Friday, November 13, 2009

To PC or not to PC

I stayed up late in Israel on Monday to watch the memorial ceremony at Fort Hood and was struck both by the loss, and the crime that was committed. The memorial was truly poignant and my heart goes out to the families of the victims, and for a full and speedy recovery of those who were injured.

I was also struck by the fact that while in some news outlets and media reports (perhaps more so as facts are discovered), the majority have not focused on the reality that the perpetrator of this crime was motivated by Islamic extremism and hatred. There’s no need to suggest that this makes all Moslems bad. That’s not accurate and not fair. But there’s also no need to bury this out of a sense of hyper political correctness. That’s also not accurate or fair because, especially in the case of such fanaticism, people deserve to know the facts and to be aware of challenges that may confront them, be it at a shopping mall, sky scraper, at an airport or even within the security of a US military base.

Does hyper political correctness breed or foster terrorism? No. Terrorists foster terrorism and any other excuses are simple folly. However, if we can’t call an Islamic terrorist a terrorist, are we blinding ourselves from the probability that not only will it happen again, but that it will catch us off guard, and possibly enter a military base or other area which we never imagined would be within the terrorists reach. Of course, nobody ever imagined that Islamic terrorists would ever take down the World Trade Center, murdering 3000. Except the terrorists.

It seems that in an effort by the Obama administration to reach out and establish dialogue with the Moslem world, the US has had to dumb down certain realities relating to Islamic terror. The Administration does not use Islamic and terrorist in the same sentence, even when it’s as plain as day and incontrovertible. Too much of the news media is quick to follow suit. The Administration seems to go out of its way to stick its' head in the sand to avoid risking the ire of Moslems around the world, putting our collective head in the sand along with theirs by making the average person simply not aware of the realities and challenges that these terrorists pose. How, in a representative democracy, do we hold our elected leaders accountable for doing their job, or not, if they’re hiding the truth to begin with.

In the early aftermath of the reporting of the terrorist attack at Fort Hood, I was watching Geraldo Rivera as part of a panel discussing this. Geraldo is not known to be the most conservative of thinkers to put it mildly. It was telling that when the issue of addressing this as an Islamic terrorist attack and the potential need to give extra scrutiny to Moslems within the US military, even Geraldo hesitated. His inclination is that it’s wrong, but faced with the facts, his hesitation was significant. I appreciate that many people feel that politically such scrutiny, maybe even (hated) profiling, would be an affront to their democratic sensibilities. I love that we can have that debate in a free and open society, even though I fall on the side of those who would limit personal freedom for the greater good and public safety. But equally telling is that when a man like Geraldo whose own social and political leanings are to the left hesitates to give what might otherwise be a knee-jerk reaction, you know that there’s something wrong with this picture.

When President Obama, and the majority of the news media, cannot bring themselves to connect the fact that the perpetrator espoused violent and hateful fundamentalist Islamic ideologies, and that the murder was an Islamic terrorist attack against Americans on US soil, the best one can say is that it is misleading. The President can allude to this by calling it a “tragedy” and saying “no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts, no just and loving God looks upon them with favor,” but by not calling it what it is, but not expecting Moslems who find this an affront as well to look deeper inside their own communities to out those who would seek to harm others and the interests of the United States, is as much of an outrage as it is to call the murders at Fort Hood merely a “tragedy.” It’s tragic when a young person dies needlessly in a car accident or by some other natural disaster. It’s tragic when a child is left without his parents. But Fort Hood is much more. The same way the President said that “no words can fill the void that has been left,” so too the wrong words can cause this to happen again.

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the memorial for the victims of the Fort Hood terrorist attack took place on the same day as the execution of another murderer, John Allen Muhammed, the Beltway Sniper. Some have attributed his murder spree as an attempt to set up a terrorist training base in Canada. Who knows? But we deserve the right to know, and not have the religious origin of this, or any other crime, clouded by the opiate of political correctness.

Shakespeare wrote “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” So to terrorism by any other name would be as foul. But first let’s call a rose a rose, a spade a spade, and an Islamic terrorist an Islamic terrorist, and stop with the modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s other timeless question, ”to PC or not to PC, that is the question.”

Let us hold elected leaders and news media accountable for lies of omission, and let them call a terrorist a terrorist without worrying how it will play in Cairo, Riyadh or Tehran. After all, if we can’t stop Islamic terrorists from trying to kill us, I’d at least like to know who it is taking aim so I can be careful.