The Corner

Whitewashing Reality

Is there anything more important than the issue of terrorism? Domestic terrorism and foreign-based terrorism that aims to strike us internally? I well recall the 2006 Nickle Mines Amish School massacre of six children. And I recall Jay Nordlinger saying: “This is what we would have thought would have been one of the last safe places in America.” Who would have thought a health care center . . . run by the Army . . . in a Fort . . . in Texas, would not have been the last safe place in America, safe from terrorism, safe from our own U.S. military hosting an officer-terrorist. Of course, as we all know, it was not safe. On November 5th, 14 people were shot to death by a Radical Muslim in Army uniform. He had a laser sight on his gun.

Why has terrorism, how has terrorism, come to be such a rare and indeed controversial identifier here? Let’s look at what the American people think. 

Americans themselves apparently have mixed feelings over characterizing the rampage as terrorism. A recent Fox News poll found that 49 percent of those interviewed preferred to describe the incident as “a killing spree” and that 44 percent thought “act of terrorism” was more accurate.

The older the respondent, the more likely he was to call it terrorism. Forty-five percent believe the outburst involved the shooter mentally snapping, and 38 percent consider him a Muslim extremist protesting American foreign policies.

We have carved out for our culture and ourselves categories that are completely meaningless in and of themselves to whitewash the notions of reality before our eyes, realities such as good and evil. In the days following 9/11, many of us thought a lot was morally clarified; that for the first time in a generation, the true hand of evil and the true face of evil could be seen for what they were, without psycho-babble, without moral unseriousness, without politically correct norms, without the language of mush. And we, in fact, were there. It didn’t last. We have a Muslim terrorist, who called for jihad, who shouted “Alahu Akbar” as he was killing unarmed soldiers in a health center, who had cards made up that said “Solider of Allah,” who spoke of pouring boiling oil down the throats of infidels, who has regular correspondence with a radical imam who preached to 9/11 terrorists . . . and, and, and, and . . . we call it not terrorism but a “killing spree” as if that is what it was and not a terrorist trying to kill as many Americans as possible for political motives.

There is a rot that spreads outside of Washington into the larger culture. It begins with a confusion of terms, and by not calling things by their proper names, it begins with a disassembling of the moral categories. We don’t hear about terrorism or radical Islam so we are surprised to find it in our midst, and when we do, we don’t even recognize it. We have Army generals who elevate diversity over life, we have a president who speaks not of radical Islam or terrorism — though life is what we are fighting for and radical Islam and terrorism is what we are fighting against. And so we are reminded again of the notion that the chief purpose of education is to know when a man is talking rot. Because, if unchecked, the rot will settle, it will metastasize. Soon we no longer know anymore what we are fighting against . . . or more importantly, what we are to fight for.

 – William J. Bennett is host of Morning in America

Most Popular


Newsflash: McCabe Not Really Losing His Pension

The news that FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe was fired hours before qualifying for retirement with full benefits somehow grew over the weekend into a false impression that the career FBI agent was stripped of his pension altogether. [jwplayer GlHOavPa-wKJ9CRQU] Members of the media remarked that McCabe ... Read More
Economy & Business

CRISPR Will Make GMOs Ubiquitous

Labels multiply in supermarkets faster than salmonella at a convenience-store sushi bar. It’s important to keep up; we should all be well-informed eaters. But the onslaught of clean food, natural products, sustainably produced, gluten free, butterflies everywhere, and GMO-free sea salt are just too much. The ... Read More
White House

All Trump All the Time

It can be hard to keep one’s wits about oneself during the Age of Trump. Our president is like the ringmaster of a circus, and the American people are his enthralled spectators. It seems as if we cannot get enough. Love him or hate him, he remains at the center of our public consciousness. It is hard to ... Read More

The Pope Francis Challenge

An unforced error from a Vatican communications office the other day drove me a little something like crazy. The nature of the unforced error is that it is wholly unnecessary and typically distracting. And so it was. Days before, as the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s election as pope was approaching, a ... Read More
White House

Why Tillerson Had to Go

Of all the abrupt comings and goings in this administration, the dismissal of Rex Tillerson is undoubtedly the most important — maybe one of the most important firings since Harry Truman fired Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War. By dismissing MacArthur, Truman drew a firm line between military and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Samantha Power Regrets

‘I’ve had a lot of bad ideas in my life,” former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power tells Politico. “Though none as immortalized as that one.” Wow. It’s a major concession. And what might “that one” be? Not standing idly by in the White House while Iranians protested a fixed election in 2009, then ... Read More