Guarding against terrorists

It's said that the roundup and internment of Japanese-Americans who lived on the West Coast during WWII was one of the great injustices of the last century. There wasn't a single instance of one of them cooperating with Japan. And there were many instances of Japanese-Americans who lived in Hawaii (but anomalously, were not rounded up) fighting heroically for the US in Europe during that war.

So, yes, it was a great injustice.

In 1978, while living in California, I knew a Japanese-American woman whose parents had been interned at Tule Lake and had been forced to sell their large farm in what later became Brentwood for pennies on the dollar. (Had they been able to hang on to it, that family would obviously have ended up extraordinarily wealthy.)

But, speaking as a half-Japanese, I understand the reasoning behind rounding up the Nisei. You never have to look for for examples of people sticking up for their own ethnic group. It is, after all, what evolution has programmed us to do. And had the authorities merely watched the Nisei more closely, rather than rounding them up, they would have been justified.

Turn the clock forward 67 years. We have now been at war with various Muslims in the Middle East and Afghanistan for over a decade. And every single domestic terrorist incident that has either taken place or been foiled in that time -- including the plot for which four men were arrested a few days ago -- has been committed by a Muslim.

No one is suggesting that all Muslims be rounded up. But it would be incredibly stupid not to be a little more suspicious of Muslims than others, and not to infiltrate mosques which are known to be hotbeds of Islamic radicalism.

But the pendulum has swung the other way. Any excess attention paid to Muslims is regarded by some as insulting and discriminatory.

It's why Major Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, was allowed to get that far without the authorities clamping down on him despite the evidence of emails between him and Anwar al-Awlaki, the terrorist leader in Yemen. After all, to have been suspicious of him would shown "prejudice" against his Muslim faith.

There are fourteen Ft. Hood families who bitterly regret the Army's reticence. But they don't have a voice on the New York Times editorial pages.

There have been plenty of times that I've flown in the past and the security people have waved me by while paying more attention to some little old white lady from Eau Claire or some place like that. Take a look at that little photo on the right: I have a swarthy, vaguely ethnic look to me. I could easily be a terrorist. (In fact, while flying, I was more terror-ized than terror-ist, but I do look the part.) I always wanted to scream out: search me, not her, you idiots! I certainly would have felt much safer had they looked more suspiciously at me than at the little old white ladies.

But political correctness always seemed to prevail.

And political correctness, as always, connotes a certain willful blindness.