Tuesday, May 15, 2007

See Something? Say Something

As the recent foiling of the Fort Dix six highlights, whistle blowers and good Samaritans are essential in fighting the war on terror. As the NY Post editorializes, however, there is a degree of self censorship that threatens to undermine the active participation of citizens in the effort to keep the country safe. As it points out, the clerk who played the key role in the stymieing of the plot asked a colleague "I don't know what to do...Should I call someone, or is that being racist?"

The reason for the clerk's reticence is, we believe, two fold. Initially it stems from the concerted campaign to prevent racial profiling of African Americans and Latinos by the police. As a result of this campaign there is a reluctance to accuse any minority for fear of being labeled...racist. So the completely different issues involving Islamic terrorists gets inappropriately conflated with standard American civil rights issues-at a cost to our security.

Secondly, there is the efforts being made by so-called Arab-American civil rights groups to do two things. First, is to cloak their issues in the language of the mainstream civil rights movement in order to avoid too stringent a scrutiny of some of the activities in their community. Second is the effort to downplay the extent to which the "War on Terror" is more accurately a war against an extreme version of Islam. These two approaches work together to forestall proper vigilance.

All of this is played out, of course, in the well-publicized "Flying Imams" case. The actions of the imams, both before and after they boarded the USAir flight, were nothing if not provocative. They were meant, in our view, to provoke the responses they did get from the passengers on the plane. The imams lawsuit, aimed as it is against the alleged bigotry of both the airline and its passengers, is designed to generate the fear, initially expressed by the Fort Dix whistle blower, that pointing a finger at the suspicious behavior of Muslims might be considered racist; and even worse, the exposure to the expense of a lawsuit.

The actions of the good Samaritan in New Jersey is turning the tide on all of this trepidation. As we have reported the City Council has introduced a resolution of support for Peter King's John Doe amendment, and Joe Lieberman and two of his Republican colleagues have introduced companion legislation in the Senate. The City Council resolution already has 17 co-sponsors to the Monseratte-led measure, and we're hopeful that the full body will join their colleagues in support of this commonsense effort.