If you want to watch someone squirm, take a look at the two-minute videotape of Attorney General Eric Holder dodging Republican Rep. Lamar Smith's question of whether "radical Islam" motivated the Times Square bomber.
Holder, who last year called America "a nation of cowards" for refusing to talk frankly about race, plainly didn't want to say what is plain to everyone else, that Faisal Shahzad, back from five months in Waziristan, launched his terror attack because of his Islamist beliefs.
Holder is not the only one who wants to shield us from this obvious truth. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, questioned about the bomber's motives, said he might have been acting out of opposition to the health care bill. Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein said he might have become unhinged by the foreclosure of his Connecticut home.
Similar dignitaries have advanced similar theories. The Christmas underwear bomber, Barack Obama initially said, was an otherwise unspecified "isolated extremist." Fort Hood killer Nidal Hasan, we were told by journalists, may have been a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder -- although he never saw combat. Back in the George W. Bush years, we were told that the gunman who started shooting at the El Al counter at LAX had just chosen his target at random, and The New York Times found nothing significant when the Mumbai killers targeted a Jewish community center.
Why the reluctance to state the obvious truth, that we are under attack from terrorists motivated by a radical form of Islam?
My theory is that these well-intentioned folk see the American people as a Howling Mob. They think that if Americans find out that Islamists are attacking us, they will go out and slaughter innocent Muslims. They think that Americans are incapable of understanding the simple truth that while most terrorists are Islamists, the large majority of Muslims are not terrorists.
Of course, the evidence is that Americans are quite capable of holding these two ideas in their heads. Even after Sept. 11, there were only a miniscule number of attacks on Muslims, and many more Americans went over to their Muslim neighbors and offered to help if they had any trouble. They didn't even need to hear the almost instant assurances from Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush that all Muslims were not terrorists to bake a cake and bring it over.