The West’s Biggest Test

We need to be careful with “remedies” for the problem of Major Nidal Hasan, a criminal who requires prosecution. Religious liberty is indivisible; if the state can threaten it for Muslims is can threaten it for everyone.

The shootings at Fort Hood on 5 November have thrown into strong relief the great conundrum facing the liberal West today:  how to administer freedom of conscience and thought, in the face of an ideological religion that, as practiced by its radical or fundamentalist adherents, is diametrically opposed to those very liberties.

A great many right-wing pundits have made a great many good points in the last few days, about manifold signs of trouble from Major Nidal Hasan, and those signs apparently being ignored by the Army.  Not only did he talk to his colleagues about his intense opposition to the War on Terror, he was fingered by the FBI for comments in an online forum in which he approved the actions of suicide bombers.  Colleagues knew he thought it was profoundly wrong for the US to be in a war with Islamists and to be fighting it in Muslim countries.  The Army knew he had even retained a lawyer to pursue a discharge, and was seeking by every means possible to avoid his impending deployment to Iraq.  These measures capped a career as an Army psychiatrist in which he had received at least one poor efficiency report, and had a history of being hard to get along with.  All these things were known to authorities before he pulled out two weapons and began shooting up his fellow servicemembers.

Yesterday it was reported that Hasan attended the same radical mosque in Great Falls, Virginia that some of the 9/11 attackers attended before 2001; that in fact, his attendance there had overlapped one of the hijackers’ for some amount of time.  Add this to the report by his family that they didn’t even know he was facing a deployment to Iraq – so little did he seem to communicate with them – and this loner starts to sound like one scary dude.

Hasan’s online comments and the interest from the FBI should have cued the Army to take a closer look at this guy.  It’s possible that this particular massacre was preventable, although any experienced military officer knows that prejudging an investigation’s conclusion is always a bad idea.  The Army, after all, will be looking at decision points at which it could have intervened – not at the decision points of the FBI, the local police, the Homeland Security Department, the Congress, the Supreme Court, or Nidal Hasan’s parents, teachers, professors, or clerical counselors.

Yet even if we take a comprehensive view, from out here in the cheap seats, one thing we will see is that the concern about precedent is an especially compelling one at each step of the process. Civil liberties, institutional suspicion, and the state’s attitude toward religion and conscientious objection all have to be administered, in a polity predicated on the rule of law.  It is easy enough to say we know what the right answer is, but much harder to use the tools of the state to come to it.  It’s harder, that is, if we assume that we cannot breach the equality of all before the law.  If we can breach that equality – that changes everything.  And I mean everything:  it changes who we are, what we are about, and our very nature, at the core of our civilizational soul.

We owe ourselves the burden of thinking about Hasan’s situation, as the Army would have seen it.  Here was a very devout worshipper in one of the world’s major recognized religions.  In this sense he is not even close to unique, as a Muslim in the US armed forces.  Many Muslims serve, and the vast majority of them, including the devout, serve without conflict or friction with their fellows.  Any given servicemember’s personal experience with Muslims is most likely to have been positive and unalarming.  Mine was, and most in the military would say the same.  In the wake of 9/11 there was some understandable concern among American Muslims that they might be blamed or treated differently, and as we see with every demographic on earth, some of them had more of an attitude about that than others did – I would say than most did.  But it very rarely developed into anything.  In virtually all situations, such concerns, such resentments and counter-resentments, subsided with time, and with the simple remedy of people in uniform together treating each other right.

Even after the Fort Hood shootings, my sense remains that Muslims can serve honorably and without suspicion in our armed forces.  The kind of jihadist sentiment acted on by Hasan is not pervasive among Muslims in uniform.  I believe Hasan would have stood out as an unusually contentious Muslim, in fact.

