The hazardous effects of our silence on ourselves.
I got an instant chill when I looked at him. I got this grip in my stomach and then, of course, I gave myself a political correct slap…I thought, “My God, Michael, these are just a couple of Arab businessmen.”
That was ticket agent Michael Tuohey’s recollection of his encounter with Mohammed Atta at the check-in desk of U.S. Airways in Portland on the morning of September 11, 2001. For Tuohey, the fear of being politically incorrect was greater than his instinctive fear. Better to take the remote risk of a terrorist act than the more immediate risk of being thought a bigot.
It might be expected that 9/11 would have put an end to political correctness—at least in regard to Islam. But that was not the case. Instead, the forces of political correctness grew stronger and threw a protective ring around Islam, making it practically immune to criticism. You could, of course, criticize terrorist groups, suicide bombers and lone-wolf jihadists—as long as you added the caveat that their actions had nothing to do with Islam. But suggest that terrorists were inspired by Islam itself and you were sure to find yourself in hot water and maybe in a courtroom.
9/11 wasn’t the last time that a little less political correctness might have saved the day. Take the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood. Major Nidal Hasan’s jihadist sympathies were well known to fellow officers for years before he launched his murderous attack. Yet they failed to report him for fear of being branded as bigots. Even after the massacre, the Army, the media, and the administration worked vigorously to cover up Hasan’s devotion to Islam. His attack, we were told, was simply a case of workplace violence.
Meanwhile, over in England, another cover-up of Muslim misbehavior was already a decade old and wouldn’t be exposed for another five years. In the course of a fifteen-year period, more than 1,400 girls in the city of Rotherham were groomed, raped, and traded by Pakistani gangs. Police, city authorities, and child protection agencies knew about the rapes but said nothing out of fear that they would be subject to accusations of “racism” and “Islamophobia’ were they to implicate Pakistanis.
PC cover-ups have become the norm in Europe. A 2014 cover-up of sexual assaults by Afghan youth at a Stockholm youth festival wasn’t revealed until two years later. Police explained that they withheld the information for fear of inflaming anger at refugees and also because the information would “play into the hands of the Sweden Democrats” (an anti-immigration party). According to one report, Swedish police concealed over 5,000 incidents involving refugees during 2015.
The media have also been reluctant to report on the extent of immigrant crime. The mass sexual assaults outside the Cologne train station on New Year’s Eve were ignored by the media for several days after the crimes were committed. It was only after an avalanche of social media protests that the press belatedly and reluctantly covered the story.
The media blackout on politically incorrect news has made it extremely difficult for Europeans to understand the mess that they are in. Brits who relied on the mainstream media for information knew little, if anything, about the rape epidemic that swept over many parts of Britain. And Swedes who depended for their news on Sweden’s Orwellian press remained blissfully ignorant of the fact that immigration had turned their socialist utopia into the rape capital of the Northern Hemisphere.
Were it not for social media, Europeans would have little grasp of the extent of Muslim immigration and the resultant high crime rate. Which is why the European thought police are now cracking down on the incorrect use of the Internet. In Scotland, a man was recently arrested for negative Facebook comments about the arrival of refugees on his small island. He was concerned that the Isle of Bute, with a population of about 6,500, was expected to take in 1,000 Syrian migrants. Given the math, the man’s concerns seem justified. The situation calls to mind a 1950s film titled Tight Little Island which, coincidentally, also concerns a tiny island off the coast of Scotland. The problem facing the fictional island community is somewhat different from that facing the folks in Bute: they’ve run out of whisky. But, come to think of it, whisky might soon be in short supply if the refugees manage to impose their abstemious ways on the locals. In any event, the constabulary was not amused by the Facebook post. The district police inspector warned, “I hope that the arrest of this individual sends a clear message that Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of activity which would incite hatred and provoke offensive comments on social media.”
Over in Denmark, the officials were sending equally clear messages. A district court fined a man for making comments on his Facebook page that were “insulting and demeaning towards adherents of Islam.” What the man wrote is as follows:
The ideology of Islam is as loathsome, disgusting, oppressive, and misanthropic as Nazism. The massive immigration of Islamists into Denmark is the most devastating thing to happen to Danish society in recent history.
