For the past fifteen years, governments and international bodies have handed over enormous sums of money to fund countering violent extremism (CVE) programs. But serious critiques of the CVE industry are sorely missing. In Suspect Communities, Nguyen promises to answer this need, but the result is tiresome.
Nguyen, a progressive, contends that CVE programs serve merely to further the iniquities of the "U.S. empire." Her arguments and conclusions rely almost entirely on her activist worldview, in which "anti-Muslim racism" is a long-standing component of centuries of "colonial warfare, state repression, and coercive policies."
Suspect Communities relies on social science clichés, from hackneyed appeals to critical race theory to wild overuse of the term "gendered." Nguyen devotes significant attention to herself, her experiences investigating the subject, and her status as a "woman of color." Not coincidentally, "I", "me," and "my" appear more than four hundred times while "Islamism" and "Islamist" appear only 24 times, 22 of them in quotations. When she mentions Islamism, it is to downplay the enormity of the threat. The "war on terror" is barely mentioned and then only to note its putative role in advancing the "U.S. empire."
Not once does the author seriously consider objective, informed critiques of CVE programs. She mostly ignores academic studies, serious essays, and statistical evidence, preferring the quips of various progressivist activists, appeals to assorted progressivist virtues, and conspiratorial assertions about purported secret, deep-state agendas. She does not suggest alternative government responses to the threat of radicalization.
Such academic malfeasance prompts Nguyen to hint at justification for the murder of a British soldier on the streets of London, referencing it as a response to the "United Kingdom's violence" in Afghanistan.
Nguyen repeatedly levels accusations of disloyalty: She accuses liberals of betraying Muslims by collaborating with the "security state" under the pretense of benevolent reform; and she denounces moderate Muslim leaders, citing venomous attacks against them published by extremists in publications such as Muslim Matters, a leading American-Salafi publication.
Nguyen has written an overtly ideological tract, complete with a loaded premise and the most trendy social sciences ideas. Her book will appeal only to other activists pretending to be academics.