Army Chief of Staff General George Casey is “concerned.” Well, yes, his troops were massacred by a fellow soldier. He should be concerned that, despite a multiplicity of indications and an ongoing investigation into Major Nadal Hasan’s Internet postings all pointing to a religiously inspired hostility toward America’s military operations and his fellow troops, no one removed Hasan from his position. No one demanded a full evaluation of Hasan’s psyche (although he was so odd that he couldn’t fulfill his duties to see patients). No one took away his guns. They were all quite polite and respectful. And 13 people are dead. So we could understand Casey’s concern.
But wait. That’s not his worry at all. What’s got him fretting is that “this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.” This is, of course, exactly the problem and the very real danger that this sort of incident will not be the last.
In helping to think this through, Barry Rubin (no relation), director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs, has a useful recap of the series of ideologically inspired acts of terror (from John Wilkes Booth to 9/11) for which Herculean efforts were made to ignore the obvious: that while psychologically unhinged, the perpetrators had a reason for their violent acts. They adhered to a twisted ideology that spurred them (and other like-minded compatriots) to strike.
Three of Rubin’s conclusions are especially apt in the context of Fort Hood. First, he writes: “Individuals who commit terrorist acts often have psychological problems but the thing that justified, organized, and ensured that violence would be committed were political ideas.” Second, “When there is clear evidence that danger signs were ignored because people were afraid of being stigmatized for doing their job of protecting their fellows, that is a dangerous mistake that must be corrected.” (This is the error that General Casey seems to be re-enforcing rather than addressing.) And finally:
The media can often be stupid but when it censors reporting for political or social engineering reasons, freedom is jeopardized. The correct phrase is: The public’s right to know. It is not: The public has to be guided into drawing the proper conclusions by slanting and limiting information even if the conclusions being pressed on them are lies and nonsense.
Casey should be concerned if his organization was asleep at the switch and fell victim to a political correctness that clouded common sense. We should be concerned that the head of the Army now seems nervous about candidly discussing what occurred.
To be clear: it is the ultimate red herring, a straw man of gargantuan proportions, to suggest that those pointing to Hasan’s motives and announced intentions (“I am going to do good work for God“) are suggesting that Muslim soldiers as a group are untrustworthy or suspect. No, there is no “backlash” in the works. What there is, and what elite opinion makers should recognize before the public’s fury builds, is that ignoring signs of Islamic-fundamentalist-inspired animus toward America will get people killed. It has. And it will again unless and until we stop tip-toeing around the obvious link between a murderous ideology and murder.