Across the pond, the British Broadcasting Corporation is taking well-deserved lumps for whitewashing the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London. Editors have reportedly expunged the word "terrorist" from the BBC website and substituted the sanitized "bomber" to describe the killers.
Next: "Burglars" will be "takers." "Child molesters" will be "ticklers." "Rapists" will be "unplanned lovers."
High-minded BBC guidelines admonish employees against using words like "terrorist" that "carry emotional or value judgments." Yet, employing a reporter, Barbara Plett, who told viewers she bawled her eyes out when an ailing Yasser Arafat was whisked off to France in November 2004, is model objectivity.
But bashing the terror-coddling BBC is too easy. Let us turn to our own language corrupters.
Nearly four years after the 9/11 attacks, the White House and the press still use the empty phrase "War on Terror" to describe the global battle against radical Islamist throat-slitters, suicide bombers and hijackers who incinerate children on their way to Disneyland. And in the wake of the London terrorist attacks, we Americans continue to bow to an unwritten editorial policy of invoking sanitized phrases and bloodless bluster as a substitute for concrete action.
How many times have you heard some cable TV talking head or political hack urging us to be on "heightened alert" -- without having the courage to spell out exactly what that means?
How many times has this been followed by a furrowed-brow precaution from some civil rights lawyer or human rights activist urging us to avoid an "anti-Muslim backlash"?
I'd have an easier time cheering the "We will not yield" and "We are not afraid" sloganeering if just one of our tough talkers in Washington would get brutally specific about how they will show vigilance, courage, alertness and refusal to yield to radical Islamic terror. Allow me:
-- A true state of "heightened alert" would mean barring any new religious visas for Muslim clerics and ending all visa-free travel, which means scrapping the anachronistic and insecure Transit Without a Visa program and the dangerously lax Visa Waiver Program.
-- A true state of "heightened alert" would mean a targeted visa moratorium for terror-sponsoring and terror-friendly nations. The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 placed such a ban on temporary visitor visas for individuals from the seven official state sponsors of terrorism. The list should be expanded and revisited if and when intelligence points to new al Qaeda breeding grounds. And yes, that means tourists from Egypt, Yemen, Syria and the Philippines might be denied a Grand Canyon vacation the next five years. Tough noogies.
At this point, despite all the grand rhetoric from both political parties about increased information-sharing and cooperation, I have limited confidence that our consular offices abroad are capable of stopping the next Mohammed Atta or Hani Hanjour from getting a temporary visa. The fewer applications from danger spots they have to deal with, the better.
-- A true state of "heightened alert" would mean killing off the idiotic Diversity Visa Lottery Program once and for all and scouring the H1-B visa program for Islamist exploitation.
-- A true state of "heightened alert" would mean unapologetic government monitoring of Arab and Muslim foreign students on temporary visas, Muslim chaplains and soldiers serving in the military and in prisons, and Arab and Muslim pilots and flight students.
-- A true state of "heightened alert" would mean immediate deportation of illegal aliens from terror-sponsoring and terror-supporting nations, increased National Guard dispatches on both the northern and southern borders, aggressive police-federal cooperation to catch illegal border crossers and overstayers on the interior, and vigorous encouragement of volunteer border security efforts like the Minuteman Project.
It's precisely these kinds of national security profiling and targeted immigration enforcement measures that obstructionists characterize as an "anti-Muslim backlash," which is why no one will talk about them despite all the "heightened alert" posturing.
In London, "terrorists" are "bombers." In the U.S., citizen watchdogs are "vigilantes."
The Ministry of Truth would be pleased.