While it cannot be proven, there is little reason to doubt that many on the left are disappointed that the Times Square bomber didn’t turn out to be the “white male” he was originally thought to be. This allegation may be wrong, but it is made on the basis of compelling evidence.
There is a perfectly clear pattern on the left — the normative Left, not just the “far” Left — that denies the obvious when it comes to Islamic terrorism. Take, for example, Maj. Nidal Hasan, who murdered 13 fellow soldiers and tried to murder the 32 others whom he wounded at Fort Hood, Texas.
For days after the murders, liberal-Left commentators and mainstream-media reports attributed Hasan’s mass murders to everything but his Islamic beliefs — even though it was known that he yelled out “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”) just as he began his shooting.
As Hardball’s Chris Matthews announced, “It’s unclear if religion was a factor in this shooting.” He then added, “He makes a phone call or whatever, according to Reuters right now. Apparently he tried to contact al-Qaeda. . . . That’s not a crime, to call up al-Qaeda, is it?”
The New York Times’s “Week in Review” article on the shootings was titled “When Soldiers Snap.” As I wrote at the time, “The gist of the article was that Maj. Hasan had snapped — even though he had never been in combat. He snapped in advance. Just two sentences in the article were devoted to the possibility that his motives were in any way relatable to his Muslim faith.”
NPR’s Tom Gjelten offered the novel explanation that Hasan, who had never been in combat, may have suffered from “pre-traumatic stress disorder.” Again, psychology, not religion.
On Fox News, Geraldo Rivera said, “I don’t know what motivates him. . . . He could have had a toothache and gone off because of that.”
This time, the same thing happened, with one exception: For two days, it was assumed a “white male” — shorthand for non-Muslim, non-minority American — tried to blow up passersby near Times Square in Manhattan.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said this to Katie Couric on CBS News on May 3: “If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that, somebody who’s homegrown, maybe a mentally deranged person or someone with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health-care bill or something. It could be anything.”
It’s okay for liberals to speculate that a terrorist might be a right-wing white American opposed to Obamacare (a.k.a. a tea partier). It is the rather more likely scenario of an Islamic terrorist that liberals will not consider, let alone publicly express.
Moreover, only an individual whose politics force him to deny the obvious would deny that people like Bloomberg hoped the culprit would not be a Muslim but rather a conservative, white American.
Even after the terrorist, Faisal Shahzad, was apprehended, and even after he confessed, the liberal-Left world almost never mentioned his religion, and many tried to blame his actions on factors unrelated to his religious beliefs. As with Nidal Hasan, the culprit in Shahzad’s case was the terrorist’s psychological state. This time it was the stress he experienced over his house going into foreclosure.
Thus the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote on May 4:
You of course don’t want to speculate on why someone “really” did something. The hearts of men are opaque, and motives are complex. But it’s a reminder that foreclosures generate an enormous amount of misery and anxiety and depression that can tip people into all sorts of dangerous behaviors . . .
Widely ridiculed — even in the comments section of the Washington Post – for what he had written, the next day Klein tried to do undo the damage to his credibility: “In case there’s actual confusion . . . I do not believe that foreclosure leads to terrorism.”
I think that most honest observers would argue that all the confusion was on Mr. Klein’s part, not his readers’. But, in any event, even in his explanatory column, he made no reference to Shahzad’s religious beliefs as the terrorist’s motivation.
Instead he re-emphasized that it was impossible to even speculate what Shahzad’s motive might be: “Speculating about why a terrorist commits a terrorist act is a mug’s game. . . . People who desire the murder of innocents qualify, I think, as pretty disturbed.”
Klein was not alone on the left in associating home foreclosure with Shahzad’s attemted mass murder. Annie Lowrey, an editor at Foreign Policy, wrote: “I think it’s a bit above my pay grade to speculate on the broader sociological meaning of this. But for what it is worth, the arrested subject of this past weekend’s Times Square bomb plot is a homeowner in the midst of foreclosure.”
And a long background piece on Shahzad by the Associated Press — the most widely reprinted news source in America — had the title, “Times Square bombing suspect’s life had unraveled.” Not one of the article’s 1,076 words mentioned Shahzad’s Islamist beliefs as even a contributory factor. It was all about his economic misfortune and his walking around depressed.
This is but one more example of how leftism permeates the upper echelons of American (and Western) society and has people mouthing sentiments that those not of the Left regard as morally absurd.
The best chance America has of retaining its greatness, let alone its exceptionalism, is to understand the Left. And the Left’s explanations for what makes a Faisal Shahzad or a Major Hasan seek to slaughter Americans are key to understanding the Left.
A defining characteristic of the Left is its inability to identify — and therefore confront — evil: from Jesse Jackson’s and Dennis Kucinich’s expressions of support for Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, to decades of leftists’ praising Fidel Castro, to the mainstream media’s denial of moral culpability for the arsonists, murderers, and rioters in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict (“Understanding the Rage” was the title of the Los Angeles Times’s daily special section devoted to the riots), to the universal liberal outrage at Pres. Ronald Reagan’s characterization of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire,” to the Left’s virtually unanimous hostility to Israel.
The Left’s inability to identify the religious beliefs of Islamic terrorists, its insistence on instead ascribing their murders to terrorists’ psychological tensions and economic problems, and its simultaneous certainty that conservative white Americans have only the most vile motives — these are all expressions of the Left’s failure to recognize and confront real evil.
Just remember this: If Faisal Shahzad had not been identified as the would-be bomber, the mainstream (i.e., liberal) news media and leading Democrats would have told us repeatedly that a white male — surely a conservative white male — was the Times Square terrorist, and that we should therefore be looking suspiciously at our fellow Americans on the right, especially those attending tea parties. For while liberals claim not to know the motives of Muslim terrorists, they are always certain of conservatives’ motives: racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia.
When, one day, the Left exits from history’s stage, its epitaph will read: “Those who do not understand evil will not understand good.”
– Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. He may be contacted through his website, dennisprager.com.