GOOD THING the Circuit City clerk responsible for dropping a dime on the Fort Dix Six didn't succumb to the type of pressure evident after a Cinco de Mayo party at the University of Delaware earlier this month.

Oh, he thought about it. But his street smarts outweighed his dalliance with political correctness. And for that we should all be much obliged.

Of course, I'm referring to the teen asked by a pair of alleged would-be terrorists to dub a camcorder video onto a DVD. What he saw was a group of bearded men firing guns at a Poconos target range and shouting, "God is great!"

He was freaked out, and, according to the New York Post, told a co-worker, "I don't know what to do. Should I call someone, or is that being racist?"

Common sense trumped his fear of being cast as a bigot, so he told a manager who called 911. And no one doubts he's a hero for acting on his suspicion.

But what does that have to do with a Cinco de Mayo party?

Plenty. On May 5, students at the University of Delaware attended an off-campus "South of the Border" party. Some were members of Phi Sigma Pi, a national honor fraternity. Several showed up wearing gardeners' outfits with nametags reading "Pedro" or "Jose." Unfortunately, "Spic n' Span Gardening" was written across at least one outfit. Others labeled themselves "Hott," "Spicy" or "Full of Tequila."

Party pictures ended up on Facebook, and the Campus Alliance de La Raza (CALR) quickly posted a statement on its Web site. They thought the costumes were proof of racism at the school. La Raza demanded that the school and fraternity take action to offer "more than lip service" against the offensive partygoers.

Ever since, the students have been tripping over each other to offer the sincerest apology. Their remorse is a study in white guilt.

"I am aware of the grave mistake I made; it was wrong, hurtful, and offensive for me to do what I did," one wrote.

"My use of malicious language or stereotypes does not reflect my personal views or beliefs and was a complete and utter serious misjudgment," offered another.

"I made a terrible error in judgment. I dressed in an offensive costume with a stupid and hurtful saying written on it, and I feel awful knowing that this costume has hurt so many people," wrote a third.

Grave mistake? Terrible error? Sure, the Spic n' Span reference was over the line, but the rest is the harmless stuff of college. You did something stupid, not life-threatening, now relax and have another shot of Cuervo.

I'm concerned that these kids really think they did do something just shy of murder by dressing up for a theme party. And CALR already got its wish when those students accused of "racist acts" were suspended from Phi Sigma Pi for a year.

But here's the big picture: These kids are being indoctrinated into a mindset that won't let them report suspicious behavior because they're whipped by political correctness. Welcome to a world in which every slight, every indiscretion, every look is grounds for federal intervention and litigation instead of being resolved with a hand gesture.

As I often say, this sanitization of what we say and do ordinarily would be worthy of a minor, inconsequential debate - but in the post-9/11 world, these trends represent a cancer that threatens our very survival.

Is one of the apologizers from Delaware now going to think twice before reporting suspicious activity? I don't doubt it.

What if the Circuit City clerk in Mount Laurel had let political correctness get the better of his instincts? We're lucky he risked cries of racism to get his suspicions off his chest. Otherwise, we might not have time to talk about a frat party gone wrong. *

Listen to Michael Smerconish weekdays 5:30-9 a.m. on the Big Talker, 1210/AM. Read him Sundays in the Inquirer. Contact him via the Web at www.mastalk.com.