Political Correctness

| Tue Nov. 10, 2009 2:22 PM EST

Is "political correctness" to blame for the Ft. Hood massacre?  Did the military fail to confont Nidal Malik Hasan's growing disillusionment with the war because it was afraid of appearing overly critical of Muslims?  Marc Lynch pushes back:

This framing of the issue is almost 100% wrong. There is a connection between what these critics are calling "political correctness" and national security, but it runs in the opposite direction. The real linkage is that there is a strong security imperative to prevent the consolidation of a narrative in which America is engaged in a clash of civilizations with Islam, and instead to nurture a narrative in which al-Qaeda and its affiliates represent a marginal fringe to be jointly combatted.

....The grand strategy of al-Qaeda and its affiliated ideologues is, and has always been, to generate a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West which does not currently exist....To make inroads with mainstream Muslim communities, they need to change the context in which they live — to render their status quo unacceptable and to make their narrative resonate.  And for that to happen, they need a lot of help — for the targeted governments to take inflammatory measures against their Muslim populations, for the non-Muslim citizens in the targeted countries to discriminate against them, and for the media to fan the flames of hatred and mistrust.

....A lot of people — some well-meaning, some clowns or worse — evidently want the American response to the Ft. Hood shootings to revive the post-9/11 "war of ideas" and "clash of civilizations" anti-Islamic discourse.  It's a jihad, they shout, demanding careful scrutiny of the loyalty of American Muslims.  That's what they seem to mean by the demand to throw away "political correctness" and confront the ideological menace.  The overall effect of their recommendations, however,  would be to revive the flagging al-Qaeda brand and to greatly strengthen the appeal of its narrative.  And that's exactly what we should not want.

The whole piece is worth a read.  The military almost certainly has some lessons to learn from this tragedy — as do the rest of us — but that plural is deliberate.  Lessons, not lesson.

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