radical Islam is sitting in the Oval Office." Myrick, who said she can't control what people say, told me, "I don't call him that.")
Her recommended reading list in the video includes "They Must Be Stopped," by Brigitte Gabriel, founder of Act! for America, a non-profit advocacy organization that warns of "tens of thousands of Islamic militants" living in America, in "sleeper cells, attending our colleges and universities, even infiltrating our government."
"If the American people don't know what's going on," Myrick concludes in the video, "we might as well hang it up." Click play below to watch:
Myrick said on Monday that she's gotten very good feedback so far, and it's only the beginning. She said "the rest of the story" -- including a plan by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egypt-based Islamist group -- will be revealed in subsequent videos. While admitting that it all sounds "very radical" and smacks of conspiracy theory "if you are not educated, in the sense that the American public is not educated," she gave me a preview: "What they want to do is re-create the caliphate that happened . . . when they ruled the world." Steps include plans to throw out our government and "throw out our Constitution and force us to live under sharia law." The plan, she said, came out in the Holy Land case, in which -- after more than 15 years of investigation and two trials -- the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation and five of its former organizers were found guilty of giving more than $12 million to the Palestinian group Hamas.
"There's a bigger picture here," but if you just put the message out in bits and pieces, "it doesn't make sense to anybody." She said, "We're way ahead of where the American people are."
The most controversial part of her message may be the contention about sympathizers in "all the agencies" of government -- the State Department, "some in Justice," Homeland Security – "who don't do radical terrorism" but who have been indoctrinated to deflect the issue, she said, to "make it look like it's not really important or it doesn't matter."
Myrick also pointed to universities -- singling out Georgetown and Harvard -- where she said fundamentalist Wahhabis, many of whom are Saudis, give a lot of money for the teaching of courses that "brainwash" students "into the way of thought" that sharia law is acceptable.
"People with this ideology are very determined," she said. "They have patience -- the patience of Job, as those of us who are Christian used to talk about." Americans, she said, forget something two days after it happens.
The urgent tone in these videos and Myrick's increasingly visible and vocal stands won't be surprising to anyone who has been following the eight-term congresswoman.
Myrick made news in October when she wrote a foreword for and appeared on behalf of "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America." The book, by former Air Force investigator P. David Gaubatz and journalist Paul Sperry, accuses the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of, among other things, placing spies as interns on Capitol Hill. Myrick, with GOP congressmen John Shadegg and Trent Franks (both of Arizona) and Paul Broun (Georgia), asked the House sergeant at arms to investigate whether CAIR, a nonprofit civil-rights advocacy group, placed interns in national security committees, according to TPMmuckraker.
Critics, including an organization representing minority caucuses in Congress, denounced the call to investigate Muslim interns, drawing comparisons to the McCarthy era. The statement from the Congressional Tri-Caucus said: "If anything, we should be encouraging all Americans to engage in the U.S. political process; to take part in, and to contribute to, the great democratic experiment that is America."
Back in January 2003, Myrick took heat for remarks she had earlier made to the conservative Heritage Foundation about domestic security threats. In a question-and-answer session, she said: "Look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country. Every little town you go into, you know?" Myrick, who later said she didn't mean to single out any one ethnic group, was criticized then by many, including CAIR and the National Association of Convenience Stores.
Myrick -- who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and is a member of the health subcommittee and the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection subcommittee -- has long been known as one of the most conservative House members. She is a member and onetime chair of the Republican Study Committee, a group of House Republicans organized to advance a conservative economic and social agenda, and whose members include Minnesota's Michele Bachmann and South Carolina's Joe Wilson, now forever known as the "you lie" guy.
Since last year, she has served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which has jurisdiction over the intelligence-related activities of the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and other agencies of the Department of Defense and the Departments of State, Justice and Treasury.
In January 2007, Myrick founded the bipartisan Anti-Terrorism Caucus. She and Reps. Bud Cramer (D-Ala.), Kay Granger (R-Tex.) and Jane Harman (D-Calif.) are caucus co-chairs.
Her "Wake Up America" 2.0 Agenda is an updated and expanded version of her original Wake Up America Agenda, introduced in 2008. That 10-point plan included a call "for the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate the selection process of Arabic translators in the FBI and Department of Defense." The 2.0 Agenda continues the original's call for the investigation of CAIR.
Hough, of the Islamic Center of Charlotte, fears the videos are "just going to stir up" Myrick's constituents. When he met with Myrick about a month ago after she made comments after the Fort Hood shooting, "she asked me what she could do," Hough said. He asked for a town-hall meeting. "I told her there will be some tough questions -- based on her rhetoric and sound bites." But he told her if she wanted to have a national conversation, she would have to start locally.
Rather than not talking enough about radical Islam, Hough feels that there's been too much talk, and it's the wrong kind. "People are getting rich," he said, publishing books and videos, appearing on talk radio and Fox News "to spread the fear" and incorrect ideas about Islam. The phrase "extreme Islam" is, he said, a contradiction: "In Islam, we're told to take the middle path, even in the practice of religion."
Hough, a married father of three, has worked with officials on issues such as regulations for the labeling of halal meat and Muslim women's right to wear a scarf to work. He said he wants to be a part of the American system, not change it, and that he is as concerned as any American about travel safety. He points out that the father of the accused in the Christmas Day bombing attempt had warned officials. If law enforcement would do its job, he said, there would be no reason to restrict civil rights and liberties.
"I still think it's easier to practice the Islamic faith in America than anyplace else, including places you would call a Muslim country," Hough believes. "But we could be getting close to that day when it really is going to get hard," and he doesn't think the tone of Myrick's videos is helping. He looks forward to that town-hall meeting that Myrick said is still "on the drawing board."
In the meantime, the congresswoman continues undaunted. She has taken her fight across the Atlantic, where she is cooperating with European officials on strategy as a member of the Trans-Atlantic Parliamentary Group on Counter Jihadi-Terrorism.
She speaks of an impending threat, and yet, as Hough has said, she is quite gracious while doing it. I learned how kind Sue Myrick can be when she spent quite a bit of time with my son during his week in Washington as a presidential scholar in 2001 -- June 2001. Now her passionate fight is for all our children and grandchildren, she said, noting that "national security is the primary responsibility of the federal government." Myrick said she is "trying to look ahead and stop something before it gets to the point that we don't have a choice."
Sue Myrick says America is in peril and she intends to do something about it.
In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.