When the Times Square story first broke, there was a part of me that said, “Man, I hope it’s not some white militia nutjob.” When I saw the news this morning that it was a Pakistani, the same small part of me was relieved. I don’t want to speak for many conservatives on this, but I know I’m speaking for more than just myself.
And I will simply assert that I believe lots of liberals had something very close to the opposite series of reactions (here’s one small example of what I’m talking about). If this had been some Tim McVeigh type, Frank Rich would know exactly what he was going to write for his Sunday column, and he would be excited about writing it. I don’t want to say he’d be happy about it (and he certainly wouldn’t have been happy about the murder victims if the bomb had gone off). But he would certainly be smug and righteous and full of a certain emotion that looks a lot like the glee you feel when you get to say “I told you so.”
Instead, that state of mind no doubt describes quite a few conservatives this morning.
Now, which side is “worse” in their schadenfreude or I-told-you-so’s doesn’t really interest me right now. But even if both sides were equally guilty of the tendency, it hardly means that both sides have morally equivalent positions.
A lot of liberals seem very keen to minimize or dismiss the reality of Islamic terrorism while working devilishly hard to create a false reality that the real threat is from American citizens American “rightwingers.” [See update II below. — JG]
And I’m not just talking about bloggers and pundits. This has been the project of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano for quite some time. As has been discussed around here at great length, she has repeatedly discounted or downgraded Islamic terrorist attacks as everything from mere “man-caused disasters” to “isolated incidents,” even as her agency has eagerly hyped the threat from American veterans and militias. Obama himself has certainly aided in these attempts to spin away Islamic terrorism as a law-enforcement issue, while he and his subalterns – including Bill Clinton — play this subtle game of imputing that conservatives are, at minimum, providing rhetorical aid and comfort to domestic terrorists.
Are some conservatives sometimes too eager to look for an Islamic terrorist angle? Sure. Does this cause some on the right to paint with too broad a brush about Islam or to leap to conclusions about future threats? Arguably so. But that tendency is backed up by some massive empirical justification: hundreds of terrorist attacks aimed at America and her allies all over the world by known terrorist organizations that loudly proclaim their views and intentions to wage jihad on America.
Now consider Michael Bloomberg. He glibly announces on the CBS evening news that, if forced to bet on who had left the bomb in Time Square, he’d bet on the terrorist being “homegrown, or maybe a mentally deranged person, or somebody with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health-care bill or something.” Homegrown, mentally deranged, doesn’t like the health-care bill: These are the three best guesses that the mayor who works a few minutes from ground zero could come up with. To which I say, stick it up your memory hole, Mayor.
This liberal tendency is not just offensive because it assumes that American citizens – including vets – are somehow an underappreciated terrorist threat, though that is plenty awful in and of itself.
It is also disgustingly undemocratic. Why? Because so many of these people, starting with Obama himself but including former presidents Clinton and Carter, the Democratic Party, the editorial pages of the New York Times, and much of the rest of the liberal-dominated media, use this talk about the “rhetorical climate” on the right as a means to bully it into silence. That’s what Obama did in his recent commencement address, and that’s what hundreds of commentators and bloggers have been doing in response to the tea parties.
They’re saying, “You people need to shut up because you’re aiding and abetting terrorists.” They’re also trying to say to independents, “If you think the right-wingers are persuasive, you need to think again. They’re all just mouthpieces and stalking horses for the homegrown terrorists and the mentally deranged.”
And, last, it’s also dangerous. Not because it will breed frustration and anger among Americans who feel unfairly demonized for simply voicing their objections (though if liberals really believe the nonsense they spew about conservatives, they might ponder that). No, it’s dangerous because it causes the country to look for terrorists where they aren’t while telling them not to look for them where they are.
Update: Well, I dashed this off on the plane, and I see Mark Steyn covered some of the same territory already.
Update II: Good point, from a reader:
Interesting ideas, and I know you write “on the fly”- but note from your posting,
“A lot of liberals seem very keen to minimize or dismiss the reality of Islamic terrorism while working devilishly hard to create a false reality that the real threat is from American citizens.”
The man who was arrested last night WAS an American citizen. Your story contains the implicit assumption that “American citizens” are people like us, while the Islamic terrorists are the “others”. Something you need to be aware of. I hope you take this as an observation, more then a criticism.