The other day, at a book display in a major US store, attention was drawn to a new book entitled, The Grand Jihad by Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor. The book basically is a polemical diatribe on the presence of Muslims and their organisations in the United States. It starts off by attacking President Barack Obama for courteously bowing before King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. It makes much of Obamas middle name, Hussein, to insinuate that he may be a Muslim in disguise, and doesnt spare even his long-deceased mother, Ann, labelling her a Communist. The author makes an astounding claim that the hidden agenda of US Muslims and their organisations is for a hostile takeover of America. The book today by McCarthy is reminiscent of the anti-Communist paranoia stirred by his namesake, Senator McCarthy, 60 years ago, which pandered to a lynch mob mentality embedded deeply in a dark corner of Americas past. The use of the terminology in the book, 'Islamist and 'Islamism, rhymes with Communist and Communism, thereby drawing from a pre-existing reservoir of ill will. One would be hard-pressed to find a similarly hateful book against another community or faith in a mainstream American store. The book leaves a false perception of Muslim aims and influence in America. It shows that, while the overtly anti-Muslim bile of the Bush-Cheney administration may have abated, some are still intent on painting Muslims as outsiders in America and part of a subversive Fifth Column, so as to disenfranchise and de-legitimise the community. The intended agenda and aim is not that hard to decipher: to present the US Muslim community as an illicit entity to be viewed with suspicion. Much is also made about the politics of demography. Although Obama in his landmark speech at Cairo of June 4, 2009, depicted American Muslims as seven million strong, the author posits that US Muslims are barely over a million, suggesting that their constituency is too statistically insignificant to be accommodated in any meaningful fashion in US mainstream society. Recent episodes may have encouraged Muslim baiters. Helen Thomas, the 90-year old grand dame of American journalism, who for decades occupied the front row position at the White House press conferences, was ousted for having an opinion on the legitimacy of Israeli presence in the Middle East. And The New York Times, on June 20, reported on the furore created by an attempt of a Muslim group to open a mosque in New York, stating: It is difficult in 2010 to imagine that a new church or synagogue would face the same opposition as the mosque proposed for Staten Island, or another one in Lower Manhattan. Muslims, in effect, are penalised from exercising their right to free expression protected and enshrined in the First Amendment to the US Constitution (which prohibits any law abridging the freedom of speech). In striking contrast, the United States - primarily because of the powerful gun lobby - is unwilling to establish any meaningful gun control, despite a fear by many Americans of the terror of random crime often perpetrated with guns. Only recently, a US Supreme Court ruling (McDonald v. Chicago) questioned a Chicago ban on individuals possessing hand guns, relying on the Second Amendment to the US Constitution which cites the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The moment is ripe for the US Muslim community to reassess whether its current posture and priorities are adding to its woes and vulnerability. To start with, the pitiful presence of Muslims in areas of media, academia, law, creative arts, and in policy making needs to be swiftly rectified. A community which aspires to be vibrant and thriving has to meet this challenge head-on. The writer is a barrister and a senior political analyst.