Thomas Sowell
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This past week has told us more than we wanted to know about ourselves and about our enemies.

There was far more controversy over remarks made by the Pope than over the violence unleashed by Muslims against people who had nothing to do with what the Pope said.

That our enemies do not understand the significance of free speech in a free society, where things that offend us can be denounced without indiscriminate violence, is bad enough. But that we ourselves seem headed further down the slippery slope of self-censorship is chilling.

Tolerance has been one of the virtues of western civilization. But virtues can be carried to extremes that turn them into vices. Toleration of intolerance is a particularly dangerous vice to which western nations are succumbing, both within their own countries and internationally.

Double standards are being wrapped in the mantle of morality. The drive to extend Geneva convention protection to terrorists who are not covered under the Geneva convention is one of a number of dangerous self-indulgences by people who seem to think that being morally one-up is the ultimate and survival is secondary.

Senator Lindsey Graham's comment that we are going to win in our struggle with terrorists "because we are better" was all too typical of this mindset.

It would be hard to know which would be worse -- if he said it as just some offhand political rhetoric or whether he is really fatuous enough to believe it and irresponsible enough to gamble American lives rather than extract murderous secrets from captured cutthroats.

There is already evidence from Guantanamo that the prisoners there are abusing the guards far worse than any guards have abused these prisoners. Yet our media have no interest in that and have been willing to believe every allegation by these professional terrorists, including the physical absurdity of trying to flush the Koran -- or any other book -- down a toilet.

Unfortunately, these are not just isolated lapses in judgment. It is largely the same people who have for years been more protective of criminals than of their victims who are now more protective of captured terrorists than of those who are their targets.

When such attitudes became ascendant in our courts during the 1960s, the declining trend in crime rates suddenly reversed and skyrocketed, as liberal judges created new "rights" for criminals out of thin air and called it constitutional law.

But this goes far beyond judges and far beyond our own times. The political left has been weak on protecting society from criminals for more than two centuries.

No one should be surprised that this same attitude has led to great preoccupation with trying to get captured terrorists treated more nicely.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate