Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, and Common Sense

Some of the headlines this week are drearily familiar, like "The Price of Oil and the Massacre at Fort Hood." I've no doubt that the price of oil is connected with the [alleged] acts of Major Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood. I'm pretty sure that the autumnal equinox was involved, too. As well as the New York Stock Market and the political campaigns leading up to the recent American election.

We live in a strongly interconnected world. As John Muir said, "Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe."

But that doesn't necessarily mean that the price of peanuts in Perth made a significant difference in how many people Major Hasan [allegedly] killed in Fort Worth, last week.

And I'm not at all convinced that 'Big Oil' is 'really behind' what happened. Any more than I think that commie plots were behind everything that 'real Americans' didn't like, back in the forties and fifties. Yes, there were (and are) communists. Some of them probably plotted.

But come on, folks: there's more to the world than struggling towards the worker's paradise, and protecting Mother Earth against plutocrats' pursuit of filthy lucre.

Focus on Islam? There's a Reason

Another headline reads, "Muslims frustrated by focus on religion in Fort Hood shooting". I'm a bit sympathetic with Muslims in America who don't think Allah is telling them to kill the unbeliever. As I've written before, this period of history really doesn't seem to be Islam's shining hour.

Major Hasan didn't help matters any, by [allegedly] saying "Allahu akbar" as he [allegedly] murdered over a dozen people. Making that quintessentially Islamic remark pretty much guaranteed that religion would be part of the discussion of the Fort Hood shooting.

At this point, I think that politely ignoring the religious aspect of the Fort Hood incident would be adding another layer of willful incompetence to the little matter of how people who should have acted responsibly treated Nidal Malik Hasan's [allegedly] bizarre behavior.

I still think it's possible - even likely - that Islam itself isn't a system of belief that can't be tolerated in a post-Magna Carta world.

But, now that Imam Anwar al-Awlaki's name has cropped up in connection with Major Hasan, and we learn about emails sent by Hasan to the Imam, ignoring one of the more dubiously-safe flavors of Islam would be, in my opinion, ridiculous.
"A senior government official tells ABC News that investigators have found that alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan had "more unexplained connections to people being tracked by the FBI" than just radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki. The official declined to name the individuals but Congressional sources said their names and countries of origin were likely to emerge soon.

"Questions already surround Major Hasan's contact with Awlaki, a radical cleric based in Yemen whom authorities consider a recruiter for al Qaeda. U.S. officials now confirm Hasan sent as many as 20 e-mails to Awlaki. Authorities intercepted the e-mails but later deemed them innocent or protected by the first amendment...."
(ABC News)

Islam Disrespected? Welcome to My World

I'm one of 'those Christians.' I'll freely admit that there are people who insist that they're Christian - and do bad things. Individuals like Joseph Burges, and organizations like the KKK of the fifties and sixties, for example.

I think that Muslims who think that Allah isn't telling them to kill lots of people should see this period's focus on their beliefs as an opportunity to tell their side. Playing the victim, on the other hand, might feel good - but I think that particular fad has played out.

'I can't understand what it's like, to have my beliefs attacked?'

I was raised in a mainstream Protestant church, and accepted what I'd been taught.

I spent the first decades of my life on or near American college campuses. I learned that, to be considered 'sophisticated,' you had to talk about how pathological, oppressive, and generally yucky religion was. "Western" religion, that is: Christianity was taboo, but the more obviously "non-Western" beliefs were sort of okay.

So, I became a Catholic: which is another topic, for another blog.

Islam, before that little set of incidents on September 11, 2001, may have enjoyed the status of a 'non-Western' religion. Now, with outfits like Al Qaeda and the Taliban insisting that they're defending Islam - and nations like Sudan and Saudi Arabia being as Islamic as they can be - by their own standards - it's getting hard to ignore the weird side of Islam.

Particularly with so many bodies on the floor.

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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.