PC isn’t just annoying. It’s Dangerous.
With the possible exception of gun owners and white guys over 40, we are not allowed to “generalize” or “profile” or “stereotype” in our culture, and I think all reasonable people understand why: if, say, God forbid, your wife were sexually assaulted by a Catholic, you would not be justified in dismissing every Catholic as a likely rapist.
Even if a strange pattern began emerging in the news featuring gangs of young Catholic men tracking down and raping what they considered to be immodestly dressed women, we would likely go out of way to make sure nice Catholics didn’t get picked on. America is fair to a fault. In our country, you can almost guarantee police departments would randomly stop Lutheran baseball teams just to make sure it all looked fair.
You could argue that our entire, expensive TSA apparatus was designed, in fact, to appear “fair,” even if it meant that “effective” had to be sacrificed. “Innocent until proven guilty” is worth protecting, but therein lies the rub: when no one has committed a crime, how far can we go in trying to predict one?
I think the problem of Islamic terror is a fascinating exercise in war planning because, certainly, we can all sympathize with the “westernized” Muslim who loves major league baseball, pizza, bikinis, and beer. We certainly don’t want him radicalized. We certainly don’t want him taking his religion seriously. We really would prefer he sees “jihad” as a struggle to go gluten free as opposed to kuffar free.
Since 9-11, if you had to summarize our fight against Islamic extremism, it’s seems to be as simple as “keep Achmed eating ice cream and going to the movies.”
Unfortunately, that doesn’t work very well in addressing the full scope of the problem. People can’t be blamed for simple pattern recognition. If dozens of mass terror attacks were preceded by someone holding up a cross and yelling, “for the glory of St. Peter,” good Roman Catholics would begin to feel the weight of people looking at them with caution, if not suspicion. Moreover, if these violent events were to gain more and more momentum, we wouldn’t be doing decent Roman Catholics a favor by pretending the radicals in their midst were less a problem than the broader public’s natural reaction to them. We would properly want to help them root out their own poison, and decent Roman Catholics would want our help as well.
Substitute anything you like here for “Roman Catholic.” If any group had shown a propensity for violence, then good Mormons, good Lutherans, good secular humanists would accept heightened law enforcement scrutiny, profiling, and rigorous review of their internet life in order to identify and isolate the radicals. Why? Because you can’t protect any of our axiomatic assumptions about life in the west — trial by jury, democracy, freedom of expression — if the stated intention of a radical is to destroy those very assumptions. You can’t live in the house and burn it down as well. A Marxist can pine away for a one party state, but if he goes to hot war against the franchise itself, he becomes an enemy combatant, and his fellow travelers have an obligation to identify him, rat on him, and testify against him in a court of law. The first step in winning a war against extremists rests in isolating him from the rest of his closest friends and kin.
With respect to Islam, our cheery, somewhat faux, affection for Muslims who love the west isn’t doing them, or us, any good if our primary response to terror stops there. We need to have undercover agents in mosques. We need law abiding Muslims on the lookout for anyone suspicious. We need declarations of loyalty to our core principles and a strident Muslim voice condemning violent jihad in no uncertain terms. We need to help Muslims condemn the violence in their own history and their own theology, and we need to see them allowing their prophet and their scripture to be mocked, as the price they pay for living in a free society. For a time, we many need to encourage what, in another context, would constitute entrapment; we need to lure would be radicals into pretend acts of violence, so they can be arrested and put away forever.
The lives of anyone close to a terrorist, moreover, have to get very uncomfortable, and frightening, and the power of the state to justifiably harass its enemies needs to be made generally known. As it stands now, each new act of terror increases social prejudice against Muslims, which can only further radicalize the fringes, but focused, investigative condemnation of those close to a known terrorist is a trial not generally advertised — and it must be. Every mosque in America, every Muslim family, must fear the state mightily if anyone they know commits one of these acts.
The acts of terror we are witnessing may appear clandestine, but no man — even a closet ISIS fan — is an island. Internet sites are consulted. Plans are made. Conversations take place. Ugly opinions are given voice — and someone in those communities hears those voices. If the potential culprits are not reported, what are we to conclude? Isn’t it possible we have conditioned those Muslims to be as tolerant of violent jihad as we are of those enabling it by silence? If we don’t begin condemning the communities and the theology that support this sort of terror, we won’t win the battle by simply pretending everyone loves each other. And if we don’t get serious about fighting the battle, we either get used to slaughter as the new normal, or we wind our way down towards more dramatic and more repugnant choices — internment camps, deportation, and civil war.
What will it be, America?