Reuel Marc Gerecht in a must-read column explains:
A concern for not giving offense to Muslims would never prevent the French internal-security service, the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST), which deploys a large number of Muslim officers, from aggressively trying to pre-empt terrorism. As Maj. Hasan’s case shows, this is not true in the United States. The American military and especially the Federal Bureau of Investigation were in great part inattentive because they were too sensitive.
Moreover, President Barack Obama’s determined effort not to mention Islam in terrorist discussions—which means that we must not suggest that Maj. Hasan’s murderous actions flowed from his faith—will weaken American counterterrorism. Worse, the president’s position is an enormous wasted opportunity to advance an all-critical Muslim debate about the nature and legitimacy of jihad.
The disinclination to recognize the role that jihadism plays in the motives and actions of terrorists like Hasan leads us to avoid looking in the right places for signs of danger. Surveillance in a mosque? CAIR will (and has) raised a stink. Fire or discipline a Muslim for running a slide show on jihadism? Good luck finding a supervisor willing to take that one on. We avert our eyes, look for alternative explanations, and do little to change the way we assess threats and what constitutes a red flag (a chummy e-mail relationship with a radical imam, for example).
Gerecht is right that part of the reluctance to identify Hasan as a Muslim terrorist stems from the Obama team’s damage-control mentality. (“The Obama administration obviously doesn’t want to get tagged with an Islamist terrorist strike in the U.S.—the first since 9/11. The Muslim-sensitive 9/11 Commission Report, which unambiguously named the enemy as ‘Islamist terrorism,’ now seems distinctly passé.”) But it is also at odds with Obama’s international initiative to ingratiate himself with the “Muslim World” and suggest that much of the world’s ills stem from American insensitivity and missteps.
Imagine, Gerecht posits, if Obama were to challenge his listeners with some hard questions rather than merely feed Muslims lines so they can continue “blaming non-Muslims for their crippling problems”:
He could ask, as some Muslims have, why is it that Islam has produced so many jihadists? Why is it that Maj. Hasan’s rampage has produced so little questioning among Muslim clerics about why a man, one in a long line of Muslim militants, so easily takes God’s name to slaughter his fellow citizens?
Well we can dream, can’t we? The 11/5 terror attack should be a wake-up call. That it hasn’t been (so far) suggests just how deeply the Obami are invested in denying the essence of the threat we face.