Political correctness is always petty, often infuriating, and sometimes does no permanent harm. But occasionally it's a threat to the nation's security. When a paperclip general at the Pentagon surrenders to the enemy at the first sound of the popguns, the harm can be permanent.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stood up to the enemy in Iraq, where he made an enviable combat record. But at the Pentagon, he appears to have fallen, not on his sword, but on a paperclip, attached to a point of religious doctrine.
When, 18 months ago, apologists for Islamic radicals complained that an instructor at the National Defense University, the military war college, was guilty of the sin of showing insufficient deference to radical Islam, the general first humiliated him, then cashiered him, to appease Muslim critics, some of them radical and no friends of the United States. Now the instructor has been rejected for battalion command and his promising Army career is effectively over.
Army Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley (a good Irish Catholic name), decorated for valor in Iraq, was an instruction leader at the Joint Forces Staff College in Washington, lecturing on the dangers of radical Islam, when he invited an authority on Islamic extremists to talk to his students about how the extremists operate. You might think that "knowing the enemy" is a good thing in senior Army officers. One passage in the materials used by a guest lecturer, former FBI agent John Guandolo, particularly enraged the critics:
"If Islam is so violent, why are there so many peaceful Muslims? This is similar to asking why there are so many Christians who are arrogant, angry and vindictive, if Christian doctrine requires humility, tolerance and forgiveness." There were no protests from Christians, or Christian organizations. But one participant in the course complained to the Pentagon, and the witch hunt, led by the thoroughly frightened Gen. Dempsey, began.
Paperclip generals, more politician than warrior, naturally take their cues from the White House, and it's reasonable to assume that the pressure from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was the prevailing pressure, intense and effective. President Obama bows low in the presence of Muslims, as we all know, and ordered effective cleansing of all references to Islamic terrorists.
John Brennan, the hero of Benghazi and the new director of the CIA, insists there is no such thing as an "Islamic extremist." The al Qaeda terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center had nothing to do with Islam, they were just terrorists trying to make a dishonest living. The Muslim major who shouted the Islamic battle cry, "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great!") as he killed 13 and wounded 30 at Fort Hood, Texas, was guilty only of "workplace violence," not "terrorism." If he's convicted of murder by court martial, he can apply for workmen's compensation (and call John Brennan and Gen. Dempsey as supporting witnesses). Paperclip generals have sharp antennae and know who punches their tickets.
They know how to cover the part of their anatomy that most needs covering, too. Gen. Dempsey landed hard on Col. Dooley at a press conference, speaking as an academic and maybe even a theologian: "It's totally objectionable," he said of the colonel's course work. "It was just totally objectionable, against our values, and it wasn't academically sound. This wasn't about, we're pushing back on liberal thought. This was just objectionable, academically irresponsible."
Such an emotional response was not quite what's expected of a four-star general. A week later another general, only a two-star, was dispatched to blame the colonel for "institutional failure." Gen. Dempsey's spokesman, a Marine colonel, insisted his boss' public denunciation of the "individual" had not poisoned the investigation. "[Col.] Dooley's name is never even mentioned," he told The Washington Times.
We can't expect paperclip generals to show the fighting spirit of Stonewall Jackson or U.S. Grant, Blackjack Pershing or George S. Patton. They were men of their times and we're stuck with our own times, and the men who populate the times. But the craven deference to the Islamic lobby, which often makes no distinctions between the millions of good Muslims and the bad Muslims, is a recipe for catastrophe.
The West in general and America in particular has shown remarkable patience and forbearance to the Muslims in our midst, according them, as we should, respect and a welcome into what we once called "the melting pot." But somebody ought to instruct the paperclip generals that there's an enemy out there in the dark, and it's important to know who he is.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.
© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.