Who the Enemy Is Not

January 15, 1991

Nothing has happened to raise doubts about the American loyalty of the large and diverse Arab-American communities. Any baiting of Arab ethnicity at this time is offensive and stupid, and plays into Saddam Hussein's hands.

Whatever is wrong is not made right by fears of terrorism. Saddam Hussein keeps saying he will unleash it, and perhaps he will. But if his mere saying so provokes responses against innocent people, he has won that battle. Terrorism is, indeed, a possibility. The Iraqi dictator was a sponsor of it before, and several terrorist leaders have gravitated to Baghdad as other sanctuaries have closed down.

Terrorism is on the retreat worldwide as the countries of Eastern Europe have dropped support and as Libya has shortened the reins and Syria has cleaned up its act for now. That does not rule out the use of personnel and supplies in place for a spectacular or two. Professionals in this field have always shown a willingness to change masters.

Vigilance is needed, but the means are the same old ones, since terrorism and terrorists and their aim at American targets are not new. The preventive guard must be pursued with renewed vigor, but this is not a new menace. For the FBI to interview members of the Arab-American community in hope of tips to possible terrorists, as has been reported, would be justified if fruitful. Experience, however, does not promise many useful results from such inquiry.

Arabs and Muslims are not Saddam Hussein. They are his victims. Iraqi-born Americans are not his henchmen but, more likely, refugees from his tyranny. The notion that the U.S. is engaged on a European and Judeo-Christian crusade against Arabism and Islam is a lie. It is Saddam Hussein's lie. No American should make it credible.

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