The words came from a Supreme Court decision by one of this country's most renowned legal minds, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, in a 1927 ruling upholding the compulsory sterilization of the mentally retarded. The opinion ended, famously: "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."
You may agree or not. But I wish that our public officials were permitted such plain speaking today. Many of the most important questions now have to be discussed in a kind of code.
Peggy Noonan gripes:
America is in line at the airport. America has its shoes off, is carrying a rubberized bin, is going through a magnetometer. America is worried there is fungus on the floor after a million stockinged feet have walked on it. But America knows not to ask. America is guilty until proved innocent, and no one wants to draw undue attention. …Why does she write like this, when I know, and you know, and she knows, and she knows we know, what she means? She means: If someone is going to blow up the airplane you're flying in without asking your permission, the overwhelming odds are that it will be a Muslim. The TSA should turn every Muslim boarding a plane upside down and shake them, and leave the rest of us to get on with our day.
Why do we do this when you know I am not a terrorist, and you know I know you know I am not a terrorist? Why this costly and harassing kabuki when we both know the facts, and would agree that all this harassment is the government's way of showing "fairness," of showing that it will equally humiliate anyone in order to show its high-mindedness and sense of justice?
Again, you are free to agree or not. But we have entered a frightening era when a journalist doesn't dare say what she means because the "rights" mob will immediately demand that she be banned from the public prints.
Our national government has now decided that the word "jihad" is taboo:
Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as "jihadists" or "mujahedeen," according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like "Islamo-fascism" is out, too."New York, July 4, 2010 — Extremists who have hijacked the holy and peaceful religion of Islam set off a nuclear device that obliterated Manhattan at 3:25 p.m. yesterday. A spokesman for the extremists said in a press conference at the National Association for Intercultural Understanding, 'Our brothers have taken a further step in the struggle to do good. Such will be the fate of all infidels, Crusaders, and sons of pigs and monkeys.'
The reason: Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates. For example, while Americans may understand "jihad" to mean "holy war," it is in fact a broader Islamic concept of the struggle to do good, says the guidance prepared for diplomats and other officials tasked with explaining the war on terror to the public.
"President Obama had no immediate comment other than to say that 'I will be communicating with, not confronting, these extremists in a televised address tomorrow immediately following American Superstar. Please stay tuned following the show.'"
Consider now the case of Colorado state representative Douglas Bruce. He is apparently a very brave man, or perhaps one whose formative years predated the PC Age and who hasn't gotten the message. In a debate in the legislature about migrant workers, he said, "We don't need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in the state of Colorado."
The Denver Post describes what followed:
Audible gasps and cries of "no" filled the House chamber before Gunnison Democrat Rep. Kathleen Curry, in charge while the speaker handled other business, took the unusual step of banning Bruce from further comment on the bill.
"How dare you?" Curry asked him.
How indeed? It was daring in a way that our leftist Grand Inquisitors believe should be met with severe penalties.
Premeditated bigotry is what Rep. Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, called it. He said that, as a descendant of "illiterate slaves," he believes that Bruce's comment warrants ethics hearings that could result in reprimand, censure or expulsion from the legislature.
"This statement is so bigoted . . . clearly it violated the decorum of the House," Carroll said.
Rep. Carroll is a First Amendment illiterate who would like us all to be slaves of his ideological preferences. Oh, sorry, Terrance — I should be communicating with, not confronting, you. Wouldn't want to give you a veneer of credibility.