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Nadal Hasan and the Vices and Virtues of Political Correctness.

By       Message Allan Goldstein     Permalink
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Believe too much in political incorrectness and you'll turn a hundred-thousand real enemies into a billion-three potential enemies. You'll insult the only people who can defeat the real enemy, others like them.

Whether that's African Americans turning against the gangbangers in their own neighborhoods, or Sunnis turning out the terrorists in theirs, all politically correct wars are civil wars.

It is no more helpful to hold up a terrorist by the hair and say, "look, we captured another Muslim," than it is to do the same to a ghetto thug and say "look, we captured another n****r." Both are bad strategy, insulting to exactly the wrong people, and both totally destroy the kind of willing cooperation you must have from the community if you're going to help the right side win its civil war.

We have every right and duty to protect ourselves when that war spills over to the homeland. That takes good, clear-eyed, police work, free from unjust profiling that turns citizens into suspects, and free of illusion that turns enemies into victims.

Political correctness can help. It lets us set the terms of debate when events are spiraling out of control, it starves those who feed on hate from a big second helping, on us, it denies terrorists the "judo" that is the real goal of their acts. Making us make more terrorists by making us overreact against whole races of people.

Terrorism is a provocation. Political correctness, properly used, can prevent us from being provoked into doing something predictably stupid.

But political correctness is a weapon that is sharp on both ends. Use it unwisely, and you can put an eye out, use it stupidly and you can put both eyes out. We do have enemies and we need to stop them before they kill again. In a free society of 300 million plus people, that's a daunting task. It takes two eyes, wide open and seeing clearly, to get it done.

The blind hatred of anti-political correctness won't do it. Neither will the blind obliviousness of political correctness. The first is a gun with no aim, the second is a shield of air.

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San Francisco based columnist, author, gym rat and novelist. My book, "The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie" is the best memoir ever written by a cat. Available on, or wherever fine literature is sold with no sales tax collected. For (more...)

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