On Wednesday, December 6th, 2017, IWP President Dr. John Lenczowski testified on the topic of “Advancing Human Rights to Combat Extremism” before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa, Global Heath, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. Dr. Lenczowski was joined by Dr. Thomas Farr (Georgetown University), Dr. Sayyid Syeed (Islamic Society of North America), and Mr. Neil Hicks (Human Rights First) to testify before Chairman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and his committee members.
Before the hearing, Chairman Smith stated, “The advancement of fundamental human rights — in particular, freedom of religion — should be a core objective of U.S. foreign policy… We need to encourage such voices of moderation in the Islamic world, while waging a full-throated war of ideas with radical extremists such as ISIS. The ideological battlefield is just as important as the territorial one.”
During his testimony, Dr. Lenczowski explained how an emphasis on human rights can be used to combat jihadist extremism. He asserted that the extremist problem is multi-faceted: “This is a problem of politics, propaganda, ideology, culture, economic opportunity, and extremist, politicized, religious doctrines. To solve this problem necessitates fighting a war of ideas, and the problem is that we have virtually no ideological warriors in this war.”
Dr. Lenczowski called for an ideological combat strategy mirroring the United States’ Cold War strategy, which undermined the Marxist-Leninist core of the Soviet regime that committed human rights violations. The U.S. promised victims “a positive alternative: human rights, freedom, democracy, and hope for a better life.”
In the same way, to eradicate radical Islamism, the United States must adopt an ideological counter-attack based on superior moral precepts. Dr. Lenczowski urged “telling the truth about radical Islamism” by ending self-censorship and “conducting an information campaign exposing jihadist ideology [and related crimes against human rights].” Additionally, there must be a positive alternative promoting human rights and, moreover, “the dignity of the human person as the creation of God.” Right now, however, the United States government, in Dr. Lenczowski’s words, “is intellectually, culturally, and organizationally unprepared to combat both elements of the radical jihadist threat and to fight a true war of ideas.” He challenged the current administration and Congress to make the changes necessary to be prepared in this ideological war.
During the subcommittee’s time allotted for questions, Dr. Lenczowski was called upon to defend his comparison of jihadist extremism to Marxist-Leninist doctrine by Ranking Member Karen Bass (D-CA) who, from an economic standpoint, “[did not] understand that comparison at all.” Dr. Lenczowski explained that his comparison had to do with ideology, rather than economic implications, noting that both ideologies contained a “rejection…of objective moral standards.”
Dr. Lenczowski received praise from Representatives Francis Rooney (R-FL) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) for his testimony, as well as his career-long fight for ideological integrity in the United States government. His testimony will go on the record as a strong warning against extremist ideology, an urgent plea to challenge it, and an imperative challenge to preserve the dignity of human life.
For the full video of the hearing “Advancing Human Rights to Combat Extremism” and Dr. Lenczowski’s full text of statement, please visit https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-hearing-advancing-human-rights-combat-extremism/.