While most of America was sitting around in pajamas, opening presents and eating breakfast, 277 passengers on a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit from Amsterdam were in fear of their lives. In an attempted terrorist attack reminiscent of Richard Reid and his magical exploding loafers, an Islamic terrorist tried unsuccessfully to bring down the Airbus 330 by detonating an explosive device attached to his leg. While news accounts vary, the device likely failed due to the attentiveness and swift action from heroic passengers.
Thankfully, nobody but the wanna-be terrorist and a few other heroes were injured, and no one was hurt seriously. Even better are the lessons right there for us to learn from the attempted attack.
First, we should understand that no matter what overtures we make toward the Muslim world, no matter how many hours of sweeping rhetoric comes from our president’s mouth, no matter how swiftly or completely we shutter the terrorist detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, and no matter how many terrorist masterminds we bring into civil show trials in Manhattan, those who wake in the morning from dreams of our destruction will not stop until they blow themselves up and kill innocent Americans, or until they are killed where they stand by a well-placed bullet or bomb from a soldier fighting on the side of good.
Second, we cannot continue to fight a battle against radical Islam without dispensing with the trappings of political correctness and deciding actively to call evil by its name. Nowhere in any of the reports from the Detroit Free Press, ABC News, Bloomberg or CBS affiliate was it mentioned that the terrorist was a radical Muslim. Sure, they mentioned his name–Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab–and mentioned his national origin–Nigeria–and even mentioned that he admitted to ties with Al Qaeda, but nowhere in any of the articles I’ve seen do the words “Muslim” or “radical Muslim” appear.
The innuendo needs to stop. The overt refusal to confront reality and the endless efforts to beat around the proverbial bush must cease if we are to ever be as safe as possible from the threat of radical Islamic jihad. Of course, advocating full and responsible disclosure when it comes to bucking the trend of political correctness and calling a spade a spade does not equate to indicting all Muslims. After all, on that flight to Detroit from Amsterdam, there were several Muslim men, women and families, and only one attempted to blow the airliner out of the sky. However, a little equitability would go a long way toward increased awareness and security. If, after all, it had been a white Baptist man who tried to detonate some sort of device outside of an abortion clinic and not a radical Islamic terrorist trying to bring down an airplane, local and national news alike would lead with news of a “fundamentalist Christian” carrying out an act of “domestic terrorism” and in the process indicting each and every right-leaning American who cares about the sanctity of life.
Finally, that Abdul Mutallab worked his way through security in Amsterdam and Nigeria (where the airport exceeded standards in a TSA audit) with an explosive device of some sort strapped to his leg and was only subdued by fellow passengers should remind us that true strength and safety and security is derived from the individual and not from government. I can’t say for sure what airport security measures are in place in Amsterdam, but I do know from traveling throughout Europe that passengers cannot simply walk onto an airplane without being screened. And while screening systems and procedures put into place by government bureaucracies are hardly infallible, the greatest repository for vigilance and swift action lies in people. The campaign to arm pilots in cockpits, and the opposition to that campaign, is another example of a squandered opportunity for fomented security.
We should remember this, as our own federal government attempts to improve our health care system by implementing more bureaucracy. We should remember this, as heads of state throughout the world attempt to centralize more power in order to save the globe from the farcical crisis that is global warming. Government is never the answer. Never. Not for airline security. Not for health care. Not for energy policy. True power comes from people. 277 passengers were saved today by people.
A few years ago, I heard a comedian riffing on the Global War on Terror remark that George W. Bush was stupid for waging war against a noun. Part of him was right, in that we will never be truly free of the threat from radical Islamic jihad. But to be as safe and secure as possible, we must abandon the trappings of political correctness, be able to discern from good and evil, and give people the information and the means to be vigilant and defend themselves as necessary. In perhaps the greatest Christmas wish come true of all, nearly 300 innocent people will see their families again despite the best efforts of a radical Muslim terrorist. But let’s not forget the lessons which must be learned as well.