Harsh words? Yes. But not any harsher that what was being said about Catholicism on a daily basis in Western newspapers when the priest sex abuse scandal broke in 2002. Yet no one suggested that critics of Catholicism should be arrested or fined. The difference is that no one feared that Catholics would riot in response. By contrast, the last time Muslims took offense in Denmark, the result was worldwide rioting and 200 deaths. So in Denmark, the sensitivities of Muslims constitute a preemptive veto on free speech.
The same holds true in the land of liberté, egalité, fraternité. Take the case of Fr. Guy Pages, a French priest. French police arrested Fr. Pages and shut down his website Islam-et-verite (Islam and Truth) for having posted photos of those slaughtered at the Bataclan theater during the November Paris massacre. It is probable that the non-photo content of his website was also a factor in his arrest. During a recent interview with the website Polina Christiana (Christian Poland), Fr. Pages equated Islam with the Antichrist:
Non-Muslims should therefore understand that if they reject Christ, they will have the Antichrist. The development of Islam in the West is a tough punishment for apostasy.
Are Europeans being punished by God for their apostasy? Is Islam the Antichrist? Whatever the answers to those questions, it would seem that it is not up to French officials to decide. Yet French courts along with other European courts have in effect taken it upon themselves to defend Islam’s blasphemy laws—laws that are so loosely construed that any criticism of Islam can be considered criminal. Fr. Pages is not the first to run afoul of this mentality. Numerous prominent Europeans including Geert Wilders, Oriana Fallaci, and Lars Hedegaard have been put on trial for what in an earlier age would have been called heresy. They thought they were offering valid, evidence-based criticisms of Islam, but from the Islamic viewpoint they were guilty of blasphemy. And many of the European courts concurred.
Wilders, Fallaci, and Hedegaard all pointed to obvious threats that accompanied the spread of Islam. But the rule in Europe is, “if you can’t say anything nice about Islam, don’t say anything at all.” All three spent years defending themselves in various European courts, and Fallaci eventually fled to America to avoid prosecution. The lesson for the encouragement of others? Don’t rock the multicultural boat, or you’ll be next in the dock.
The rationale for defending politically correct fictions goes something like this: If you point out the cruel and totalitarian aspects of Islam, it will only further excite the already excitable Muslims and will also offend moderate Muslims to such an extent that they will have no other choice than to turn violent. The argument is, of course, a tacit admission that Islam is not a peaceful religion. If its members are so easily provoked to violence, it strongly suggests that violence is Islam’s natural inclination. It that’s so, then no amount of non-offensive appeasement is going to stop the violence.
There’s not much evidence that maintaining a polite silence about Islam prevents the spread of radicalism. As the noose of political correctness draws ever tighter around the throats of ordinary citizens, the ranks of the radicals only increase. If anything, the West’s self-imposed silence on the radical nature of Islam has ensured the spread of radicalism.
Recently, the New York Police Department was ordered by a U.S. court to take down from its website a report called “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat.” According to experts, the report “has been critical to the department’s understanding of radical Islam and its efforts to police the threat.” Muslim advocacy groups had already successfully pressed for a purge of intelligence training materials used by U.S. intelligence agencies, and now the NYPD will also be required to wear blinders when investigating Islamic terrorism. This is good news if your main concern is to avoid offending “the Muslim community.” Just keep in mind that “the Muslim community” is code language for CAIR, ISNA, MAS, and other Muslim Brotherhood-linked pressure groups that use political correctness as a tool for discouraging a close look at Islamist activities. If, on the other hand, your main worry is another terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11, the news is not so good.
Instead of worrying about what effects our criticisms of Islam might have on Muslims, it might be better to worry about the effects of our silence on ourselves. The rules of political correctness were supposed to make the world a less threatening place, but they have only increased the danger. When it becomes costly to discuss Islamist activities, people learn to hold their tongues. Politically correct strictures on speech have created a climate of fear which inhibits free speech and puts us all in danger. We are told that we mustn’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater, but if the theater really is on fire, then there is a clear duty to speak out.
Fourteen years after ticket agent Michael Tuohey gave himself a “political correct slap,” a resident of San Bernardino, a neighbor of Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, became suspicious about activities at their house. The neighbor thought about notifying the police, but then thought better of it, as she did not wish to “racially profile.”
Except for political correctness, the San Bernardino massacre might have been prevented. It’s been a long time since 9/11, but the only lesson we seem to have learned in the meantime is that silence is golden.