By demanding that the enormous threat of homegrown Islamist terrorism be downplayed to mollify hurt feelings, do those professing to champion Muslims actually betray them?

Such thoughts are inspired by the controversial March 10 hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims, especially Congressman Keith Ellison's tearful testimony about Mohammad Salman Hamdani, a Muslim paramedic who rushed to aid rescue efforts at the doomed World Trade Center, only to perish in the collapse. He painted Hamdani as an early target of the alleged decade-long witch hunt against Muslims, maintaining that the heroic man's faith had led some to suspect his involvement in the attack when he could not be located in its aftermath.

Ellison's tale of the Hamdani smearing, which may be based on flimsy evidence, serves as a microcosm of the representative's inverted perceptions and priorities. He and others squawk about protecting the rights of Muslims, but what about the right to live? Though they warn that highlighting the singular menace of violent jihad — as opposed to pretending that neo-Nazis or environmental extremists pose a comparable danger — places good Muslims at risk, the circumstances of Hamdani's death provide a needed reality check on the true peril faced by Muslims and non-Muslims alike: "Islamophobia" did not kill this man; radical Islam did.

Putting aside the question of whether they care a whit about non-Muslims, have Islamist pressure groups and their leftist helpers considered how terrorism impacts Muslims' lives? As they peddle the trumped-up threat of "Islamophobia," actual Islamist terrorism is murdering actual Muslims, both globally and domestically: Muslims comprised 85% of al-Qaeda's victims from 2004 to 2008, numerous innocent Muslims like Hamdani died on 9/11, and the March 10 testimony of Abdirizak Bihi, whose nephew had been radicalized in the U.S. and killed while on jihad in Somalia, illuminated yet another path by which Islamism snuffs out the lives of Muslims.

What about "Islamophobia"? Though Islamists and their allies depict bigotry as a veritable life-or-death matter for American Muslims, the data say otherwise. Indeed, online FBI hate crime statistics, spanning 1996 to 2009, record not even a single Muslim dying due to an anti-Islamic incident in the United States. Islamist terrorism kills Muslims; "Islamophobia" does not.

Protecting people begins with protecting their lives. Thus, those who truly care about Muslims' well-being must acknowledge the hard truths of violent jihad — Islamists dominate U.S. terror prosecutions since 9/11, Islamists are responsible for a vastly outsized contribution to domestic terrorism, and this scourge kills plenty of Muslims in addition to non-Muslims — and then demand that Islamic radicalization be spotlighted and combated with all vigor. The lamenters of "Islamophobia" also should note a secondary benefit: if Americans saw Muslims leading the fight against homegrown jihadist terrorism, their views of Islam could only improve.

In contrast, those who portray themselves as Muslims' guardians but resist dealing with Islamist terrorism have very different priorities: playing the victim card to muzzle critics and score political points — even if it means sacrificing human lives, including the lives of Muslims.