LEAVE IT TO Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and a rather left-leaning one at that, to utter one of the truest remarks about 9/11 delivered to date.
On Sunday’ CNN Late Edition, Feinstein acknowledged what the conservatives in the Bush Administration have not that political correctness contributed greatly to the bureaucratic letdown leading up to last fall’s terrorist attacks. "I think the racial-profiling debate has created a kind of disservice, if you will, in the terrorism area," she noted, "particularly with respect to the FBI. I believe it has had a chilling impact."
The "whole debate of racial profiling," Feinstein explained, "has played a role in the reticence of the FBI … to really move ahead with Mr. Williams’ memo," the Phoenix document that warned about Middle Eastern men training at American flight schools.
True enough. It’s not hard to imagine the public outrage, perhaps coupled with ACLU lawsuits, that would have ensued if, last July, federal agents had raided select flight schools and singled out Arab students for interrogation. That, no doubt, had something to do with federal agents’ reluctance to follow their own leads.
Perhaps now that a Senate Democrat has done the nation a favor by stating the obvious about what happened before Sept. 11, the Bush Administration can follow suit, and admit that political correctness has compromised the nation’s war efforts in the nearly nine months that have followed.
The examples, from Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta’s continued ban on racial profiling in airport screening to the Administration’s refusal to arm airline pilots, abound. The latest outrage comes from the State Department, where, even as American soldiers battle Muslim fanatics brainwashed by imams in Middle Eastern mosques, officials have devised a plan to import imams from Middle Eastern mosques to come preach on American soil.
The Washington Post reports that Foggy Bottom will award multiple grants totaling roughly $500,000 to groups that establish programs which, in the department’s words, "enhance understanding about the place of Islam in American society." The clerics would come to the U.S. on the taxpayers’ dime and by way of American Muslim organizations, many of which have suspect ties to the Middle East.
In the process, of course, the U.S. might also end up subsidizing the airfare of more terrorists or radical imams who will use their pulpit in America the way they do back home, to recruit more "martyrs." Such are the risks foreign-policy bureaucrats are willing to take. "We’ve found in the past that this type of exchange can be very effective in breaking down stereotypes," Stephen Hart, deputy assistant secretary for professional exchanges in the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, gushed to the Post.
It would do Mr. Hart and the thousands of professional bureaucrats like him good to know that America is at war, and at the moment, "breaking down stereotypes" is far less important than breaking the enemy’s back. Amazingly, within the ranks of the very government apparatus that’s charged with conducting the nation’s foreign policy, the notion persists that somehow 9/11 and the broader struggle of which it’s part are little more than a big misunderstanding. All we need is to give peace chance, a few exchange programs, an exhibition soccer match or two, and some intercultural dialogue.
The reality is that in most Middle Eastern Arab countries, the intensity of anti-American hatred runs deep. A February CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that in Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Kuwait, sizable majorities refuse to admit that Arabs were responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, and believe that America’s war on terrorism is morally unjustified. A recent Hamilton College/Zogby survey reveals that only a third of Arabs living in the U.S. hold Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda responsible for the attacks, and barely a majority support U.S. intervention in Afghanistan.
Then there’s Saudi Arabia’s top imam, Sheik Abd-al-Rahman al-Sudays, who recently took to government airwaves to denounce Jews as "pigs and monkeys" whose "course is supported by the advocates of credit and worshippers of the Cross." At this point, reasonable people might conclude that bringing in Middle Eastern Muslim leaders, even if there are some sane ones to be found among them, is to invite excessive and needless risk. Let’s win the war; we’ll worry about taking on stereotypes later.
Yet the politically correct mindset that would inspire State Department bureaucrats to concoct their visiting-imam program continues to prevail throughout the federal government, and its very existence hampers the country’s ability to win the war. Over the last nine months, there have been repeated indications that the federal bureaucracy is staffed with an unacceptable number of its enemies’ unwitting accomplices passive FBI agents, colorblind airport security screeners, obtuse State Department personnel, and the like.
They aren’t traitors, but their naiveté and gullibility have the same effect.