I frankly do not believe that he met so much anti-Muslim sentiment that his apparently constant complaints about it were warranted.  If I were investigating the matter, actual evidence could convince me otherwise; but it would be so unusual as to be literally unbelievable, in the absence of specific evidence, for him to have really suffered as he reportedly said he did.  On the other hand, he may well have met rebuffs – ranging from the polite to the less so – if he was regularly proselytizing among his uniformed fellows, in the course of professional contact.  He had to be cautioned against doing that at some points during his career, according to media reporting.  He may have interpreted such refusals to hear the message of Islam as “anti-Muslim” attacks on himself.

Army supervisors were likely to see him as an officer who was somewhat troublesome, largely because of his own personality, with his religion as a perhaps an amplifying factor:  a pretext for taking offense and a vehicle for self-confirmation.  That he was retained in spite of being troublesome, in an administrative sense, is almost certainly due to his being in the Medical Service Corps.  The medical corps of the services look for leadership ability in those actually assigned to leadership positions, but for practitioners who aren’t supervising large numbers of personnel, problematic characteristics are often overlooked.  This can be the case regardless of an individual’s demographic profile; in other words, white males of generic Christian background may benefit from such tolerance as much as anyone else.

In fact, we don’t actually know, at this point, that Hasan practiced psychiatry poorly, in terms of treating patients.  If that had been the case he might have been more likely to be discharged, or at least not assigned to front-line duties.  The fact that he was to be deployed to Iraq suggests that his poor efficiency report(s) was/were due to personal discipline issues – i.e., following orders, maintaining good relations with his peers and contributing to unit morale – rather than to substandard performance of his psychiatric duties.

This is not as uncommon a problem as civilians might think, in the medical service corps of the services.  The great majority of those in medical service observe military discipline and are fine professionals, but if people of subpar disciplinary habits are retained and promoted, they are more likely to be in the medical corps than in any other.  What I want to convey here is that the mere existence of military performance issues is not bizarrely out of character in Hasan’s little corner of the service.  It would not be a red flag that someone was likely to start shooting in a soldier processing center.

So, he is a Muslim, but there are a number of Muslims in the service, and the honorable service of the great majority of them justifies the absence of institutional suspicion under which they serve.  He had bad efficiency marks, but that is not a major distinguishing factor among psychiatrists in the medical service corps.  Neither of these factors would force the Army to a decision point.  How about his request for a discharge – presumably before his obligated service was up – and his determination to avoid going to Iraq, based on opposition to the US policy of waging war on terror?

This was the real forced decision point.  And something the Army always has to consider is the precedent it would set to release someone from his obligated service because he has registered a religious objection to national policy.  There is no evidence Hasan decided he was a conscientious objector to war, per se – that would be a whole different can of worms – but only that he objected to a particular war his country was fighting.  The fact is, soldiers don’t get to do that:  agree to serve, but only in the wars they select.  Once Hasan had retained counsel, it became even more likely that his obtaining a discharge on such a basis would be usable by others as a precedent.  I’m not surprised that the Army wasn’t prepared to grant him a discharge on the pretext he advanced:  you can’t run an army that way.

Where the Army should, on the face of it, have acted is the point at which the FBI identified Hasan as writing approvingly of suicide bombers online.  Of course, the FBI monitoring online forums is a whole separate civil liberties issues, one I won’t argue here.  But assuming that the FBI is going to find such comments, we should take them as seriously as we take bomb jokes made in airports.  Administrative actions I could see taking include having CID as well as the FBI interview Hasan, having them interview his colleagues and associates, having a psych work-up done on Hasan, relieving him of his medical duties for the duration of that process, putting his deployment on hold, and assigning him to hand out basketballs at the sports facility until the Army decided what to do with him.

What the Army should then have decided is something only a fool thinks he knows for sure.  Dealing with people who are in uniquely self-constraining, even self-torturing situations, is much less clear-cut than others are apt to think.  We will never know if earlier intervention would have forestalled the momentum building in Hasan’s mind, or if it would have been like setting a match to a fuse.  What we do know is that all the way up to the moment he pulled out his weapons and began firing, Hasan was a fellow soldier to some, a fellow Muslim to others who have never had the slightest urge to do what he did, and a fellow American to us all.  At no point until he pulled the trigger the first time was he clearly identifiable as “the enemy”:  someone to be dealt with preemptively, as if his purpose had, by definition, to be dangerous and adversarial.

