Editor's note: Co-written by Oliver North and Tom Kilgannon.
Blacklist (n.): a list of persons who are disapproved of or are to be punished or boycotted.
The definition above, from an old Webster's dictionary, was common parlance in the late 1940s and early 1950s as the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee investigated subversive activity, Soviet espionage and pro-communist propaganda. The committee unearthed spies and traitors -- Alger Hiss among them. But when the HUAC turned its attention to Hollywood writers, directors and actors, civil libertarians cried foul. The American Civil Liberties Union and others insist those on the "Hollywood blacklist" were unfairly persecuted for exercising their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of assembly and speech.
Now there's a new-millennium blacklist for American patriots who fail today's political correctness test. Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, a highly decorated special operations soldier with 36 years of service in uniform, is the newest name on the roster. The silence from the "civil liberties lobby" is deafening.
It often is said that our soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines serve to "protect our freedoms" and "defend our liberties." All true. Now consider what took place this week at the United States Military Academy at West Point -- an institution responsible for training young men and women to protect America from those who mean us harm. West Point cadets take an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," and to "bear true faith and allegiance to the same." Many West Point graduates will deploy to fight radical Islamists who commit acts of terror against Americans and our allies.
Yet when the West Point National Prayer Breakfast convenes Feb. 8, the cadets will be deprived of hearing from a world-renowned expert on counterterrorism. Boykin was a founding member of the elite Delta Force. He commanded the Joint Special Operations Command and served as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. But this week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations put Boykin on the new blacklist. He won't be at West Point next week.
CAIR lobbied the academy's superintendent, Lt. Gen. David Huntoon, to rescind Boykin's invitation. Apparently, the self-esteem of Muslim cadets and Allah's adherents elsewhere would suffer lasting damage if Boykin -- who is unashamed of his Christian faith, an expert on radical Islam and one of the planet's foremost practitioners of unconventional warfare -- were to speak on those matters.
This isn't the first time Islamists and leftists have intimidated military leaders here at home and demanded the silencing of Christian voices. In 2010, the Pentagon issued -- and subsequently withdrew -- an invitation for Franklin Graham to speak at the Defense Department's National Day of Prayer. Earlier that year, Tony Perkins, a former Marine and head of the Family Research Council, was invited to speak at a prayer luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base. But when President Barack Obama subjected our military to open homosexuals, Perkins was deemed too controversial.
Officials at CAIR claim that their opposition to appearances by people like Boykin or Graham is well-intentioned and argue that remarks deemed critical of Islam can precipitate violence. They do have a point.
Last week, author Salman Rushdie withdrew from a "virtual" appearance at India's Jaipur Literature Festival because Muslim organizations threatened bloodshed. Since publishing "Satanic Verses" in 1988, Rushdie has received numerous death threats, including a fatwa from Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Since then, Rushdie rarely has appeared in public.
Dutch politician Geert Wilders lives under constant threats against his life because of his outspoken views on Islam and his cautions about "Islamification in the Netherlands."
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch political figure who grew up in Somalia, once practiced Islam before renouncing it. Now in the United States, she authored the screenplay for Theo van Gogh's film "Submission," a documentary on abuses women suffer in Islamic societies. The movie brought death threats against Ali. Van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam in 2004 by, in writer Theodore Dalrymple's words, "a young man of Moroccan origin bent on jihad."
The Bush and Obama administrations both have stressed that America is not at war with Islam. That's understandable. But it makes no sense to deny that radical Islamists are at war with us.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan didn't commit "workplace violence" at Fort Hood when he, according to authorities, killed 13 and wounded dozens of others in 2009. Hasan was tutored by radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki -- credited with "guiding" the attacker. Yet the official report on the murderous rampage ignores the connection and is silent about Hasan's alleged motivation.
This is political correctness run amok. That's why Obama bans the term "war on terror" in favor of "overseas contingency operations." It's why the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that returning U.S. veterans present a greater danger to America's security than Islamic terrorists. And that's why CAIR and the hard-core left in this country can put names such as Boykin, Graham and Perkins on their new blacklist.
Apparently, we can't expect the U.S. government and the ACLU to defend the First Amendment rights of men such as these from outfits such as CAIR. If that's the case, it's time for the American people to demand it -- before more patriots like Gen. Jerry Boykin get thrown under the Humvee.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.