The Department of Homeland Security (and, by extension, the Bush administration) is on a jihad against jihad — the word, that is. Its mission is to purge such terms as jihadism, Islamo-fascism, and mujahideen from our public lexicon. Is this a serious strategy or an episode in politically correct indoctrination? That question is being banged around in several venues, not least National Review Online’s “Corner.”
Last Friday, Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies contended that the DHS gambit is reminiscent of an effort by his nemesis, Linda Chavez, who chairs the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), to douse what she took to be inflammatory expressions of anti-immigrant sentiment. Mark was not merely straining to find an angle in a story only tangentially related to immigration; he noted that the DHS effort is being spearheaded by Dan Sutherland, a former employee of Linda’s who now heads DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Krikorian’s argument drew sharp rebukes from CEO’s president Roger Clegg
as well as NR
’s own John J. Miller
(a CEO co-founder and formerly its vice president). They rose to Sutherland’s defense, essentially countering that Mark was engaged in a baseless guilt-by-association tactic, that association with Linda is nothing to be guilty about in any event, and that — as John put it, based on discussions he’s had with Sutherland — DHS is implementing a strategy intended to peel our potential Muslim allies away from al-Qaeda, “not an exercise in politically correct nonsense.” (To be clear, John took pains to say he was not assessing the soundness of the DHS strategy, just that he accepts Sutherland’s explanation of the agency’s thinking.)
Like JJM and Roger, I am fond of Linda (though I tend to disagree with her on immigration issues). Unlike John and Roger, I don’t know Dan Sutherland, though the fact that they think well of him surely weighs in his favor. That said, I didn’t find Mark’s points to be frivolous, much less offensive. I leave to him to defend the parallel he bases on Linda’s arguments about immigration rhetoric. (He undertakes to do that, here.) I’m not familiar enough with what Linda has said to make an informed judgment, though I do know from my own experience that lessons from mentors tend to get applied in other contexts. What’s more, the Krikorian post did not rely solely on the Sutherland/Chavez tie. Mark recounted that Sutherland has been a point person for DHS’s Muslim outreach initiatives, and is described by a top official from one activist group as “a wonderful breath of fresh air from Homeland Security.”
Rather than address the merits of Mark’s analogy, I prefer to focus on what DHS is trying to accomplish. Respectfully, I do believe the agency, like the wider government, is engaged precisely in an exercise in political correctness.
This, after all, is not the first time such an issue has arisen. Despite mountainous evidence to the contrary, President Bush brands Islam a “religion of peace,” a status raised by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to “religion of love and peace.” The administration routinely designates as “moderates” such luminaries as Iraq’s Ayatollah Ali Sistani (who does not meet with non-Muslims — whom he regards as unclean — and calls, for example, for the brutal killing of homosexuals, citing Islamic law), the former Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (a creation of Iran which has dropped the “Revolution” from its title but remains dedicated to the establishment of a Khomeinist sharia state), and the Palestinian Fatah organization (the legacy of Yasser Arafat which sports its own terror wing and a charter committed to Israel’s destruction).
In Orwellian lockstep, DHS (like the FBI) now compels many of its agents to endure cultural sensitivity training designed to inculcate this relentlessly sunny view of Islam. A year ago, moreover, I caught the Transportation Safety Administration, a DHS agency, posting a press release from CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) on its official government website.
At the time, CAIR, which was created by an arm of Hamas and has a history of operatives being caught up in terrorism investigations, was regarded by the Justice Department as an unindicted coconspirator in a terrorism financing case, had aligned with the ACLU to sue the government over the NSA’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, and had published a “Muslim community safety kit” to counsel Muslims on how to thwart FBI investigations. Yet, this is how it was described on TSA’s website:
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
The arc of the Bush administration’s Muslim outreach has been a study in looking for love in all the wrong places (as the intrepid Muslim reformer Zuhdi Jasser explains, here). For those who’ve watched it closely, it is simply impossible to interpret the new language purge as anything but the latest in a series of maneuvers designed to condition us, against reason and experience, to accept the premise that there is no true Islamic component in the terrorist threat confronting the United States. “The civilized world is facing a ‘global’ challenge, which” the guidance assures us, “transcends geography, culture, and religion” (emphasis added). To DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, that challenge, a siege of savage strikes by Muslims — occurring the world over for what is now decades — has nothing to do with their being, you know, Muslims.