"President Obama always says 'Muslim and Arab Americans'. If you want to make an impact, you should say Muslim and African American or South Asian Americans because those are really the key communities," he said. According to the official U.S. government website, America.gov, two-thirds of all Arab-Americans are Christian.
However, Williams admits there could have been more outreach from some Muslim communities.
"It wasn't until 9/11 when you had some of these very immigrant-based, marginalized, or to-the-side Muslim communities – I mean, if you went to their Islamic centers, you could see that they were trying to make it feel like they were back in Karachi. Or back in Cairo. You know, they're still speaking Arabic, a lot of these were alienated, but out in Southern California, we didn't have that. We have a vision of being American Muslims."
America.gov also states, "The size of the Muslim-American population has proved difficult to measure because the U.S. Census does not track religious affiliation. Estimates vary widely from 2 million to 7 million. What is clear, however, is that the Muslim-American population has been growing rapidly as a result of immigration, a high birth rate, and conversions."
Williams supports the idea of Park51, but is not actively engaged in advocating it. He, like other Muslim Americans working in the U.S. government, are going about their full-time jobs, in Congress, at the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon, where there is also a space for Islamic prayer.
Muslim Americans who speak critical languages, such as Farsi and Arabic, often work in the U.S. national security apparatus. Yet, as with those who work for members of Congress, they prefer not to associate their religion with their government affiliation.
But it does not mean they do not have strong personal views of the planned mosque.
"Mosques, no matter where they are built, are houses of worship for Americans who happen to be Muslim, of whom a good number works on national security issues," a Muslim American State Department official told ABC News.
"To say this center would be a monument to terrorism is ironic and offensive to say the least," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity and from personal opinion, not on behalf of the State Department.
Williams says the debate is fracturing Americans.
"A lot of the people don't understand what they're doing is sending the wrong message of what it is to be American. Who has the right to grieve and who doesn't. Who has the right to define sacred space," said Williams. "That's what the terrorists want, to cause rifts and cause marginalization…they're creating that situation and people are falling into it."
A recent spate of discovered homegrown plots by young Islamic terrorists have put Americans on edge, such as the actual attack by Fort Hood shooter and army psychologist Nidal Hassan, the failed Christmas Day "underwear bomber" Abdul Farouq Abdulmutallab, the failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad and Najibullah Zazi, who was arrested in 2009 for planning attacks on the New York City metro system.