This is the question we have to answer for ourselves, the true test of the values of Western liberalism:  do we believe it is necessary, out of an abundance of caution, to make an earlier designation of “enemy” when it comes to the fellow citizens living among us?  And equally important – indeed, more important – have we fully understood the consequences, and are we really sure we want to pay them?

Whatever we do will set precedents, as surely as the Army would have set a precedent by letting Hasan pick and choose which wars he would fight in, based on his religious ideas.  It sounds very telling and informative, for example, that Hasan attended the same mosque attended by some of the 9/11 attackers.  But what exactly do we do about that?  Hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, have attended that same mosque without becoming terror killers.  Do we – what?  Have the FBI investigate and follow everyone who ever attended there?  Although I imagine some version of that proposition has already been put in operation, the question is really whether attendance at that mosque should be a red flag to the authorities for everyone who ever went there.  Should we have the Army keep track of where its soldiers are attending religious services?  Have it track only Muslims who attend religious services?

Should the Army or FBI track and investigate Christians who attend the same church that an abortion clinic killer may have attended?  Should the Army, eight or ten years later, keep mistrustful tabs on the worship activities of its soldiers who may once have attended the same church where an office-building shooter was a member?  If not, what would be the argument that Muslims ought to be tracked in this manner?  Of course, criminal activities are subject to surveillance and sanction.  But why should the treatment of their religious activities be, in the sense of acting institutionally on suspicion of individuals, unequal before the law?

What kind of society would we be if we accepted such a proposition?  We must think about this first, rather than acting reflexively.  Institutionalizing mistrust of our fellow citizens, based on their religion, is precisely what America was created to avoid.  At the overt political level, most of Europe has joined us in affirming that principle of religious liberty.  It is not one that can be observed selectively.  Once we open the door to institutional mistrust of religion, it is open, and everyone can be shoved through it.  We cannot say that Muslims are suspect because they kill people after going to mosques, but exempt Christians who kill people after going to church.  Well, we can, but we lose all credibility for our proclamations of equality before the law and the rule of law, if we do so.

Certainly there is a difference between what the New Testament of the Bible says and what the Koran says, about those who are not members of the same faith.  But is it really the state’s business to inquire into that?  Are we sure that we want the US Congress or Supreme Court – or the FBI or the Army – to decide which religion is bloodthirsty or tolerant and which one is not?  Indeed, after the long history of shameful treatment of Jews in the West, the appalling treatment Christians have sometimes afforded each other, and the bloody history of internecine warfare among Islamic states, are we now unable to learn any lessons about letting the state adopt attitudes regarding whose religion makes him suspect?

It is so easy to say that Islam can’t be trusted and has to be treated as an enemy quantity in our midst.  But point for point, legal arguments could be made that Christians and Jews have done things that cast suspicion on their religions as well.  Certainly there is a cottage industry today in making precisely that argument for political purposes.  As a Christian, I would of course say that it is un-Christian, and not representative of Christianity, for someone to shoot people at an abortion clinic.  But I don’t expect the legislature or the courts to even express an opinion on that matter, and would be alarmed if they did:  their job is to prosecute and punish the crime, and leave the religious ideas to the individual faithful.

Yet we are already a long way down the road of penalizing religious liberty for the actions of individuals, with “hate crime” legislation.  We can’t afford to go farther.  The legal defense of Christianity, against defamation from the attacks of individuals on homosexuals, is not that Jesus never advocated such attacks.  He didn’t, of course, but the law shouldn’t even inquire into that.  The legal defense of Christianity is that “Christianity” can’t commit attacks at all:  only individuals can.  This is the same defense Islam and Judaism have, and if, in our domestic civil life, it is not valid for all, it is valid for none.

