- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 10, 2009

OPINION/ANALYSIS:

The general is eager to get the situation in hand, but he’s got his tactics backward. And not just the general. So have a lot of other people in the government. Judgment flees in the face of a challenge by goody-goody intentions.

Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, says he’s worried — “no, not worried, but I’m concerned” — about a backlash against Muslims by Americans who are worried, no, not worried, but wary, of prospective Islamic terrorists all around, including some embedded in the military.

The prospect of mistreatment of Muslims in the uniform is such a concern the general has told his officers “to be on the lookout for it.” The tragedy at Fort Hood was bad, he says, but “it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.” He told an interviewer for CNN, as if in a footnote, that he further wants the Army to investigate how Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the suspect in the Fort Hood massacre, got to be a senior officer when he was such a known collaborator in radical Islamic causes.

Diversity is good. Maybe not as good as the ability to shoot straight, though in the modern, politically correct Army, you never can tell. George Washington, Robert E. Lee, U.S. Grant, John J. Pershing, George S. Patton and even Dwight D. Eisenhower — pretty good soldiers all — never acted as if diversity is more important than the ability to kill bad guys and break things that ought to be broken. So far as we know, those worthies in the wars of yesteryear never tried to make allowances for troublemakers in uniform. A Nazi or a follower of Shinto in the ranks would have been booted out at once.

Janet Napolitano, the secretary of Homeland Security, was off in Abu Dhabi, assuring the Abudabbies that she’s working to prevent a wave of suspicion and sentiment against Muslims. She’s working with “groups” across the United States to deflect a backlash, assuming there is one, following the handiwork of Maj. Hasan, the Fort Hood shooting “suspect.” (When everyone thought he was dead, the major was the “shooter,” but when it turned out he was still alive, he became a “suspect,” proving that sometimes being dead is a good career move.)

President Obama, like George W. Bush after September 11, was eager to absolve Islam, even the radical version that is causing so much grief in the civilized world, of connivance in the massacre at Fort Hood. “We don’t know all the answers yet,” the president said in the wake of the shootings, “and I would caution against jumping to conclusions.”

The caution against blaming “Muslims” and “Islam” for the carnage is good advice, even if not particularly needed. Millions of Muslims are loyal Americans and are no doubt as horrified as Methodists and Mennonites by the killing ground of Fort Hood. A backlash is not very likely. Even in the wake of September 11, when Muslims in many places in the world rioted in celebration of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, there was no backlash in America beyond the occasional dark look in a supermarket checkout line, or a sidelong glance at a surly passenger in a crowded airplane. But these were personal suspicions, not acted on, and as long as suspects in terrorist acts are invariably named Mohammed or Saddam or Osama we must expect average, good-hearted Americans to notice what goes on before their eyes and ears.

What worries Americans is how political correctness trumps the judgment of so many of our leaders. ABC News reported Monday that U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Maj. Hasan was attempting to contact al Qaeda, for reasons unknown but presumably not about Osama bin Laden’s plans for Brotherhood Week. Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, requested a CIA briefing on what was known about Maj. Hasan, and was told no. Mr. Hoekstra on Saturday sent a “document-preservation request” to the directors of the Department of National Intelligence, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the CIA to prevent a rush to the shredders to destroy embarrassing evidence of malfeasance.

The intimidation of so much of the government becomes total, so great is the fear of being accused of hurting the feelings of evildoers. Winston Churchill got it right in the run-up to World War II, when good people couldn’t bear to look evil in the face. “The malice of the wicked,” he said, “is reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous.”

• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.