March 29, 2006
Muslims and PCBy J.R. Dunn
The major problem facing American Muslims today is not active prejudice or government harassment; it's political correctness.
PC has been the governing force in relations with the American Muslim umma since 9/11, if not before. It is the sole reason why dubious and litigious groups like The Council on American—Islamic Relations CAIR),�have become the chief representatives of the Muslim community, why 'racial profiling', the sole rational method of preventing terrorist infiltration, has been effectively banned (Arabs and Persians being Caucasian, it would have to be 'ethnic profiling', but... ooh never mind), why any critical or even debatable reference to Muslims or Islam in general has been carefully excised from public discourse — at least as far as the�antique media�are concerned.
So it's no surprise PC played a major role in the three latest collisions between Muslims and American society at large. Umar Abdul—Jalil�is the prison chaplain who made a series of inflammatory remarks to a Muslim Students Convention (including anti—Semitic comments concerning 'Zionists in the media'), only to be reinstated by NYC Mayor Harold
Mohammed Reza Taheri—azar�is the Iranian immigrant who ran down nine people with an SUV at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in early March. Asked whether Taheri—azar had committed a terrorist act, university chancellor James Moeser ducked the question, saying that such judgements were not his responsibility. Taheri—azar was also allowed open contact with the media on several occasions by local law enforcement, which he used to explain his actions as the result of his devotion to Islam.
Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, a former ambassador—at—large for Afghanistan's Taliban, notorious for justifying government atrocities and attacking Christians, is completing his first year as a student at Yale. The university has been perfectly clear as to why he was selected — as opposed to, say, a deserving former victim of the Taliban. It's for reasons of 'diversity.'
The essence of political correctness is privileged treatment provided solely due to an individual or group's ethnic background. That this is the case in all three of these situations goes without question — public officials mouthing anti—Semitic statements usually aren't offered a second chance; it's very seldom that inmates in custody are allowed to address theological lectures to the media; and no Serbian genocide—justifier was greeted at Yale after the fall of Milosevic. (Though John Fund�points out that anti—Semitic propagandist Paul DeMan was more than welcome.)
One factor concerning PC that's usually overlooked is that it actually has little to do with the race or ethnicity that it purports to protect. Ever since its rise in the1980s (and even in its embryonic state in previous decades) political correctness has been all about the whites who administer it, the bureaucratic and academic elites who select the privileged groups and set down the rules that the rest of us are supposed to obey. It's their agenda that PC actually serves — the supposed victim groups come in a poor second, if at all.
This can clearly be seen in the way that blacks fared under the PC regime. Back in the 1960s, when the practices that were later christened 'political correctness' were first taking form, the blacks consecrated as leaders by the media and politicians (particularly after the murder of Dr. King) weren't the serious men of the 40s and 50s, the heroic epoch of the civil rights movement, but thugs and hustlers on the order of Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver. Black cultural contributions hailed by white media weren't for the most part the rich tradition created by blues, jazz, and ragtime, or the Harlem Renaissance, but street—corner ghetto culture.
Moves such as these almost seem designed to derail the civil rights program, and in fact the movement collapsed into ineffectuality at roughly the same time, where it abides today under such paragons as Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson.
The irony is that American blacks, being Americans above all else, and sharing the qualities of Americans, worked their way out of their dilemma anyway. Today, the U.S. possesses the largest black middle class in the world, and racial relations that could not be more distant from the terrifying days of the late 60s. Some scars remain — the thug mentality, the gangsta rap world, that small percentage of slum dwellers who evidently cannot be reached by any effort. But American blacks in general have become the envy of the world — and PC, in whatever stage of development, had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Now culturally embedded as the sole method of dealing with 'vulnerable minorities,' PC is operating in much the same way with regard to Muslims. And that represents a serious danger. American blacks, no matter how tense the situation, were our neighbors, and we fundamentally understood each other. The wild men screaming for cities to burn were one thing — but our neighbors were something else altogether. That's what brought us all through the very dangerous years of the late 60s in one piece.
But that's not necessarily true of American Muslims. For one thing, there are not many of them (the 2% claim is an obvious exaggeration). Few Americans have interacted with them. They have little history with us, and are all too easy to view as strangers and interlopers, untrustworthy and alien.
However sincere Mayor Bloomberg and the administrations and faculty at Yale and Chapel Hill may be in their wish to 'help' the Muslim minority, they are in fact doing the exact opposite by antagonizing the public at large, rubbing injured feelings raw, and turning their clients into targets. PC, in and of itself, has never protected anybody. It is not powerful enough a doctrine to defend anyone at all if a sudden wave of xenophobia arises.
The reaction to the Dubai Ports deal clearly reveals that such feelings have been stirred. How deeply, it's difficult to say. Ethnic disorders are similar to tsunami — there's no buildup, no real warning, there's simply a roar and the thing is upon you.
The Dubai uproar is too entwined with cheap domestic politics to serve as any kind of a bellwether. But some of the rhetoric accompanying it has gone far over the line. It's become too easy in recent weeks to speak of 'moo—slimes' and 'ragheads,' to claim that Muslims are a fundamentally different type of being, that there's no such thing as a Muslim moderate, that people like Abdul—Jalil and Taheri—azar aren't exceptions, but pretty much the rule. And this is to be found not only on the wilder reaches of the Net, but among respectable individuals, people who should know better, people whom, I think, will look back with some sense of shame a year from now.
We must never forget that PC is not an invention of the Muslim minority, any more than it was of American blacks. Political correctness is and has always been a tool of the Leftist elite. If anyone is to be called to account for its abuse, it should be them — the politicians, the academics, the bureaucrats, and the media types whose power and position is bolstered and secured by misuse of the ethnic card.
Among those who has not been offered the protection of the PC umbrella is a man known oly as the Trainer. A U.S. military veteran and a devout Muslim, the Trainer was approached by three Jihadis in Toledo, Ohio, demanding that he use his military expertise to assist them in carrying out terrorist acts. The Trainer strung them along and contacted the FBI. All three were indicted last month.
And there are others. Wafa Sultan, the Los Angeles psychologist who has challenged the imams face to face. Canadian gadfly Irshad Manji,�
The slanders of types like Al Gore aside, the American record concerning its Muslim minority since 9/11 has been outstanding. Few other nations could have endured such a blow and not struck back at those perceived as possible domestic enemies. (The sole, sad exception was a case of mistaken identity in which an Arizona backwoodsman murdered a Sikh shopkeeper.) We have matured since WW II and the disgrace of the Nisei relocation. We are in some ways a better people than we were.
That may well have surprised our enemies — who can say that Osama bin Laden wasn't counting on a domestic anti—Muslim backlash to turn the Islamic world further against the United States? A schism between American Muslims and the rest of the citizenry would be an answered prayer for Al—Queda. That's something worth keeping in mind.
J.R. Dunn is a frequent contributor.