Sunday, November 8, 2009

Berserk Killer Psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, Islam, and Getting a Grip

There's a body count of 13 and more than twice that number wounded at Fort Hood. The chief (and only) suspect quite possibly said "Allah Akbar!" or maybe "Allahu Akbar!" during his exercise in self-expression.

I should think that emotions are running high on the base, and elsewhere. Which may explain this news item:
"The Army chief of staff says it's important for the country not to get caught up in speculation about the Muslim faith of the alleged Fort Hood gunman.

"Gen. George Casey says he's instructed his commanders to be on the lookout for that reaction to the killings at the Texas post...."
I think that's good advice. For starters, there isn't enough public knowledge to form a solid opinion - and we may never be able to peel back enough layers to figure out what went on inside the head of Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

On the other hand, what we do have to go on is disturbing.

No: I do not think there is some vast Islamic plot, and that the thousand or so Muslims in the United States Army (MailOnline) will rise up as one and start killing their fellow-Americans.

They're Investigating a Possible Conspiracy: So There Must Be One?

According to televised news, law enforcement authorities are investigating the possibility that these shootings were part of a wider conspiracy - and, to date, coming up with no evidence to indicate this is the case. I doubt that they had information which led them to think it was 'some kinda plot.' On the other hand, when someone starts shooting people for no apparent personal reason - the idea that he's part of a larger plan has to be investigated. Investigators would be remiss in their duty if they didn't look into the possibility.

Me? I think the odds are that Major Nidal Malik Hasan snapped and then killed over a dozen people. On his own.

'Everybody Knows' About Muslims, Psychiatrists, Americans, Whatever

Not because he's a Muslim ('everybody knows' what they're like) or because he's a psychiatrist ('everybody knows' what they're like, too): but because he's a human being. (November 5, 2009) We do, from time to time, do things that don't make sense - and that aren't right.

Nidal Malik Hasan and the United States Army: What Went Wrong?

The question is, in my opinion, why he snapped - and why nobody in a responsible position took action when they learned about Nidal Malik Hasan's odd behavior.
"There was the classroom presentation that justified suicide bombings. Comments to colleagues about a climate of persecution faced by Muslims in the military. Conversations with a mosque leader that became incoherent.

As a student, some who knew Nidal Malik Hasan said they saw clear signs the young Army psychiatrist ... had no place in the military. After arriving at Fort Hood, he was conflicted about what to tell fellow Muslim soldiers about the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, alarming an Islamic community leader from whom he sought counsel....
Danquah figured that Hasan's doubts were known by the military's chain of command - and that they'd act responsibly. The brass had opportunities to do so, as complaints got filed for more than a year.

But in this case, it seems that army officials may not have wanted to be branded as Islamophobes. Thirteen bodies later, it looks like overlooking Major Hasan's behavior may not have been an entirely prudent decision.
"...His fellow students complained to the faculty about Hasan's 'anti-American propaganda,' but said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal written complaint...."
Yesterday, I wrote about my concern that Major Hasan may have been a walking time bomb, with army brass ignoring the tick-tick-tick out of fear of being considered biased. Apparently, his fellow-students had noticed that Nidal Malik Hasan had a few screws loose, had reported his behavior - and been ignored.

Tolerance is Fine: But Get a Grip!

Considering cultural - and legal - standards in America over the last four decades, I'm not surprised. 'Discrimination' and 'bias' are among the very few human failings for which the dominant culture in America has zero tolerance. "Zero tolerance" itself may be a reaction to decades of feel-good policies which seemed nice and open-minded, and left chaos in their wake. Which gets into a different topic.

I think the Army chief of staff is right: this isn't a time to jump to conclusions. As The Associated Press put it, "it's important for the country not to get caught up in speculation about the Muslim faith of the alleged Fort Hood gunman."

On the other hand, I wish I didn't feel like telling people in the army chain of command to get a grip. Yes, there are Islamophobes. There are people who have a deep, abiding hatred of Muslims - and Christians, and Americans, and Japanese, and used car dealers and psychiatrists - but let's expect the same standards of behavior from everybody, no matter what their faith - or lack there of - is, or who their ancestors were.

I hope - very sincerely - that thirteen deaths at Fort Hood will encourage military authorities to consider the possibility that a soldier might act improperly - even if that soldier isn't a WASP.1

Related posts: In the news:
1 WASP, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant" "a white person of Anglo-Saxon ancestry who belongs to a Protestant denomination". (Princeton's WordNet)

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.