Despite the obvious nature of last week’s terror attacks in Paris, it took quite some time before the media even felt comfortable calling the attackers terrorists. And if things keep going in the direction they’ve been heading, the term will likely disappear from U.S. reporting as well. The word terrorist will be politically incorrect. We’ll call domestic attackers Disgruntled Americans. Or perhaps just Vexed.
Can extreme political correctness reach that level of absurdity? A better question might be, hasn’t that happened already?
People are frightened now. That’s a healthy reaction to violence and malevolence and murder. People want to know that we are doing everything we can to stem the tide of global terrorism, which is not only a problem in the Middle East, not only a problem in Europe, but has already been brought to our shores in incidents that were isolated but equally deadly.
While September 11 may seem like ancient history to some, the specter of the catastrophic bombing of the Boston Marathon is still recent enough to remind us that those who would kill us are more than prepared to do so. We need not look to recent events in Paris to understand that this threat is an epidemic of global—and national—consequence.
Unfortunately, it will eventually reach a point where law-abiding citizens will be forced to understand that being politically correct endangers people’s lives.
Sadder still, the people who employ terror already know this.
It’s not as if we don’t know who the terrorists are, what they want to do, or how they plan to do it. They use every available stage to boast of their macro plan in public messages that they want us to see and hear, going so far as to share images of beheadings on social media. Political correctness is not a malady they share with us.
The “extremists” who attacked and murdered innocent people last week in France were known to the intelligence agencies. The problem is not our intelligence, but our unintelligence in employing our intelligence.
Members of terrorist cells are well aware that they can use their smartphones to stay in touch with each other without fear of their phones falling into the hands of agencies like the NSA. In the name of political correctness, phone encryption from companies like Apple and Google now makes it next to impossible to use a captured device to gather information that could save countless lives.
This is what happens when extreme political correctness becomes more important than people.
I say it’s time to reevaluate our priorities before the next tragedy—or series of tragedies—unfolds. I believe it’s important to give law enforcement every possible power to protect our lives. I, for one, am more than willing to sacrifice a measure of my privacy for a greater measure of safety.
Civil liberties are important. But empowering our authorities, our intelligence agencies and law enforcement to do their jobs in the interest of the greater good is at least a modicum more civil than an extreme political correctness that continues to fuel a growing death toll. Perhaps terrorist profiling isn’t such a bad idea after all.
Will it take another extraordinary diabolical catastrophe like September 11—or even a series of such events like we’re now witnessing in France—before Americans cry, “Enough!” and begin to demand the inevitable strengthening of law enforcement rights? I hope not.
In the meantime, we’ll always have Paris.
Assemblymember Dov Hikind represents the 48th A.D.