Fort Hood, Texas, and Yale University in New Haven are separated by over a thousand miles, but recent events have linked the military base and the university, which is home to the Yale University Press.
Everyone is aware of the horrendous events in October, when Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan slaughtered 13 people and injured 29 others. As it turns out, Hasan was a Muslim of the radical, jihadist persuasion, and it was fairly obvious to anyone who cared to look. There were plenty of tipoffs. His business cards carried the initials for "Soldier of Allah." At a professional conference earlier this year he gave, not a medical speech, but a doctrinally-based harangue against U.S. policy which caused listeners to look askance at each other. He had been in cyber contact with a radical Islamic cleric.
As they say, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Yet no one along the way was prepared to raise alarms about him. The fear of being tagged as anti-Islamic put the kibosh on any impulse to identify him as a potential source of trouble. Political correctness and multiculturalism, in other words, stifled common sense.
Which brings us to the Yale University Press. Early this year, it contracted to publish a book called "The Cartoons That Shook The World" by Jytte Klausen, a Danish-born scholar at Brandeis. The book was a scholarly examination of the furor surrounding the 2005 publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons satirical of Mohammed. You may remember that that incident led to a spate of bloody worldwide protests by outraged Muslims, protests less spontaneous than organized by Islamic radical leaders.
But on the way to publication, a funny thing happened, Yale Press informed the author that the book had been vetted by a panel of "experts" – experts whose names Yale would not disclose – whose decision was that the cartoons in question, as well as other art works chosen by the author, would not be included in the book due to fear of possible reaction in the Islamic world.
Despite widespread objections in the academic community, the book went to press minus the key illustrations. This was like publishing a scholarly work on the Mona Lisa without including a picture of it.
This decision, remember, was not made under any actual threat of protest, but was an act of preemptive self-censorship on the part of Yale University Press, and was driven by the same factor that caused Major Hasan's suspicious tendencies to be ignored.
Fear of being labeled as "anti-Islamic." Fear of imagined reaction from Islamic groups. Fear of being perceived as politically incorrect. Fear of not being sufficiently multicultural.
It's the same fear, for instance, that underlies the policy that, despite the fact that 19 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were young Arab males, airport security personnel are disallowed from focusing on individuals with a terrorist profile but must pat down grandmothers and young children.
In the last forty years or so in this country we seem to have discovered, as George Will once said, "a constitutional right against having one's feelings hurt." In addition, we have lost our devotion to the liberal principles of Western civilization, replacing it with the relativist philosophy of multiculturalism, in which all cultures are morally interchangeable. Under multiculturalism a culture which treats women as chattel, inculcates virulent anti-Semitism, and chops off the hands of criminals, is viewed as no different than Western culture, with its centuries long advancement of toleration, liberty, and human rights.
These two developments have provided an ideal environment for radical Islam to grow and fester in the United States, without the fear of being identified and apprehended by the forces of civil order. In this regard, it is worth noting that the nations of Europe are far less squeamish in their domestic intelligence work with Islamic terrorism.
In the case of "The Cartoons That Shook The World," Yale took a fireaxe to the concept of free academic inquiry and press freedom that are so vital to what we know as western culture. The fact that they did so voluntarily and on their own volition is what makes the incident so disturbing.
But no lives were lost in the Yale incident. The Fort Hood massacre, however, shows that, in an age when insidious Islamic radicalism is an ever present threat, political correctness can be deadly.
Weymouth resident Bob Ruplenas is a musician and retired systems analyst