Across the pond, the British Broadcasting Corporation is taking well-deserved lumps for whitewashing the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London. Editors have reportedly expunged the word "terrorist" from the BBC website and substituted the sanitized "bomber" to describe the killers.
Next: "Burglars" will be "takers." "Child molesters" will be "ticklers." "Rapists" will be "unplanned lovers."
High-minded BBC guidelines admonish employees against using words like "terrorist" that "carry emotional or value judgments." Yet, employing a reporter, Barbara Plett, who told viewers she bawled her eyes out when an ailing Yasser Arafat was whisked off to France in November 2004, is model objectivity.
But bashing the terror-coddling BBC is too easy. Let us turn to our own language corrupters.
Nearly four years after the 9/11 attacks, the White House and the press still use the empty phrase "War on Terror" to describe the global battle against radical Islamist throat-slitters, suicide bombers and hijackers who incinerate children on their way to Disneyland. And in the wake of the London terrorist attacks, we Americans continue to bow to an unwritten editorial policy of invoking sanitized phrases and bloodless bluster as a substitute for concrete action.
How many times have you heard some cable TV talking head or political hack urging us to be on "heightened alert" — without having the courage to spell out exactly what that means?
How many times has this been followed by a furrowed-brow precaution from some civil rights lawyer or human rights activist urging us to avoid an "anti-Muslim backlash"?
I’d have an easier time cheering the "We will not yield" and "We are not afraid" sloganeering if just one of our tough talkers in Washington would get brutally specific about how they will show vigilance, courage, alertness and refusal to yield to radical Islamic terror. Allow me:
At this point, despite all the grand rhetoric from both political parties about increased information-sharing and cooperation, I have limited confidence that our consular offices abroad are capable of stopping the next Mohammed Atta or Hani Hanjour from getting a temporary visa. The fewer applications from danger spots they have to deal with, the better.
It’s precisely these kinds of national security profiling and targeted immigration enforcement measures that obstructionists characterize as an "anti-Muslim backlash," which is why no one will talk about them despite all the "heightened alert" posturing.
In London, "terrorists" are "bombers." In the U.S., citizen watchdogs are "vigilantes."
The Ministry of Truth would be pleased.