Commendable Restraint or Willful Blindness?

May 5, 2010

Commendable restraint or willful blindness to the obvious?
Should we refrain from implicating Islam among the suspect's motives?

Faisal Shahzad, an immigrant from Pakistan is the major suspect in the failed bomb attempt in Times Square.The main stream media [MSM] were puzzled by his motives. This attitude is in keeping with the Obama administration's determination to eliminate certain words and phrases from American policy documents and statements concerning Islam, so that analysts, experts and advisors cannot use expressions such as "radical Islam," "Islamic extremists," "Islamists," and "Islamic terrorists."  While it is true that such a policy of avoiding terms such as "Islamic terrorism" began under Bush, and in Britain under Tony Blair, they were confined to public statements. Now Obama's policy applies to internal government documents as well, which can only have disastrous consequences for our understanding of individual acts such as those of Faisal Shahzad, and political groups and events in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South and South East Asia. As Barry Rubin said, "Suppose I'm an intelligence analyst in the State Department, Defense Department, armed forces, or CIA, and I'm writing about one of these groups or this ideology. How can one possibly analyze the power and appeal of this ideology, the way that ideas set its strategy and tactics, why it is such a huge menace if any reference to the Islamic religion and its texts or doctrines isn't permitted?"
Before any of us had any idea as to the identity of the perpetrator The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss ruled out a priori that the act could be of a jihadi from the Pakistan-based Taliban, "it seems far more likely to me [he] was either a lone nut job or a member of some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-government far right." Yes, perhaps a follower of Sarah Palin!

Even though we now have far more information about the suspect, the MSM refused to speculate that Islam may have had something to do with it:
CBS News: "It isn't clear if more suspects are at large OR what the motive could be."
Associated Press headline: "NY car bomb suspect cooperates, but motive mystery." (May 5, 2010)
Associated Press Story: "Federal officials aren't talking about a motive in the arrest of a naturalized U.S. citizen charged with attempting to set off a bomb in New York's Times Square." (May 5, 2010)
USA Today headline: "Motive of NYC car bomb suspect remains a mystery." (May 5, 2010)
The Guardian headline: "Times Square bomb: Pakistanis puzzled by bomber's motives." (May 5, 2010)

Is this refusal to implicate Islam commendable restraint, or willful blindness to the obvious?