When newspaper editors get together for their next good head-scratching session—Why do they hate us? Why don’t they take us seriously? Why are they abandoning us in droves?—someone should hand out copies of Ruth Marcus’s column “The girls are back” from the June 12 issue of the Washington Post.
The Boston Marathon bombings highlighted, once again, the challenges of assimilating Muslim youth. And while the onus of accountability ought not rest exclusively on Muslim Americans, it understandably weighs most heavily on them. Indeed, any fair-minded assessment of recent events must underscore the inadequacies of Muslim-American leaders. Yet the usual criticisms are wide of the mark and fail to identify the institutional as well as intellectual weaknesses of these leaders.
Politics can seem frustratingly complex. It can be a challenge to grasp that the targeting of conservatives by Internal Revenue Service officials over the last few years constitutes a genuine scandal, while the lawful activities of employees of the National Security Agency do not. It can be a strain to distinguish the illegitimate and arbitrary use of government power to harass American citizens exercising their constitutional rights from the legitimate use of government power to protect the nation from our enemies abroad.
Two weeks of protests across Turkey that have left four dead and more than 5,000 injured have observers wondering whether Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing an Anatolian Spring. Is Turkey’s Islamic ruler weathering a crisis similar to the revolutionary climate that sent Arab protesters into the streets two years ago, pitted populations against each other, and in several notable cases toppled dictators?
One might expect Keith Alexander to advocate on behalf of the two programs at the center of our national debate about terrorism and surveillance. He is, after all, the head of the National Security Agency, which runs them. “It’s dozens of terrorist events that these have helped prevent—both here and abroad—in disrupting or contributing to the disruption of terrorist attacks,” Alexander testified last week.
The Scrapbook’s hypothesis that the substance of blockbuster news stories tends to diminish with time—there’s less here than meets the eye—is borne out most of the time. Which, as nonscientific theories tend to go, is an enviable record.
Should Americans fear the possible abuse of the intercept power of the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland? Absolutely. In the midst of the unfolding scandal at the IRS, we understand that bureaucracies are callous creatures, capable of manipulation. In addition to deliberate misuse, closed intelligence agencies can make mistakes in surveilling legitimate targets, causing mountains of trouble. Consider Muslim names.