Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fort Hood Shooting: 'It Was a Ay-Rab!'

Updated (November 6, 2009)
Information is trickling out
"Major Nidal Malik Hasan, "Allah Akbar," American History and Common Sense"
(November 6, 2009)

Updated (November 5, 2009) 8:44 p.m. Central
It appears that Major Hasan is alive, after all.

I'm not particularly surprised. A multiple homicide like this isn't (really) an everyday occurrence on American military bases - and early reports often get corrected in news events of disasters.
The facts seem pretty clear: A dozen people were killed at Fort Hood today.

Eleven of them appear to have been victims, one a perpetrator, who was in turn killed.

And, it's in the news.
"Officials: 11 killed, plus gunman, in Fort Hood shootings"
CNN (November 5, 2009)

"Eleven people plus a gunman were dead and 31 wounded after a shooting Thursday at a soldier-processing center at Fort Hood, Texas, officials said.

"The gunman who was killed was a soldier, Army Lt. Gen. Bob Cone said. Two other soldiers have been detained as suspects, Cone said.

"The slain gunman was identified as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, a law enforcement source told CNN. Licensed in Virginia, Hasan was a psychiatrist who previously worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center but more recently was practicing at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, according to professional records.

"Hasan was scheduled to be deployed to Iraq, "and appeared to be upset about that," Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said...."

"... More than one shooter may have been involved, Cone said.

" 'All the casualties took place at the initial incident, that took place at 13:30 [1:30 p.m. CT], at the soldier readiness facility,' Cone said...."
There's more to the article, but that's the gist of it.

This incident is international news:
"Soldier kills 11 in shooting rampage at Fort Hood army base"
Reuters (November 5, 2009)

"A U.S. Army major firing two handguns killed 11 people and wounded 31 others in a shooting rampage on Thursday at Fort Hood base in Texas, a prime point of deployment for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The Army said the gunman was killed. U.S. broadcast media identified him as Major Malik Nidal Hasan, and said he was a psychiatrist who was facing an upcoming deployment to Iraq. There was no immediate official confirmation of his identity...."

"Gunmen go on rampage at US army base, killing 12"
The Independent (UK) (November 6, 2009)

"The US Army confirmed last night that as many as 12 people were killed and 30 wounded in shootings on the sprawling Fort Hood military base near the city of Waco in Texas. The largest such facility in the United States, it has been at the heart of troop deployment to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Military officials said that there were as many as three gunmen responsible for the rampage and that one of the gunmen had been killed. An additional two soldiers had been apprehended and were under suspicion. All three of these individuals were identified by an Army spokesman as soldiers...."

Assumptions, Arabs, Names and Wigpickers

During the George W. Bush administration there were otherwise-sensible people who knew (assumed, but probably thought it was certain knowledge) that the president was "diabolical." They probably still assume that this is the case about G. W. Bush.
Assumptions Aren't a Liberal Monopoly - Or a Conservative Phenomenon
There's a new face in the White House, and I think it's unlikely that the same people who 'know' that G. W. B. is diabolical probably don't think that President Barack Hussein Obama is a radical Muslim terrorist: and not a 'real' American.

But, some 'know' that the current president of the United States is one of them thar Muslims. Which, as is well known, is all terrorists.

(Notice how statements sound stupid, when couched in an ersatz redneck dialect? Which is a related - but different - topic.)

I haven't - and won't - identify those of my acquaintances who appear to have difficulty distinguishing fact from assumption, and occasionally principle from preference. Journalists have their unidentified sources - I suppose I can try getting away with the same thing. Besides, why embarrass an individual: when so many people don't take time to check the facts before voicing an opinion?
Arabs, Americans, Names, and Getting a Grip
It's been a long, long time since "American" could be reasonably linked with one ethnicity.

America 'looks Anglo' because many or most immigrants for the first two centuries of America's existence came from Europe. Northwestern Europe, at first. And, although there are comparatively subtle differences, most people with ancestors who came mostly from northwestern Europe, at least, look alike. We're melanin-deficient, tend to have light-colored eyes, and although some of us are blond, most have brown hair.

