John Leo
In the wake of the London bombings, New York City is now searching the bags of subway riders. As you might expect, this is provoking the usual cluster of perverse reactions. Someone on Air America, the liberal talk radio network, suggested that riders carry many bags to confuse and irritate the cops. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, normally a sane fellow, has ordered that the searches be entirely random, to avoid singling out any one ethnic or religious group. So if someone fits the suicide bomber profile—young Muslim male, short hair, recently shaved beard or mustache, smelling of flower water (a preparation for entering paradise)—the police must look away and search the nun or the Boy Scout behind him. What’s the point of stopping a terrorist if you have to trample political correctness to do it? Besides, the New York Civil Liberties Union opposes all bag searches. No surprise there. The national American Civil Liberties Union still opposes passenger screening at airports. In a speech at the Brookings Institution, historian Fred Siegel said that the Democrats, pegged as the party of criminals’ rights, are in danger of becoming the party of terrorists’ rights.

From the first moments after the attacks of 9/11, we had indicators that the left would not be able to take terrorism seriously. Instead of resolve, we got concern about emotional closure and “root causes,” warnings about the allegedly great danger of a backlash against Muslim Americans, arguments that violence directed at America is our own fault, and suggestions that we must not use force, because violence never solves anything. “We can’t bomb our way to justice,” said Ralph Nader.

The denial of the peril facing America remains a staple of the left. We still hear that the terrorism is a scattered and minor threat that should be dealt with as a criminal justice matter. In Britain last October, the BBC, a perennial leader in foolish leftism, delivered a three-part tv series arguing that terrorism is vastly exaggerated. Al Qaeda barely exists at all, the series argued, except as an idea that uses religious violence to achieve its ends. Besides, the series said, a dirty bomb would not kill many people and may not even kill anyone. This ho-hum approach isn’t rare. Though evidence shows that the terrorists are interested in acquiring nuclear weapons to use against our cities, a learned writer for the New York Review of Books insists that the real weapons of mass destruction are world poverty and environmental abuse. Of course, world poverty is rarely mentioned by terrorists, and those known to be involved have almost all been well fed and are well to do.


John Leo

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

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