In the New York Times, Maria Newman touched on Hasan’s faith only obliquely: “He was single, according to the records, and he listed no religious preference.” Thank goodness for that, eh? A neighbor in Texas says the major had “Allah” and “another word” pinned up in Arabic on his door. “Akbar” maybe? On Thursday morning he is said to have passed out copies of the Koran to his neighbors. He shouted in Arabic as he fired. But don’t worry: As the FBI spokesman assured us in nothing flat, there’s no terrorism angle.Here's what is so distressing: Robert Spencer is unquestionably one of the West's preeminent experts on the Qur'an and the history of Islam. Like many of us, his frustration at the refusal of officialdom and the mainstream media to deal honestly with the issue of Islamic fanaticism is palpable. It is never, as far as I know, shrill. But when someone yells "fire," before we object to the alarmist tone we should check to see if there's actually something burning.
That’s true, in a very narrow sense: Major Hasan is not a card-carrying member of the Texas branch of al-Qaeda reporting to a control officer in Yemen or Waziristan. If he were, things would be a lot easier. But the pathologies that drive al-Qaeda beat within Major Hasan too, and in the end his Islamic impulses trumped his expensive Western education, his psychiatric training, his military discipline — his entire American identity. One might say the same about Faleh Hassan Almaleki of Glendale, Ariz., arrested last week after fatally running over his “too Westernized” daughter Noor in the latest American honor killing. Or the two U.S. residents — one American, one Canadian — arrested a few days earlier for plotting to fly to Denmark for the purposes of murdering the editor who commissioned the famous Mohammed cartoons. But Noor Almaleki’s brother shrugs that’s just the way it is. “One thing to one culture doesn’t make sense to another culture,” he says.
Indeed. To infidels, Islam is in a certain sense unknowable, and most of us are content to leave it at that. The vast majority of Muslims don’t conspire to kill cartoonists or murder their daughters or shoot dozens of their fellow soldiers. But Islam inspires enough of this behavior to make it a legitimate topic of analysis. Don’t hold your breath. We’d rather talk about anything else — even in the Army.
Anyway, what frustrates me today is that the only link to Robert Spencer's comment below -- which, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, should unquestionably be part of the public conversation -- as I say, the only link to Spencer is from the radio program of Michael Savage. I have never listened to Savage, but I suspect he would be tarred with the brush of right-wingism and therefore ignored. The problem -- my frustration -- is that these days one can only find intelligent remarks such as those Spencer makes in this audio on outlets like Savage's.
I long for the day when one could find them on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, and . . . wan hope indeed, MSNBC. Until that happy day arrives, we have to find honesty and candor where it can be found.
Another way to look at this is by analogy: had I as an Episcopalian gone on a shooting spree, no one would leap to blame the ECUSA or my Christian teachings.
In cases like this to jump to the conclusion that this was all driven by his religion is to not give him the benefit of the doubt. We owe that to him. The easy answer would be to state that "Allah made him do it" and our friends and neighbours who are muslim would likely have to fear for their lives.
As it is things are very tense here in Texas. This is not a state filled with contemplative people, many of whom are armed. To point to his religious affiliation any more strongly than has already been done would be to toss fuel on a bed of smoldering embers.
By the way, NPR has made it very clear that he is muslim and that he was to deploy and that he was upset at that prospect.
To be cautious so as not to set off the anti-Muslim hatred down here in Texas is a prudent, one might even go so far as to say, gracious thing to do. I have no fear we will hear the real motives in time. It may be that he felt compelled by his religion to act. He may also have simply snapped for reasons unrelated to his religion.
I admire our press for their restraint, especially here in Texas.
Take care Gil.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,
Nothing can penetrate the shell of those for whom denial of the obvious is a way of life. The cause of Islamist terrorism is Muslim terrorists acting in the name of their god. Refusal to admit this does not make it untrue, or make the terrorist acts go away.
If this idiot had been wearing an I KILL UNBELIEVERS 4 THE GLORY OF ALLAH t-shirt, some would still be going, "Whuh-whuh-why did he do this?"
Another take on the tragedy at Ft. Hood.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,
Here's a simple test: If Nidal Malik Hasan had been a devout Christian with pronounced anti-abortion views, and had he attacked, say, a Planned Parenthood office, would his religion have been considered relevant as we tried to understand the motivation and meaning of the attack? Of course. Elite opinion makers do not, as a rule, try to protect Christians and Christian belief from investigation and criticism. Quite the opposite. It would be useful to apply the same standards of inquiry and criticism to all religions.
~ Jeffrey Goldberg
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