We don’t need to wrongly equate the characters of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity to nevertheless acknowledge that Islam is a monotheistic religion that falls in the category of what the state ought to respect, and whose philosophical and cosmological conclusions it is not competent to judge.  A city may not agree that Muslims should be able to exclude passengers’ dogs from their taxis, but this is not, or should not be, because the city considers itself competent to overrule Islam on the religious question of whether dogs are ritually “unclean.”  The issue for the city is, rather, whether the religious prohibition of one group should be the controlling element in a situation that involves everyone.  As is the case in all such situations, one of the most important considerations is the precedent set by one decision versus another.  What else might Muslims want to prohibit to their fellow citizens, if the city agrees to their de facto enforcement of a “no dogs in my taxi” policy?  If Muslims are allowed such religious enforcements, who else may be?

The devil is always in the details.  We may think we know that there should be more of this and more of that when it comes to our Muslim citizens:  more exclusion, more surveillance, more preemption, more prohibition, more “toughness.”  But those prescriptions cannot be executed by hand-wave.  They involve concrete details:  legislative intentions, standards of proof, legal precepts, governing ideas for implementation.  Each one of those elements could be – could be – interpreted to apply to situations in which we as conservatives don’t want to jeopardize the religious freedom of Christians or Jews.  If the state can act with institutional suspicion against Muslims, what is to stop it from acting with institutional suspicion against Christians or Jews?

The history of the last thousand years should certainly have taught us that there is no group against which governments cannot develop institutional suspicion.  It is yielding to the state the power to act on it that is the fundamental problem, particularly when it comes to matters of conscience, religious thought, and speech.  Giving such power to the state is inherently dangerous, regardless of the form of government, and we should always start with a prejudice against expanding it.  We need have no illusions about Islam as a religion to nevertheless keep very clear in our minds that institutional suspicion, wielded against its adherents by the state, is not a remedy that we can tolerate and remain free ourselves – remain, in other words, who we are.

The red flags about Nidal Hasan were peculiar to him.  It may well be that some of them should have been acted on earlier.  But I would urge other conservatives not to think that it is any sort of “fix,” or a precaution against future Hasans, for American society, the American federal government, or America’s Army to adopt a generically mistrustful posture about a whole segment of our own citizenry.  Down that path lie the persistent, generational evils of Balkanization.

America’s very purpose is to embody the precept that freedom of conscience is indivisible:  a right that cannot be enforced selectively or withheld at will.  We must predicate institutional suspicion on the actionable and directly indicative, like approval of suicide bombings expressed in group forums.  It is not government’s business to decide if Islam is doctrinally homicidal, in a preemptively actionable sense, any more than it is government’s business to decide if Biblical prohibitions on homosexual behavior make Christianity or Orthodox Judaism “intolerant.”  If government is intrusive enough to make it uncomfortable to practice Islam, it is intrusive enough to do the same thing to Judaism and Christianity.  The task of the liberal West is to protect freedom of conscience for all – without losing sight of why that is desirable.  The state can’t be trusted with administering invidious suspicions about our fellows, and if we endow it with such power, that power will, eventually, be turned on us.  We cannot forget why we are “America” in the first place.

80 thoughts on “The West’s Biggest Test”

  1. “Islam is a monotheistic religion that falls in the category of what the state ought to respect” — I recommend taking another look at Major Stephen Coughlin’s 2007 Masters thesis: ‘To Our Great Detriment’ — the dissertation that got him fired from the Bush Pentagon.

    If Islam is indeed “doctrinally homicidal”, then it is the duty of government to recognize that fact and act accordingly. If it fails to do so then, eventually, the governed will — and their recognition will be made manifest with pitchforks and gasoline rather than FBI interviews and bans on immigration.

    1. Why don’t you just sum up this homicidal stuff so’s the pitchforkers don’t get eyestrain.
      And can you explain why this thesis got the Major fired? (do you mean like with gasoline fired ?)

      Nice post, opticon.