But there's a substantial portion of Americans whose ancestors came from Africa, or had relocated here from Siberia about 20,000 years ago, or immigrated from east Asia - you get the idea. I hope.

"Smith" is still a very common name in America - but that doesn't mean that people with names like Kongelf or Schmidt, or Nakamura, or Ng, aren't 'real Americans.' I've been over this before:
Is Hussein an Evil Name?
Saddam Hussein did no favors to the name "Hussein." He ran Iraq for about three decades, before a coalition removed him from power. Shortly after that, the new Iraqi government expressed their opinion of his administration of their country by removing Mr. Hussein from the roles of the living.

Saddam wasn't the best leader in the world. But it isn't reasonable to assume that everyone with "Hussein" in his or her name is a potential tyrant with a taste for solid gold bathroom fixtures.
  • Saddam Hussein's last name may not even be a surname, in the western sense of the word.
  • "Hussein" is a fairly common surname. In America. I did a little checking -
    Frequency* of selected family names in America, as of 1997: *Number of times the name showed up in a list of 88,700,000 American names, from the 1997 U.S. Census.
  • I understand that "Hussein" is even more common in and around the Middle East.
It's no more reasonable to think that a Hussein is a tyrant-in-the-making, than it is to assume that a Schmidt wears black boots and marches the goose step, or that Johnsens and Stensruds are likely to lead a band of raiders down the Mississippi.
(February 28, 2008)
It's a fact that the shooter who apparently was killed had a name which suggests, strongly, that his ancestors didn't come primarily from Yorkshire or London - or, probably, any place in Europe.

Which doesn't mean that he wasn't an American. Or that he was a Muslim. Or that he was a terrorist.
Psychiatrist Goes Berserk
One thing we do seem to know is that Major Nidal Malik Hasan was a psychiatrist.

Well, 'everybody knows' what that means!

It's been a few decades since the blatantly-insane psychiatrist was a stock comic character. Earlier, when I was growing up, I encountered people with a variety of opinions about psychiatrists.
  1. Some regarded them as 'wigpickers' - people who made a business of worming their way into someone's confidence, and then identifying fairly normal behavior as signs of nuttiness.
  2. Others stopped (barely) short of worshiping these all-knowing entities, who held the secrets of the mind in their grasp.
  3. Still others assumed that psychiatry was a sort of scam, preying on the fears and hopes of naive dupes.
People holding view #1 or #3 might assume that Major Hasan snapped because he was a psychiatrist - and, therefore, completely unreliable.

I don't think that's true.

I also don't know that Major Hasan was a Muslim, or that he was a terrorist. He may have been.

Or, he may have been someone who didn't want to go overseas, may have been particularly disinclined to go to Iraq, and sufficiently stressed to express his feelings in a particularly destructive way.

Like I said, I don't know.

Aha! But His Name was Hasan!

Actually, quite a number of Americans have "Hasan" as a family name: roughly 3,000, judging from what says. Ironically, hasan means "good" or "handsome" in Arabic.

"Hassan" is roughly twice as common. ( It can be an alternative spelling of Hasan, or an anglicized form of the Arabic word "beautifier." 1

People living in that quadrangle defined by Maine, Florida, California, and Oregon, as well as Hawaii and Alaska, had better start getting used to a new set of 'funny sounding' names. I think we can do it, judging from the assortment I've seen in the local telephone directory.

Bottom Line: Thinking is a Good Idea

Taking a deep breath, collecting facts, waiting until there's enough to form a comparatively supportable opinion, and then thinking - before expressing that opinion - takes effort. Sometimes it isn't particularly easy.

But I think it's a good idea.

Related posts: In the news:
1 My own family name, as near as we can learn, means either "gully" or "slave," depending on which language my forebears used, when told to pick a surname - an event which predates written family records. Euro-Americans generally don't know what their names mean - but that isn't the case for all people.

1 comment:

Moss said...

This was bound to happen sooner or later and comes as no surprise to anyone with any knowledge of Islam. Expect even worse to come, including spectacular acts of sabotage against military/industrial targets. See links under









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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.