If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.

 

An Obvious but Muzzled Truth: Islamist Terrorism

A Commentary by Michael Barone

Monday, May 17, 2010

If you want to watch someone squirm, take a look at the two-minute videotape of Attorney General Eric Holder dodging Republican Rep. Lamar Smith's question of whether "radical Islam" motivated the Times Square bomber.

Holder, who last year called America "a nation of cowards" for refusing to talk frankly about race, plainly didn't want to say what is plain to everyone else, that Faisal Shahzad, back from five months in Waziristan, launched his terror attack because of his Islamist beliefs.

Holder is not the only one who wants to shield us from this obvious truth. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, questioned about the bomber's motives, said he might have been acting out of opposition to the health care bill. Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein said he might have become unhinged by the foreclosure of his Connecticut home.

Similar dignitaries have advanced similar theories. The Christmas underwear bomber, Barack Obama initially said, was an otherwise unspecified "isolated extremist." Fort Hood killer Nidal Hasan, we were told by journalists, may have been a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder -- although he never saw combat. Back in the George W. Bush years, we were told that the gunman who started shooting at the El Al counter at LAX had just chosen his target at random, and The New York Times found nothing significant when the Mumbai killers targeted a Jewish community center.

Why the reluctance to state the obvious truth, that we are under attack from terrorists motivated by a radical form of Islam?

My theory is that these well-intentioned folk see the American people as a Howling Mob. They think that if Americans find out that Islamists are attacking us, they will go out and slaughter innocent Muslims. They think that Americans are incapable of understanding the simple truth that while most terrorists are Islamists, the large majority of Muslims are not terrorists.

Of course, the evidence is that Americans are quite capable of holding these two ideas in their heads. Even after Sept. 11, there were only a miniscule number of attacks on Muslims, and many more Americans went over to their Muslim neighbors and offered to help if they had any trouble. They didn't even need to hear the almost instant assurances from Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush that all Muslims were not terrorists to bake a cake and bring it over.

The Howling Mob theory explains a lot of otherwise puzzling things. It helps to explain why Janet Napolitano's Homeland Security Department, tasked with finding possible terrorists, set about tracking disgruntled military veterans and gun owners. Just the kind of people who turn into a Howling Mob!

It helps to explain journalists' desperate search for racist epithets at Tea Party gatherings -- and their lack of interest in the actual violence that has been common at rallies against the Arizona immigration law and antiwar marches. It helps to explain the Justice Department's decision to drop the case against the New Black Panthers who were violently intimidating voters in Philadelphia on Election Day.

It helps to explain why Solicitor General Elena Kagan was willing to work in the Clinton White House after Bill Clinton signed the law banning open gays in the military -- a law Kagan has said she detests. Hey, he was just trying to propitiate the Howling Mob.

It should go without saying that it's ridiculous to believe, as many liberals do, that just about everyone west of Manhattan and east of Hollywood likes to go around wearing white sheets. On a novel issue like gays in the military, many Americans have been moving away from Clinton's 1990s position and toward Kagan's, even while they move away from her views on other issues like abortion.

As it became obvious that the Democrats' health care bills and the Obama big government programs were opposed by most Americans, some liberals resorted to a variant of the Howling Mob theory: Americans were against these programs because they didn't like having a black president. This, despite the fact that Obama was elected by the largest percentage margin in the last 20 years.

When you see a smart man like Eric Holder saying stupid things, you know something else is going on. You're seeing a high official who regards most of us as cowards, who believes the truth could make us a Howling Mob. Does Barack Obama feel the same way?

Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner.

COPYRIGHT 2010 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

See Other Political Commentaries

S ee Other Commentaries by Michael Barone

V iews expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $3.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.