But maybe that's not good manners. "Our long-term goal," said Homeland Security's Asa Hutchinson, "is to treat (all visitors) the same way, and not based on where you come from." This may sound polite -- an Equal Rights for Aliens Amendment in the making -- but it is wholly incompatible with national security.
During the trial of Fawaz Damra, an Ohio-based based imam charged with lying to immigration authorities about his terror-network connections, a federal judge told prosecutors not to mention "Osama bin Laden" or "Al Qaeda." Despite evidence linking both Damra and bin Laden to a Muslim-aid group in Brooklyn that the government says later evolved into a branch of Al Qaeda, mum's the legal word. Huh? According to U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin, "the risk of inflaming the jury is great." Prosecutors can't even call Damra, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center attack (and they can't mention that, either), a "radical Islamic militant." Clearly, the specter of saying the wrong thing looms larger than the importance of seeking the right verdict. Which begs the question: Is this a terrorism trial or a tea party?
Maybe it is this fear of the faux pas that prevented the media -- with the notable exception of FrontPageMag.com's Ben Johnson -- from pointing out that Mohammad Magid, the imam invited to Ronald Reagan's funeral at the National Cathedral, has "disturbing ties to suspected terrorists." Across the pond, a similar reticence characterized the BBC's reporting on Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al Sudais, the Saudi-appointed imam of Mecca's Grand Mosque who recently visited London to open a massive new Islamic center.
Describing the sheikh as "one of Islam's most renowned imams," the BBC failed to mention his well-documented record of poisonous invective toward Jews, Christians and Hindus.
External threats aside, Western civ appears to be threatened from within by a paralyzing attack of terminally good manners: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil (except Abu Ghraib). This may be one way to ride out the war on Islamic terrorism. It's no way to win it.