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.
If it weren't a laughable lie, Mueller should be fired for demanding that FBI agents chastely ignore religion and nationality when investigating terrorism.
But instead of calling for Mueller's head, Democrats on the committee demanded that Mueller issue yet more ritualistic professions of faith in liberalism's civic religion. Only a religious cult would require people to appear before committees and say things that are demonstrably false.
Mueller dutifully complied, repeatedly assuring the assembled clergy that "The bureau is against -- has been and will be against -- any form of profiling." He said the new guidelines do not address "members of a particular group and not members of a particular political persuasion or anything along those lines."
Galileo put up more of a fight.
In his inimitable Stalinist way, Sen. Russell Feingold demanded that no one at the FBI even consider whether racial profiling might have prevented 9/11. Liberals treat racial profiling like the Victorians treated sex. It is not a topic that may be discussed, except to recoil in horror at the practice.
Feingold said he was "very troubled" at seeing government officials "quoted in the press saying that they believe concerns of being accused of racial profiling led the FBI to not act on the Phoenix memo."
The Phoenix memo was the one noting that a lot of Middle Eastern men were enrolled in American flight schools. Inasmuch as all of the leaders of the terrorist attack were Arabs in American flight schools, it's not crazy to think that an aggressive investigation of Arabs in American flight schools might have thwarted the attack.
When Mueller came back with some flaccid response, saying he had heard an "indication" of "a possible concern" about racial profiling, Feingold imperiously informed the director: "I was hoping for a different answer." Not the truth -- just a different answer. The only thing he left out was "Comrade."
Muslim terrorists are trying to nuke Manhattan, and the Senate is conducting Soviet show trials on whether anyone at the FBI is wistfully daydreaming about racial profiling.
Relentlessly pursuing incipient thought crimes at the FBI, Feingold pronounced it "a distortion" to suggest that acting on the Phoenix memo would have constituted racial profiling. The memo, he said, "contained specific information about specific individuals."
The specific information was this: A lot of Middle Eastern men were attending American flight schools. Excising the portion of that statement that liberals refuse to consider -- Middle Eastern men -- the only "specific information" is: "People were attending flight schools."
These are the lunatics the Bush administration is hoping to propitiate by refusing to engage in racial profiling. If an attack comes, I assure you: No one will be praising Bush for abiding by the rules of the cult and carefully searching Al Gore.