Fort Hood and Malik Nadal Hassan

November 5, 2009

We are still learning about what happened in today’s terrible attack that killed 12 innocent Americans and wounded 31 others at Fort Hood, but, as facts come out we should be able to have rational discussions about the motivation of the killer, Malik Nadal Hassan, who is apparently alive.

Not on the mainstream media though. Watching the cable channels earlier tonight, there was much talk on CNN and MSNBC that Hassan is a 39 year old psychiatrist who may have treated soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan for post-traumatic stress disorder. It was implied that somehow this was relevant to Hassan going off on a killing rampage. One talking head on CNN (I can’t remember her name) categorically stated that we cannot speculate about anything else regarding the motivation of the killer. The left cable channels sounded more like Hassan’s defense attorneys than objective reporters. Any mention of Hassan’s religion was strictly avoided.

Fox news was the first to interview a colleague of Hassan who described some of Hassan’s views about US foreign policy and his support for Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting our troops as the “agressors”:

The point is not that Hassan is a Muslim. The vast majority of Muslim in the US and worldwide don’t share the fanatical views of Islamic terrorists. But the fact that Hassan is a Muslim should have peaked some curiosity whether he held views similar to Muslim fanatics. When we can speculate about his experience as a psychiatrist, why can’t we discuss the possibility of a connection to fanatical beliefs?

When we heard that the killer’s name is “Malik Nadal Hassan” rather than a name suggesting a non-Muslim background, it was natural to ask questions about his beliefs. We should be able to have a mature discussion of the facts and stop silly postures of political correctness. In England a few years ago after the London subway bombings, some media referred to the terrorists as “South Asians” – technically correct – they were of Pakistani origin, but an obvious way of avoiding the fact that a lot of terrorist activity in the world today is driven by fanatic strains of Islam, not by other “South Asians” such as Hindu or Buddhist Indians. We should be able to frankly discuss characteristics of terrorists and other malcontents like Hassan without having to worry that we will be branded as being intolerant toward Islam or any other category of people that is “protected” by political correctness.

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