      1. The phrase “doctrinally homicidal” originates with our host, not me. Which is why it appears in quotes. If you are asking me to summarise Coughlin’s 333 page dissertation in a blog comment to save you from eyestrain, then my response is “no”. And if you want to know about the circumstances under which Coughlin left the Pentagon, then you need to equip yourself with a copy of this.

  2. “Colleagues knew he thought it was profoundly wrong for the US to be in a war with Islamists and to be fighting it in Muslim countries.”

    I’m going to make a comment on the periphery here. We’ve heard the absurd argument that America went into Iraq and Afghanistan so as to kill (any) Muslims. Presumably this is what Hasan felt as well. To this I posit this question:

    “Can you name one person, in all of human history, who has killed more Muslims than Saddam Hussein?”

    Since I believe the answer is “no,” this should discredit the assertion that we’re fighting to kill just run of the mill Muslims. However, Muslims that harbor these beliefs are not rational. Or at least not rational in the sense that we Westerners define the word. *Westerners* that harbor these beliefs (almost exclusively from the left) should not be permitted to make such claims without being vigorously refuted.

    You spell out very clearly J.E. how complicated it is to actually do anything that would extract Hasan from his position in the military without compromising our values or setting a bad precedent. At the very least though we should call out those pundits who, reflexively it seems, contort themselves to explain away actions like Hasan’s as anything BUT Islamic terrorism. Especially when there is lots of evidence suggesting that’s exactly what it was. It’s now a cliche, but such thinking is a “9/10 attitude.” And dangerously naive if you ask me.

  3. Sen. Joe Lieberman is opening an investigation on Hasan’s Army career. I think that it is important that he does. The public needs to be updated on how the U.S. armed services follows through. It’s very easy to demonize the Army’s function in our society. I thought President Obama’s 2 minute plus shout out routine before he spoke to America on the situation at Fort Hood just plain weird, didn’t make me feel confident in any ones leadership, his or the army’s. I’m personally fed up with the psycho babble routine after criminal activity, murder is a criminal activity.I got to know personally a family of Shia Muslims from Pakistan. One of the most normal families I’ve ever met. People I know are not questioning whether Muslims are normal folk but whether the command structure of the Army is staffed with incompetents, hence in my view the need for congressional investigations.

  4. As a (sometimes) trenchant critic of your analysis on various issues let me be the first to commend you on a commentary which is calm, sensible, and reflects the tolerant values that have made our nation great and free.

  5. Have to add another comment about the difference between talk therapists and psychiatrists, the psychiatrist as an M.D. can prescribe drugs. Was Dr. Hasan a prescription drug abuser? Was he under the influence of such drugs at the time of the shootings? Without a congressional inquiry into the full circumstances will the American people ever know?

  6. Rush Limbaugh thinks that he can shed light on the influences upon the Major and Limbaugh would be a fine person to comment upon abuse of prescription medication.

  7. While my back was turned, fuster, WordPress seems to have taken exception to your “the Major and Limbaugh” comment, and presented it to me as spam. I think it’s because of the words “prescription” and “drugs” occurring, quite flagrantly, right next to each other.

    That’ll learn you to indulge in snark vis-a-vis the great Limbaugh.

    1. Thanks for the explanation,opticon.
      I found it exceptionally odd that my comment was bounced from a post that I found entirely admirable.

      (I assume your use of the word great was in reference to his mass and not his transgressions.)

  8. A.Reader — I do want to make it clear that I don’t approve of political correctness that prevents organizations from taking action on obvious red flags, like Hasan’s online comments, his history of opposing the war on terror as a crime against Muslims, and now, apparently, his emails to associates of al Qaeda.

    I’m not as convinced as others that it was a sort of down-the-line P.C. that caused cognizant authorities to ignore the red flags. I suspect it was more a case of the institutional mentality not having adjusted from a pre-9/11 baseline. In the Army, that had to be partly because most Muslims serve without incident. I do think we’re probably going to find that there were things that should have been acted on, but I would urge civilians not to think they know for sure why the course of events went as it did. I’m a big fan of Michelle Malkin, for example, but she hasn’t been in uniform in the last couple of decades, and she doesn’t really understand, I think, that most of the time, “Muslims” in the service are just other people you serve with. You don’t have to be “PC” to not be suspicious of them, you just have to be a normal human being.

