"We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued, and they must be defeated."
That was Barack Obama, speaking at the 2004 Democratic National Convention as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. He was right. His straightforward wording goes right to the heart of the matter: We live in a dangerous world, and it’s foolhardy to act otherwise.
President Bush wasn’t exaggerating when he said we were fighting a “long war.” And it can’t be won unless we’re always on our guard.
Fast forward to the March 3 fatal shooting of two U.S. airmen at Frankfurt airport in Germany. Asked if it was a terrorist attack, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “Was the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords a terrorist attack? I mean, you have to look at the evidence and look at the motivation, and then you make a judgment.”
Let’s see. According to the German prosecutor, the 21-year-old shooter, Arid Uka from Kosovo, said he went to the airport to shoot soldiers “as revenge for the American mission in Afghanistan.” He walked up to a U.S. Air Force bus parked at the airport and asked if those aboard were bound for Afghanistan. Told they were, he immediately boarded the bus and went on a shooting spree, shouting “Allah Akbar!” (Arabic for “God is great!”).
Yes, Mr. Crowley. This one’s a real head-scratcher.
Please. Yes, one shouldn’t jump to any legal conclusions prematurely, and yes, anything’s possible. But when Crowley was asked if it was a terrorist attack, he could have said, “It certainly appears to be. We’re still gathering details.” Instead, he makes a gratuitous comparison to the Giffords shooting, which actuallydoes lack any evidence of being a terrorist attack, and always did. It’s one thing to be prudent. It’s quite another to make it sound as if terrorism is something found only in the eye of the beholder.
Unfortunately, Crowley isn’t the only public official who shrinks from delving into uncomfortable truths about the threat we face. Take the hysterical reaction to Rep. Peter King’s hearings into efforts to radicalize American Muslims. Two headlines from the opinion pages of the relatively sober Washington Post say it all: “Peter King’s Modern-Day Witch Hunt” and “King’s Red Scare.” A cartoon in USA Today shows Joseph McCarthy’s ghost supporting King. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) denounced the hearings as “a way to demonize and castigate a whole broad base of human beings.”
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