John Leo

The idea that the United States is somehow not entitled to anger, judgment or retaliation enters the mainstream in odd ways. Look at the pastoral letter on 9/11 put out by the United Methodist Council of Bishops. The judgment that 9/11 was a "shattering evil" was cut from the final draft. "Violence in all its forms and expression is contrary to God's purpose for the world," the bishops concluded. This apparently means that both rapists and those who drive off rapists with baseball bats are acting in an un-Christian manner. Ditto for terrorists and those who try to stop them, according to the bishops. Nonjudgmentalism ends up putting perpetrators and their confronters on the same moral plane.

There is also a downside in the nation's overwhelmingly positive treatment of Muslim Americans. Perhaps out of the guilt over treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the United States and its media have framed attitudes toward our Muslim citizens almost wholly in terms of hypertolerance and bias, rarely in terms of what allegiance a minority owes the rest of the nation in time of peril. The press relentlessly churned out articles about the alleged backlash against Muslim Americans, and has continued that effort long after it was obvious no such backlash existed.

The Associated Press last week reported that violence against Muslim Americans seems to have slowed to a trickle. But it was never much of a trickle in the first place. The same is true of non-violent acts of bias. The New Jersey Law Journal calmly analyzed the evidence in June and concluded that anti-Muslim acts are notably rare and statistically insignificant. It quoted an anti-discrimination lawyer saying that in terms of anti-Muslim bias, "basically we're not seeing anything."

Our elite press is ever alert to sniff out bias, but issues of allegiance and obligation get much less play. Some American mosques and Muslim schools are indeed troublesome places. The first plot to topple the World Trade Center was hatched at a Jersey City mosque. Does the nation have a right to expect that Muslim Americans will report any such activity they happen to observe? Or that they will refrain from supporting foundations that subsidize terrorism?

One rare exception to the media's tilt came when Marc Fisher of The Washington Post reported that America means little to some Muslim students. "Being an American means nothing to me," an eighth-grader at the Muslim Community School in Potomac, Md., told him. "I'm not even proud of telling my cousins in Pakistan that I'm American."

We need a serious discussion about loyalty and assimilation. What we are likely to get, though, is yet another massive cloud of hands-off nonjudgmentalism.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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