|LAPD Plan Unfair, But Necessary
by Doug McIntyre [radio
Jack Kennedy famously said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." It's hard to believe it took us less than 50 years to run that celebrated phrase into the ground. Modern America's mantra is more like, "Ask me to do anything, and I'll sue the country!"
The idea we might owe an obligation to America is as pass as virginity. Even the Greatest Generation crushes any attempt at Social Security reform, despite the fact they'd have to live to 135 before any reform would touch them.
If the World War II crowd is looking out for numero uno, why should we be surprised the Los Angeles Police Department's proposed - and quickly abandoned - "mapping" of L.A.'s Islamic community generated a tsunami of outrage?
Insert Gestapo metaphor here:
Bring on the self-flagellation over the internment of the Japanese!
Coming soon to a multiplex near you, Bill Bratton in "Rendition II!"
As the whitest of white men, it's easy for me to say the LAPD counterterrorism bureau's plan to create a "portrait" (the PC term for profile) of L.A.'s Islamic population was not a threat to civil liberties. I suppose when Norwegians start flying planes into buildings, I will be inconvenienced at airports despite my protestations I'm Irish, not an IKEA-American.
"Tell it to the judge, Thor. All you blond hair/blue eyes are the same."
As the Daily News reported, the Rev. Eric Lee, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, wanted to know why the LAPD wasn't mapping "skinheads, Nazis and corporate criminals." This is odd logic. Is the objection "mapping," or who gets mapped?
When the government collects data on lawful citizens, no matter how benign or beneficial the stated purpose, we should all prick up our ears. We have been lied to with such frequency, by so many layers of government, you'd have to have rose-colored glasses with the power of the Hubbell Space Telescope not to be a little skeptical.
LAPD Deputy Chief Mike Downing claimed we needed a greater understanding of the Islamic community, and he said the department wanted to partner up with Muslims to create a better understanding and help mainstream Muslims. What does this mean?
In non-PC terms, this: The LAPD knows from it's London counterparts that young, disenfranchised, lone nut Muslims, mostly men, both foreign born and domestic converts, are a rich vein of raw material from which terror cells mine future suicide bombers.
What the LAPD didn't want to say is: It wanted to find the "at risk" Muslims before they put all of us at risk.
Which means L.A.'s Muslim community was being asked to trust the LAPD and rat out that creepy guy who gives off a bad vibe. Or those creepy guys who don't mix with anyone else at the mosque.
This kind of talk makes civil libertarians cringe and with good reason. The left fears a new McCarthyism. The right remembers Joe Stalin's Soviet Union, where neighbors could drop a ruble on neighbors, and have them vanish to the Gulag.
These are not paranoid concerns. It's very tempting to use a national emergency to settle scores and grind axes. Even a well-intentioned honest mistake can ruin a reputation or worse. We are right to be ever vigilant.
What's not being discussed is our obligation to the country. Tragically, we are at war. We have been targeted for destruction by an enemy that uses Islam as its principal recruiting tool. We are at war with an enemy that uses the freedoms of association, movement and religion to plot and perpetrate unspeakable acts of murder.
L.A.'s Islamic community is estimated at 500,000. It is polyglot. Middle Eastern, sure. But also South Asian, Black Muslim and Baltic. The LAPD was right to ask for help from L.A.'s Islamic population.
Would this place an extra burden of citizenship on American Muslims? Yes. Is that fair? No. However, in historic terms, it's a tiny inconvenience in the interest of helping our country in a time of need.
I understand why Muslims felt outraged. Why should they be asked to sacrifice when we were told after 9-11 it was our patriotic duty to go shopping? General Sherman said, "War is hell." War is still hell - for the soldiers and their families. To the rest of America, war is a bore; as if listening to Bush and the Democrats regurgitate the same tired slogans qualifies us for a Purple Heart for boredom.
The LAPD is charged with keeping Los Angeles safe in an age when Los Angeles is a primary target for attack. This may require more from Muslims. These are the cards history has dealt us. Sometimes you don't get to pick your hand. CRO
first appeared at L.A. Daily News
2006 Doug McIntyre