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Jewish World Review
Nov. 10, 2009
/ 23 Mar-Cheshvan 5770
The Shrink and the Terrorist
Debra J. Saunders
There have been two views on what happened last week when Maj. Nidal
Malik Hasan opened fire on unarmed military colleagues at Fort Hood,
Texas, killing 12 soldiers and one civilian. The politically correct
version blames a lonely soldier's personal meltdown, precipitated by the
fear of being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. The politically incorrect
view portrays Hasan, the son of Palestinian immigrants, as a homegrown
Islamic terrorist, whether he coordinated with any terrorist groups or
In the end, it may turn out that both views are correct in that Hasan
would not be the first unstable person to immerse himself in an
extremist ideology before he turned his rage on his fellow man. Perhaps
that is how seemingly benign men become terrorists.
I've been hearing from folks who are furious at headlines and reports
that downplay Hasan's religion and focus on his opposition to the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It's astonishing how people have used their political beliefs to recast
this murderous rampage to reflect their politics. New York Times
columnist Bob Herbert, for example, wrote a column Saturday that focused
on the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered by troops who have served
three or four tours of duty unbothered by the fact that Hasan never
served in a war zone.
Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, went on the Sunday
television shows to warn against jumping to conclusions on this case.
That's his job; he must work to prevent a backlash against Muslims
serving their country in the military, often at great personal
sacrifice. Let me add that to view all Muslim troops as suspect or
otherwise attempt to isolate them would be to reward Hasan's attack.
That said, soldiers reported hearing Hasan proclaim "Allahu Akbar"
God is Great as he opened fire. The Associated Press has reported
that law enforcement had investigated whether he posted
pro-suicide-bombing statements online. According to news reports, former
co-workers from Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington complained that
he would not allow his photograph to be taken with women for group
holiday pictures. On Monday, the Washington Post reported on Hasan's
association with a Yemeni al-Qaida promoter who hailed Hasan as "a hero"
and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of
being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own
If the Fort Hood shooter had been a white man who yelled the N-word
before firing, I don't think you would see military brass warning
against a rush to judgment that the shooter was a racist.
I watched the story as it broke Thursday, and I understand why news
anchors hesitated before coming to conclusions on the shooting. After
all, early reports got it wrong it was reported Hasan was dead.
By now, however, it seems pretty clear that Hasan perpetrated what Sen.
Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., called on Fox News possibly "the most
destructive terrorist act to be committed on American soil since 9/11."
And guess what? Most Americans are not stupid they can process that
information with the clear understanding that Hasan does not represent
your average Muslim or your average Muslim serving in the U.S. military.
His own words as he opened fire "Allahu Akbar" and perhaps his
online screeds show who he was. He acted not as a stressed-out shrink,
but a violent and twisted extremist.
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