5555546It's one of those terms that might seem to belong to an earlier era: political correctness. But in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings, critics are seeing exactly that in both the treatment of alleged gunman Nidal Malik Hasan by the military before the shootings and in the comments of politicians and members of the media afterward.
"Who'd think the U.S. Army could be seized with a sudden case of political correctness?" columnist Margaret Carlson wrote Thursday, dubbing the army "oversensitive."
"If they hadn't been so cautious, authorities could have pieced together the links between Hasan and radical Islam and possibly prevented Fort Hood," she argued. Authorities, Carlson notes, knew Hassan had visited radical jihadist Web sites; some officials at Walter Reed, where he had worked, thought he might have been psychotic. "It wouldn't have been an act of bigotry, just an act of sanity."
"Jihadist rhetoric espoused by Hasan was categorically dismissed out of submissiveness to the concepts of tolerance and diversity," complained Major Shawn Keller. "The Army as an institution has been neutered by decades of political correctness and the leaders in Hasan's chain-of-command failed to act accordingly out of fear of being labeled anti-Muslim and receiving a negative evaluation report."
Added columnist John Kinsellagh: "The incontrovertible facts surrounding the incident indicate conclusively that the mayhem was a direct result of political correctness run amok, the consequences of which, for this case, proved deadly."
Sen. John McCain meanwhile, called the shooting "an act of terror" in a speech at the University of Louisville yesterday.
"This may sound a little harsh, but I think we ought to make sure that political correctness never impedes national security," the Arizona Republican said. "There were signs this individual had some very disturbing behavior patterns that should have been alerted to the proper authorities."
Former Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino wrote in Politico that "we need to be proactive to prevent attacks using intelligence gathering. That might mean there are gray lines of political correctness that might make any of us uncomfortable. But look at the price that's paid."
Some have focused on the political correctness they've seen in the Obama administration's response to the shootings and the media coverage of the incident. President Obama called on Americans not to jump to conclusions before all the facts are known and has declined to call the attacks an act of terrorism.
"Has political correctness become so rampant that we need to refer to the Fort Hood shootings as a 'tragedy'?" complained John Lazo Jr. in a letter to the Plain Dealer. "The only tragedy is that we cannot or will not call it what it is: terrorism." (For the record, according to this Slate piece, "There's no precise, internationally accepted definition of terrorism or who qualifies as a terrorist.")
At Fox News, there are complaints that media outlets have not sufficiently identified Hasan as Muslim or discussed a link to terrorism; Wall Street Journal columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz complained that Hasan's "terrorist motive is obvious to everyone but the press and the Army brass."
"What is hard to ignore, now, is the growing derangement on all matters involving terrorism and Muslim sensitivities," she wrote. "Its chief symptoms: a palpitating fear of discomfiting facts and a willingness to discard those facts and embrace the richest possible variety of ludicrous theories as to the motives behind an act of Islamic terrorism."
One letter writer, Joan Butler, took that argument a step further, writing that "The real killers at Fort Hood in Texas are political correctness, affirmative action and the cult of diversity."
"If the gunman was of any other religion other than Muslim, he would not have been in a position to do what he did," wrote Butler, who complained that the media had sanitized Hasan's motive because he "came from a 'protected group' in our society."