In the third presidential debate, George Bush responded to a question about racial profiling by spontaneously denouncing the profiling of Arabs at airports: "Arab Americans are racially profiled ... people are stopped, and we've got to do something about that."
Admittedly, this was before Sept. 11. If Arabs were being stopped at airports before Sept. 11 -- and that's a big if -- that was probably wrong. There had been only one terrorist attack here in America by Arabs -- the bomb at the World Trade Center in 1993. (This is excluding Sirhan Sirhan, the first Muslim to bring the classic religion-of-peace protest to American shores, when, in support of the Palestinians, he assassinated Robert Kennedy.)
But now it's after Sept. 11, we're at war, and Bush is still vexed about profiling Arabs.
Last week, Bush's Department of Transportation required airport security to search former Vice President Al Gore. There's a lot not to like about Al Gore, but he's not a terrorist. Gore said he was glad he was searched. Why? So that a potential terrorist could be spared the trouble?
Searching Al Gore is a purely religious act. It is the purposeless, fetishistic performance of rituals in accordance with the civic religion of liberalism.
It's not just Bush's Department of Transportation swearing fealty to the left's civic religion. A few weeks ago, FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee that "immediately after Sept. 11" when the FBI was trying to stop "a second wave of terrorists out there," FBI policy was this: "We were not looking for individuals of any particular religion or from any particular country."
Evidently, the only people the Bush administration thinks it appropriate to search are angry men with smoke pouring out of their trousers.
Fortunately, Fitzpatrick and O'Malley out on the street appear to have had a different idea about whom to roust after Sept. 11. If not, then valiant and hardworking FBI agents are to be commended for their rapid surveillance of 280 million Americans -- cheerleaders, dentists, nursing home residents, Amish, performance artists, professional baseball players and so on -- before settling on about a thousand Muslim men to detain.