Editor's note: S.E. Cupp is author of "Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity" and co-author of "Why You're Wrong About the Right." She is a columnist at the New York Daily News, senior writer at the Daily Caller, and a political commentator.
(CNN) -- In the hours following the Times Square car-bombing attempt, some in the media -- as well as some public officials -- insisted we shouldn't rush to judgment about the identity or motives of the person responsible for the failed attack. He could be, they insisted, just a homegrown nut job.
On November 5, 2009, about eight hours after the Muslim-Palestinian U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire at a Fort Hood soldier readiness center, killing 13 Americans and wounding 30 others, allegedly shouting "Allahu Akbar!" as he did it, early media coverage of the massacre was much the same. The ever-cautious talking heads on cable news carefully reminded us not to assume that Nidal Hasan was motivated by Islamic extremism. He could be, they insisted, just a disgruntled employee.
Of course, we now know that the would-be Times Square bomber wasn't just a guy who was angry about health care, as Mayor Mike Bloomberg speculated in the hours before Faisal Shahzad was identified as the suspect, or just an average Joe worried about his foreclosed house, as some suggested in the days after.
And last November, we also eventually learned what U.S. intelligence officials had known for months, apparently, about Maj. Hasan -- that he wasn't just really stressed out, but an Anwar al Awlaki groupie, a superfan of the radical Muslim cleric that Obama now wants dead.
The FBI reportedly knew about Hasan at least six months before he decided to attack Fort Hood. They knew about his e-mails to al Awlaki, the "Soldier of Allah" moniker he often included in correspondence and on business cards, the public comments he made about his faith conflicting with his role in the U.S. military, his repeated attempts to contact al Qaeda, and his frightening Internet posts extolling the virtues of suicide bombers. But all of this apparently only raised pretty, pastel pink flags, not the bright, fire-engine red ones they should have.
Contrast Shahzad and Hasan, both caught after their attacks, with the raid and arrest of nine Hutaree Christian militia members in March of 2010, who were effectively investigated, surveilled and captured without incident by the FBI and Michigan state police before they carried out a single attack. Afterward, Attorney General Eric Holder was visibly proud of a job well done: "Thankfully, this alleged plot has been thwarted and a severe blow has been dealt to a dangerous organization that today stands accused of conspiring to levy war against the United States."
If nine men in Michigan constitute a dangerous organization conspiring to levy war against the United States, what is Hasan? Or Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, who tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day, despite the fact that his own father had tried to warn the U.S. that he was coming?
More important, why wasn't Shahzad on our radar before he detonated a car bomb? We know now that his plans to blow up Times Square weren't spontaneous, but planned. We know now that he has ties to al Qaeda and apparently sought training from the Pakistani Taliban. He also bought an airline ticket to Dubai with cash, which is supposed to be an immediate red flag for airline security officials.
Maybe it has something to do with political correctness. If we read the Obama administration's national security strategy, threats like Hasan, Shahzad and Abdul Mutallab are nebulous and undefined, since terms like "Islamic extremism" were stripped from the document. The recently-issued Pentagon report on Hasan also failed to include any mention of radical Islam as the cause of his rampage, echoing the liberal media's muddled confusion over whether or not to call these fanatics "terrorists" or merely "troubled."
The reluctance by the media and the government to acknowledge Islamic extremism -- is responsible for the deaths at Fort Hood, and the nearly successful attempts by Abdul Mutallab and Shahzad.
Even after we knew Shahzad was an Islamic terrorist, MSNBC host Contessa Brewer expressed her disappointment, suggesting some of us actually wanted him to be Muslim so we could revel in our bigotry: "There are a lot of people who want to use terrorist intent to justify writing off people who believe in a certain way or come from certain countries or whose skin color is a certain way."
Bending over backward to redefine Islamic terrorism, and equate violence with Christian conservatism, has become a favorite pastime of some in the press. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson was one of many to forego the kind of kid-glove caution used to handle Hasan and Shahzad in favor of sweeping mischaracterizations about the Hutaree, arguing that "there has been explosive growth among far-right, militia-type groups that identify themselves as white supremacists, 'constitutionalists,' tax protesters and religious soldiers determined to kill people to uphold 'Christian' values."
He also incorrectly claims that "for the most part, far-left violence in this country has gone the way of the leisure suit and the AMC Gremlin."
Wishful thinking. There was the vandalism against Mormon temples after gay marriage was rejected in California, an episode that got almost no media coverage. And reports of death threats to Maine pro-family leader Mike Heath after a gay marriage vote in Maine. And legislator Jim Bunning reported getting death threats for his conservative position. Environmentalists and animal rights groups have taken to arson over the past decade to promote their left-wing agendas.
Our safety and security are being jeopardized every day because of cowardly political correctness, anti-Christian messages in the media, distracting semantic arguments over definitions and titles, the Obama administration's naïve, Montessori-school foreign policy, and a national security policy that hamstrings the American intelligence community from effectively pursuing threats. It's a double standard that is costing us lives.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of S.E. Cupp.