HOW POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AIDED THE SAN BERNARDINO TERRORISTS
Shortly after Islamic extremist Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik committed their act of terror in San Bernardino on December 2, killing 14 and injuring 21 unarmed victims, Los Angeles TV station KTLA and the Daily Caller among other media outlets reported that a neighbor of the couple had observed suspicious activity at the Farook/Malik residence in Redlands, California for weeks preceding the terrorist event. Mindful of political correctness, fearing being labeled “anti-Muslim,” that neighbor never informed police of the activity. Consequently, we may ascribe part of the blame for the loss of 14 lives on the pervasive culture of political correctness that surrounds us. If we are to save the lives of innocents, we are going to have to report suspicious activity by Muslim extremists, and there will necessarily be moments of inconvenience experienced by those of the Muslim faith wrongly suspected of illegal activity. That is the price we must pay for the safety of our citizens. No one should be wrongly accused, but anyone who appears engaged in activity suggestive of a conspiracy to commit crime should be questioned and, upon probable cause, made the subject of a warrant and a search.
The neighbor supposedly saw this couple who comported themselves as devout Muslims receive a large number of suspicious packages not ordinarily received, apparently work on a project in their garage, and receive visitors of Middle Eastern background who had never been to the residence before. The neighbor did not call police because she thought doing so would cause her to be brandished Islamophobic or anti-Muslim. She should have.
A call to the police in a circumstance such as this is nothing more than a reasonable precaution. When neighbors play loud music, appear to be intoxicated, or appear to be engaged in nefarious activity of one kind or another, police inquiry is a commonplace. It is not a justification for arrest in and of itself, nor is it a justification for harassment, but it justifies inquiry and if inquiry yields further suspicion, surveillance, and if surveillance reveals the elements of a criminal conspiracy, an arrest.
Had police surveilled the residence of Farook and Malik, they may well have uncovered the fact that they were engaged in bomb-making. The house contained over a dozen IEDs and thousands of rounds of munitions. If police had proceed upon probable cause to make an arrest or upon a warrant to search the premises, they would have averted the loss of innocent life. They could well have done so had this neighbor contacted police.
We live in an age where reliance on constitutionally permissible policing techniques to ferret out domestic terror is essential. We should be suspicious of those who behave strangely and through their own actions cause us to suspect that they may be plotting murder or mayhem.
This neighbor became suspicious not because those next door were Muslims but because they changed their routine in remarkable ways by receiving a large number of suspicious packages, working on a project in their garage, and receiving Middle Eastern visitors who had not shown up at the residence before. The combination of all of those factors combined with their devout Muslim heritage does indeed give rise to suspicion of criminal activity, and both she and law enforcement should react. She should have called the police, and the police should have made inquiries and proceeded based on probable cause.
That likely would have led to a search warrant, a search and seizure of the weapons on the premises, the arrest Farook and Malik, and subsequent prosecution of them, saving those subsequently killed and injured.
When we ask the public to be alert to suspicious activity possibly linked to terrorism, we are of course expecting them to alert police. They will do so, necessarily, based on partial information and educated guesses as to what is afoot. Some may proceed with malice, and they may be prosecuted civilly and criminally for that. The vast majority of others, however, will be like this neighbor, troubled by whether contacting the police about the activity may be perceived by others as an offense against political correctness. That impediment, however, is itself a prejudice and should give way to reason.
The actions of Farook and Malik were unusual and did justify a police inquiry. Neighbors aware of that peculiar activity should have reported it to the police, and the police should have inquired. If wrong in their suspicions, the consequence would be a minor inconvenience. If right, as they would have been here, the result would have been a thwarting of an act of terror. Report suspicious activity we must, regardless of political correctness.
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© 2015 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved
Jonathan W. Emord is an attorney who practices constitutional and administrative law before the federal courts and agencies. Ron Paul calls Jonathan “a hero of the health freedom revolution” and says “all freedom-loving Americans are in [his] debt . . . for his courtroom [victories] on behalf of health freedom.” He has defeated the FDA in federal court a remarkable eight times, seven on First Amendment grounds, and is the author of the Amazon bestsellers The Rise of Tyranny, Global Censorship of Health Information, and Restore the Republic. He is the American Justice columnist for U.S.A. Today Magazine and joins Robert Scott Bell weekly for “Jonathan Emord’s Sacred Fire of Liberty,” an hour long radio program on government threats to individual liberty. For more info visit Emord.com, join the Emord FDA/FTC Law Group on Linkedin, and follow Jonathan on twitter (@jonathanwemord).
Mindful of political correctness, fearing being labeled “anti-Muslim,” that neighbor never informed police of the activity. Consequently, we may ascribe part of the blame for the loss of 14 lives on the pervasive culture of political correctness that surrounds us.