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Thursday, October 28, 2010

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND ISLAM: AGAIN

Yet another member of the “tiny minority of Muslims who are radical jihadists” has been arrested in Virginia for plotting to bomb Metro stations in the nation’s capital. Farooque Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan was arrested Wednesday. The Washington Post reports that: “According to the indictment, in April Ahmed began to meet in hotels in Northern Virginia with people he believed to be affiliated with a terrorist organization. He agreed to conduct video surveillance of the stations, suggested the best time to attack and the best place to place explosives to maximize casualties, the indictment alleges. “

This event comes just days after the controversial firing from National Public Radio of long time political analyst Juan Williams. Williams,made two “unforgivable” mistakes; he appeared regularly on the FOX network, often as a liberal counterpoint to conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly and he offered a personal moment in which he admitted to a feeling of unease when boarding an airplane and seeing individuals in “Muslim garb”. He went on to say he realized that it was not fair to collectivize all Muslims in this regard but it was too late. The gods of political correctness were offended; another minority had been “unfairly” stereotyped and their acolytes at NPR had to take action. Of course the CEO of NPR had excuses. Williams had been “warned” not to express personal opinions on other networks before so this was the final straw. The fact that NPR is demonstrably liberal in its content and staff, including Williams, and management was no doubt offended by him offering his services part time to FOX, is hard to dismiss as not playing a role in his termination. But the choice of his comments about Muslims on airplanes as an alleged offense is ludicrous. Williams’ comments, taken as a whole, were not offensive and indeed, not commentary at all. He was sharing a personal feeling which he himself labeled as a weakness. This same uneasiness is no doubt shared by millions of other Americans and foreign citizens given the bloody history of 9/11. Of course the left wing media and blogosphere were quick to pounce and showed that even a life long liberal and African American political analyst sensitive to the plight of minorities is an ideological apostate if they a abandon the purity of political correct thought. Williams was widely labeled as a bigot and irrational for his expressed “unease” in airports. But the billions the world has spent on security measures for air travel since the 9/11 hijackings show these insults for what they are, knee jerk demagoguery.

Now comes Farooque Ahmed to remind all those with minds unclouded by the absurdity of political correctness that concern about those who by their appearance identify with a host of violent jihadists operating world wide is an understandable, even if not a perfectly logical, reaction. Of course not “all” 1.3 billion Muslims, no matter how they dress, are terrorists. But concern, whether it rises to a level of fear or not, is a natural human emotion and is not the same thing as bigotry.

At his first hearing in federal court Ahmed appearing in a full beard, as is common in some Muslim cultures and even required in others, and his wife appearing in a full hijab, did nothing to deflect the association by non-Muslims of terrorism with the Muslim religion, the small percentage (but significant numbers) of actual participants notwithstanding. Indeed, how big must a “minority who are extremists” be before generalized assumptions about their identity and belief systems can be made. The violent actions of tens of thousands of “non-terrorist” Muslims throughout the world with regard to simple cartoons of Mohammed are clearly documented. Calls for jihad, fatwas, and death threats against journalists and authors are hardly isolated incidents.

The Washington Post reminds us of other recent terrorist incidents just in the U.S. The Christmas Day airline bomb attempt in 2009, and the more recent Times Square bomb attempt by Connecticut native Faisal Shahzad; both would have killed and injured hundreds. Hosam Smadi, a Jordanian tried to blow up an office tower in Dallas, and Michael Finton, aka Talib Islam, a Muslim convert tried to blow up a federal office building in Illinois. In fact, the Post reports that just since 2009, more than sixty American citizens have been charged or convicted of terrorist acts. These folks weren’t Presbyterians or Hassidic Jews. Juan Williams is to be applauded for both his honesty and his recognition that separating the Muslim terrorists from the wider Muslim population while necessary is very difficult.

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