9/11 and Other Man-Caused Disasters
Let’s talk about censorship.


Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate by Juan Williams, from Crown Publishers.

Political, media, and religious leadership rightly protect the First Amendment rights of Muslims to practice their religion. But they fail to acknowledge and denounce radical Islamist elements preaching world domination through violence that are associated with terrorist groups in the Middle East, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Such (well-intentioned) censors seem to me to be also opening the door to more Muslim terrorism in U.S. schools, in the military, and in jails by deriding those asking questions about radical Islamists as anti-Muslim bigots.

If you admit you are suspicious of elements of Islam, you are called a bigot. So lots of people keep their suspicions to themselves. When law-enforcement agencies capture Muslims engaged in planning terror plots, as they have in New York, New Jersey, Miami, Dallas, and Washington, D.C., in the last year, the politically correct crowd reflexively ratchets up the message that not all Muslims are terrorists and calls for restraint in discussing the blatant links between extreme Muslims — Islamists — and terrorism. I call it censorship. This is a corrupt, self-defeating cycle. It limits the reasoned, rational assessments of genuine terror threats — an essential element of effective response.

The uncensored reality is that there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion. The most pressing threat to our nation comes from this religion’s determined extremist faction, the Islamists who see jihad as a holy mission to establish a one-world government, a caliphate, under Muslim law. Of course, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful people who are respectful of others, mean no harm, and are just trying to hold a job, pay the rent, and raise their children. However, if only one-tenth of 1 percent of Muslims are radicalized and intent on harming the United States and its allies in the name of Islam, that makes 1.5 million seeking to bring down democratic governments, ban religious diversity, and overturn Western civilization. That is an astoundingly large number, and by all indications the growth of Islam in the United States and the worldwide reach of the Internet are leading to increasing conflict between those bent on committing acts of terror and the rest of the world. To point this threat out is not bigotry. It is an act of self-preservation.

But the insidious hand of political correctness extends its corrupt fingers to shush people who are trying to introduce some straight talk into discussion of the Muslim terror threat. For example, when President Obama told Bob Woodward, my former Washington Post colleague, that the United States could absorb another terrorist attack, conservatives who normally rail against left-wing political correctness played their own game of avoiding hard truths. They hammered President Obama as a weak commander-in-chief who was effectively inviting another terrorist attack. But the president had done no such thing. He had simply told the truth: that he was doing everything he could to prevent another 9/11, but that even after 9/11, “the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it, and we are stronger.”

The president spoke the truth. He was not giving in on the fight against terrorists. He was expressing almost hubristic, pro-American sentiment in noting the strength and resilience of our people and our country. Hard-line conservatives, sensing political vulnerability, turned it into a statement of surrender by a weak-kneed liberal Democrat. To them, the Democrats have long been suspect on national security. But they turned the president’s words against him in an unfair way. We do a service when we shed light on a statement that exposes a hidden truth. But deliberately misconstruing comments and turning them into something else is a lie — it’s a form of censorship, whether it’s done by the Left or the Right.

— Juan Williams is author of Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate from which this is excerpted, © 2011 by Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.