As I watched what seemed like hours of the endless observances on the 9/11 anniversary, I was struck by the role political correctness played in the disaster.
During interviews, two airport ticket boarding agents both said they had "reservations" about the future terrorists as they were at their ticket counters. But both said they did nothing for fear of being labeled as profiling Middle Eastern men.
Also on Sunday, two top government officials said the fear of profiling played a significant role in the events of that fateful day.
Granted, since that day 10 years ago, there has been ample discussion on political correctness and profiling. But even then - 10 long years ago - there was a growing suspicion that our enemies were similar in their background and that it would be prudent to pay special attention to those who fit that profile.
And yet today, we still avoid any aspect that could be construed as profiling. This is not a political problem - it's a problem of common sense.
Long ago, I feared the prospect of political correctness would be our undoing. And our political correctness is far from limited to the terrorist profiles.
The flash mobs that erupted this past summer - and this past weekend in Minneapolis - are just additional evidence that we continue to avoid the obvious. Our unwillingness to be honest is a cancer that will continue to destroy the fabric of our society.
As a society we tiptoe around the sensitive issues that plague our nation. We throw money at problems without being honest about the core issues that create those problems in the first place. We talk around issues instead of confronting them honestly and frankly.
Had those ticket agents abandoned their fear of being labeled, would the hijackers had been stopped? Doubtful. But who knows?
When the TSA strip-searches a child but avoids the sensitive issues of Middle Eastern men, is society safer?
Labels are dangerous because they lump the good with the bad on some occasions. But the aspect of common sense has largely evaporated from the national discussion. And we are a less safe nation as a result.
"We have met the enemy and he is us." Those words from a long-ago comic strip were repeated to me on more than one occasion over the weekend. It seems that people are beginning to realize that in many ways, we are our own worst enemy. And that stems from our fear of honesty.
I had hopes that the Bush administration would somehow delicately tackle the issue of political correctness. But they failed miserably. I have much less faith that this administration will ever address the issue.
History may someday record that our downfall was our failure to recognize genuine problems and those responsible for those problems. The solution is within our power. But it will take a level of honesty that is currently lacking.