Since his political correctness is informed by different orthodoxies of thought, it is aimed in a different direction, but its most dangerous attribute is exactly the same: It is grounded in a refusal to deal with the world as it is. What’s more, complaints from across the political spectrum are long overdue, because Trump’s political correctness is already causing him to fail at governing.
This may be most consequential in the realm of counterterrorism.
The United States ought to be on guard against acts of terrorism perpetrated by radical Islamists. And it ought to be on guard against terrorists with other motives, too. Given the scale of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, al-Qaeda’s ambition to top it, and the rise of ISIS, many intelligent observers have concluded that Islamist terrorism is the sort that poses the biggest threat to the West. If that judgment is correct, there is little doubt that the next biggest threat to the West, judged using the same standards, is the one posed by right-wing extremism.
The body count illustrates why that threat is not to be ignored.
The second most deadly terrorist attack in American history occurred on April 19, 1995, when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols used a truck bomb to blow up an Oklahoma City federal building, killing 169 people and injuring hundreds more. A New America Foundation study released in June 2015 found that right-wing terrorists killed 48 people on U.S. soil in the period after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. For example, on June 17, 2015, the white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. And Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old with ties to neo-Nazi and white-supremacist groups, killed six and wounded four in a 2012 shooting attack on a Sikh temple.
In Europe, Anders Behring Breivik, an anti-Muslim and anti-feminist radical, killed eight people with a bomb in Oslo, Norway, then shot 69 people at a youth camp for future leaders of his nation, hoping to draw attention to his right-wing manifesto. After extensive study, the Terrorism Research Initiative attributed 303 deaths to right-wing extremist terrorism in Western Europe from 1990 to 2015.
Most recently, on January 29, “Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old, allegedly burst into the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City and killed six Muslims at prayer,” The Economist reports. “The victims included a university lecturer, a pharmacist and a halal butcher. More than a dozen other worshippers were wounded.” A friend of Bissonnette said the killer was “enthralled by a borderline racist nationalist movement.”
During Barack Obama’s presidency, critics repeatedly charged that Obama was unable to effectively keep America safe because he refused to use the term “Islamic terrorism.” They saw his reticence as political correctness run amuck. Obama retorted that he of course understood the nature of the threat, but that he chose his words carefully to avoid legitimating the religious claims of extremists or helping them to drive a wedge between moderate Muslims and the West. “There is no doubt, and I've said repeatedly, where we see terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda or ISIL, they have perverted and distorted and tried to claim the mantle of Islam for an excuse for basically barbarism," Obama said. "What I have been careful about ... is to not lump these murderers into the billion Muslims that exist around the world, including in this country, who are peaceful … who are fellow troops and police officers and fire fighters and teachers and neighbors and friends."