In a world so steeped in postmodern confusion that a U. S. President must resort to a spin on the definition of the word “is”, it is not surprising that we have difficulty defining our enemies. Kathleen Parker has illustrated this confusion well in a recent essay in townhall.com in which she advises “you can’t cure a disease without proper diagnosis, and you can’t win a war without naming the enemy”. Further to the point, a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention was roundly criticized for his characterization of Islam as a warrior religion that breeds terrorism. And, of course, we have the endless debate over “profiling” as a means of identifying possible enemies. In a great essay, Walter Williams points out the idiocy of the FAA’s air travel security procedures, which “assign an equal probability that anyone who boards a plane is a potential hijacker”. He recommends a multiple-choice test covering every significant terrorist attack against Americans over the past thirty years. (I will e-mail the complete test upon request.) In every case, the perpetrators have been Muslim male extremists between 17 and 40 years of age. Duh? Is there a distinct profile here? The ACLU and FAA, take note!
As one Supreme Court justice (I’ve forgotten which) has said, “the U. S. Constitution is not a suicide pact”. We are at war, and our defense must be preventive and, where necessary, pre-emptive. The editors of National Review have offered that the worst effect of creating the new Department of Homeland Security would be to create an atmosphere of activity without facing the difficult choices: profiling, arming airline pilots, pre-emptive strikes on the enemy abroad, and changing regimes in places like Saudi Arabia. But mission clarity begins with truth in labeling, and there are two parts to this in my mind. One is the question of what The Weekly Standard calls the “law-abiding terrorist”, the true enemy whose acts we have traditionally treated as a law enforcement problem. The other is the cultural issue raised so eloquently by Roger Scruton: can we live with the Muslim next door, and can he live with us? or, in other words, can we assimilate with a culture and creed that has had no Reformation and has no concept of the secular nature of government we inherited from Christianity and Roman law?
These are not easy questions for Americans to deal with, particularly in the procedural republic we have become. Even to pose them is to risk being denounced as xenophobic, racist, or (the worst postmodern sin) intolerant. Hollywood itself is guilty of ducking the issue as illustrated by the altering of Tom Clancy’s novel in the screenplay for The Sum of All Fears to avoid Muslim stereotypes. But deal with them we must, and soon. What do you think? I would appreciate your thoughts.