Courage to say what everyone knows

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The Article

According to an item that appeared yesterday on the BBC website, giving up smoking may sharply increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The connection between this and airport security—my topic du jour—might not be readily apparent. So let me explain.

The BBC story is politically incorrect. Smoking is supposed to be always bad for you; giving it up always good. That is what political correctness demands, and therefore studies which show the contrary must be suppressed or ignored. (It’s the same thing with “anthropogenic global warming,” and a few hundred other topics.)

I personally doubt smoking is always good for you, and I generally recommend against taking it up. But whether it has benefits or not, there has in fact been an accumulation of evidence that suddenly giving up smoking, after decades through which your metabolism has been adapting to tar and nicotine, might be rather more dangerous than continuing to smoke.

An open mind will examine evidence, whether the risk is health or security. It will not allow itself to be blindsided by the requirements of anybody’s propaganda. It will certainly work from hunches and expectations, but it will also subject its own assumptions to skeptical review.

“Western Civ” became rich and powerful, but also remarkably free and humane, out of this very habit of playing “devil’s advocate” with itself. This has been, for 20 centuries now, innate even to the theological reasoning of the Church to which I belong (the Roman one).

Let’s put this in the plainest language. The first thing the Devil tries to do, when invading an intellectual organism, is get rid of the “devil’s advocate.” He needs people who are afraid to think.

The first thing political correctness attempts is to suppress any genuine inquiry or debate. Instead, by the threat of personal contumely and ostracism, it instills a neurotic compulsion to avoid contradicting the “correct” political line. This must necessarily be a powerful neurosis: for the ideas which animate “progressive” or “left-wing” people tend to disintegrate on contact with common sense.

Here’s a little exercise I learned from a friend. Repeat after me: “The problem with stereotypes is that they’re all true!” (It’s just a breathing exercise.)

That smoking item on the BBC—itself an intensely “PC” institution—can thus be taken as a sign of the times. It is one of many glinting indications I have seen in “mainstream” media, lately, that freedom of thought may be returning.

I mention this at an angle to the most spectacular indication. It was triggered by some Nigerian Islamist, who (“allegedly”) tried to take down an airliner on its approach to Detroit, Christmas day. So far, ho hum—that’s the sort of thing Islamists are always trying to do. So why is it news?

After all, President Obama’s homeland security chief, the unbelievably incompetent but assiduously PC Janet Napolitano, twice announced, “the system worked.”

What she could only mean by this is, that after the total failure of massive bureaucratic measures to prevent the boarding of a man they’d been directly warned to look out for, passengers aboard the flight tackled him. The terrorist was thus prevented from detonating his binary “knicker bomb.” Better yet, he was left with painful burns.

Don’t laugh. His mission was a complete success. By pulling that one little stunt, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, from Lagos, Nigeria, by way of Yemen, was able to snarl Christmas and New Year’s traffic through airports all over the world, and especially across North America. He was able to induce the unbelievably incompetent Janet Napolitano to immediately introduce several new layers of utterly useless air security regulations, which in turn backed up vast crowds of air travellers, thus making them ripe targets for any suicide bomber.

But there is hope. Conditions have now got so bad, from the 99 per cent of damage that is inflicted not by terrorists but by the cumbersome bureaucracies responding to them (100 per cent in this case), that we are now reading “mainstream” articles about how the Israelis handle airport security—with total success, against much greater threats, at lower cost, with no flight delays.

This is encouraging: people are actually discussing what works. I did notice several of the articles, though well-researched in other respects, carefully avoided mentioning the key element in the Israeli security strategy, which is: open ethnic, religious, demographic, and behavioural profiling.

It is not something anyone wants to do. It is just something that has to be done if we are going to avoid being slaughtered by terrorists.

And though we may not yet be talking about the issue directly, the cracks are appearing in the wall of political correctitude, which means it might eventually come down.

Later, we might want to return to the actual risks of smoking. But for now, we should deal with our mass apocalyptic death problem.

David Warren
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Joel Johannesen
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