The failure to detect the San Bernardino, California, terrorist should serve as a giant red flag. Paralysis by political correctness in identifying Islamic terrorism threatens to sow destruction from within.

The political and media Establishment’s frantic attempt to frame last week’s mass shootings as just another deranged guy — Syed Farook — with access to guns completely overlooked an obvious and growing trail of evidence indicating that the killers’ goal was jihad all along.

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It is now obvious to all that the attack was not a case of random “workplace violence” — as the White House termed the 2009 Islamist attack on Fort Hood, Texas — but rather a plot carefully designed to inflict maximum carnage and strike fear into the hearts of American “infidels” that no place is safe from the reach of violent jihad.

It should have been obvious to some even in the immediate aftermath that this was no Christmas party dispute. But worst of all, it should have been clear to someone that this was going to happen. Instead, it seems likely that to at least some extent, political correctness kept people from grasping the signs of danger.

Consider all of the warnings that were missed or overlooked by authorities, even with the country still on high alert after November’s terror attacks on Paris:

  • A vast arsenal of firearms, ammunition and pipe bombs was being assembled in Farook’s apartment and garage, and nobody noticed.
  • Tashfeen Malik, Syed’s Pakistani terror bride, used a nonexistent address on her K-1 fiancée visa application.
  • Malik was educated at a radical Pakistani madrassa, and her family has strong ties to jihadi ideology.
  • The sum of $28,500 was deposited into Farook’s bank account just two weeks before the shooting, and three transfers of at least $5,000 were made to his mother.
  • The couple posted on social media expressions of sympathy to jihad and the Islamic State.
  • In the police scanner traffic following the shooting, Farook was identified as being investigated by Los Angeles police a week earlier.
  • The couple frequented a local shooting range in the days leading up to the attack.

In the era of “see something, say something,” which Obama urged Americans to do before Thanksgiving if they saw potential terror activity, why didn’t someone put these pieces together and alert law enforcement?

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Perhaps some were too immersed in their smartphones to bother, but news reports suggest neighbors noticed suspicious activity by Middle Eastern men outside of Farook’s house prior to the attack. They didn’t say anything because they were afraid of being labeled as racist “profilers.”

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It is telling that preliminary comments by President Obama and coverage by mainstream media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post and MSNBC treated the event as just another mass shooting in an attempt to, at best, downplay concerns over Islam’s violent characteristics and, at worst, use the event as a means to push the gun control agenda.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch went even further last week by saying the shooting provided a “wonderful opportunity” to curtail gun rights, and that her Justice Department would prosecute people engaging in “anti-Muslim rhetoric.”

These remarks negate appeals made by Obama for Americans to be vigilant in protecting themselves from Islamic terror, as the line between reporting sketchy activity and hate speech continues to blur.

Just look at what happened when teachers reported Ahmed Mohamed to the police for bringing a device to school that resembled a bomb, but turned out to be the guts of a clock. Mohamed was invited to the White House, and those merely trying to protect students at the school were by implication forever stigmatized as racists.

Such thinking prevailed in the immediate aftermath of San Bernardino.

Despite having all the characteristics of a premeditated jihadi attack, the media confidently presented Farook as little more than a quiet, devout Muslim. 

Despite having all the characteristics of a premeditated jihadi attack, the media confidently presented Farook as little more than a quiet, devout Muslim who enjoyed surfing, working on cars and spending time with his family. In short, he was the type of person you’d want living next door — that is, until he got his hands on “assault weapons” that are so readily available in America’s gun loving culture.

This Muslim-next-door narrative quickly imploded as investigators uncovered the true motives for the crime. The FBI conceded Monday that Farook had been radicalized and had sympathies toward the Islamic State for “quite some time” before he brought Malik to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia.

“Americans have to be free to report suspicious behavior, and they should not hold back because of fear that someone is going to dismiss them or the government will somehow prosecute them if they make a mistake,” Carol Swain, a black professor at Vanderbilt University who has come under fire on her own campus for criticizing Islam, said on Fox News.