The Department of Homeland Security (and, by extension, the Bush administration) is on a jihad against jihad — the word, that is. Its mission is to purge such terms as jihadism, Islamo-fascism, and mujahideen from our public lexicon. Is this a serious strategy or an episode in politically correct indoctrination? That question is being banged around in several venues, not least National Review Online's "Corner."
Last Friday, Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies contended that the DHS gambit is reminiscent of an effort by his nemesis, Linda Chavez, who chairs the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), to douse what she took to be inflammatory expressions of anti-immigrant sentiment. Mark was not merely straining to find an angle in a story only tangentially related to immigration; he noted that the DHS effort is being spearheaded by Dan Sutherland, a former employee of Linda's who now heads DHS's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Krikorian's argument drew sharp rebukes from CEO's president Roger Clegg as well as NR's own John J. Miller (a CEO co-founder and formerly its vice president). They rose to Sutherland's defense, essentially countering that Mark was engaged in a baseless guilt-by-association tactic, that association with Linda is nothing to be guilty about in any event, and that — as John put it, based on discussions he's had with Sutherland — DHS is implementing a strategy intended to peel our potential Muslim allies away from al-Qaeda, "not an exercise in politically correct nonsense." (To be clear, John took pains to say he was not assessing the soundness of the DHS strategy, just that he accepts Sutherland's explanation of the agency's thinking.)
Like JJM and Roger, I am fond of Linda (though I tend to disagree with her on immigration issues). Unlike John and Roger, I don't know Dan Sutherland, though the fact that they think well of him surely weighs in his favor. That said, I didn't find Mark's points to be frivolous, much less offensive. I leave to him to defend the parallel he bases on Linda's arguments about immigration rhetoric. (He undertakes to do that, here.) I'm not familiar enough with what Linda has said to make an informed judgment, though I do know from my own experience that lessons from mentors tend to get applied in other contexts. What's more, the Krikorian post did not rely solely on the Sutherland/Chavez tie. Mark recounted that Sutherland has been a point person for DHS's Muslim outreach initiatives, and is described by a top official from one activist group as "a wonderful breath of fresh air from Homeland Security."