    That doesn’t in any way mean that red flags should be ignored, nor does it excuse ignoring them. Hasan seems to have been a walking neon sign, not because he was a Muslim but because of a growing list of other ridiculously obvious indicators, things that pertain to him but not to all Muslims in the service.

    One comment on Hasan’s contacts with the associates of AQ: the media are saying that it was CIA that was aware of these contacts. At least, they were a few hours ago. What folks need to understand is that CIA isn’t chartered to collect that information on US citizens (Hasan is a native-born American). Assuming it WAS CIA that had the info, the Agency collected it in the course of surveillance against the AQ hangers-on. Obviously, when you conduct surveillance of some parties’ communications, you will learn who is in contact with them. There are standards for handling the incidental information about US citizens gained from this sort of surveillance, and there is careful circumscription of the latitude for using it in law enforcement actions.

    This makes sense when we consider that CIA is not constrained by the US Constitution in its surveillance of foreign entities. It needs no judicially-sanctioned “probable cause” to collect intelligence, and therefore has been explicitly prevented from collecting it against US persons since 1977. When the names of US persons come up in CIA-collected intelligence, there is a standard for how they are handled, and very strict limitations on further use of the information about them. (Bad guys talk to a whole lot of people, and many of them have no connection with the criminal or threatening enterprise.)

    Not knowing the particulars of this case, I can’t speak specifically to who knew what about Hasan several months ago (indeed, if I did know, I couldn’t tell you!). But there may have been legitimate roadblocks to CIA information being handed over to law enforcement. I’d think long and hard about reflexively deciding that we don’t need those roadblocks in place. Do we really want CIA collecting information on US citizens and handing it over to other executive entities? Think carefully before you answer that.

    In fact, I urge all of you to give this question your full attention, because it’s the crux of the matter. This, right here, is the “test of the West,” winnowed down to concrete terms. It may well be that the CIA knew Army Major Nidal Hasan emailed associates of AQ; because it was watching the associates — not Hasan. Hasan has been a “US person” his entire life, his rights against unlawful surveillance fully protected by the US Constitution, like yours and mine.

    SHOULD we weaken the protection of his rights because of who he is, and which parties he was in contact with? If we do that, what will be our justification for applying that decision to him but not others? How will we be sure that the weakening of this protection won’t affect us?

    Would you trust Barack Obama’s administration to handle this “gray area” of CIA intelligence collection and civil rights, if the 30-year-old controls were weakened? Richard Nixon’s? Bill Clinton’s? LBJ’s?

    I note that this isn’t an either-or proposition, in the sense that EITHER we weaken protection of our civil rights against CIA intelligence collection, OR we must suffer all the attacks Muslim jihadists want to mount. Before we’d heard anything about CIA and the emails to AQ associates, we had heard enough for most of us — certainly for me — to have decided to investigate Hasan on. I wouldn’t have needed the info from the CIA; the other red flags would have been enough.

    But the day is probably already here (we just aren’t aware of it yet) when such incidental CIA info IS the only thing we have on someone like Nidal Hasan. Should we relax the controls on use of that information, and use it for law enforcement purposes? Right now it doesn’t hold up in court, because it wasn’t obtained in a constitutional manner. Should it? If we decide to break it loose as legitimate law enforcement info, where does that end? How does it not come back to haunt you and me?

    Ultimately, CAN we give the Muslims in our midst the same presumptive rights against misuse of government power that everyone else has — and survive? But if we don’t, who and what do we become, and will it be worth fighting to preserve?

  9. Thanks opticon. A thoughtful and thought provoking article.

    I have to give a great deal of thought to equating fundamentalist Islam (which requires belief in and submission to the literal meaning of the verse of the sword among other similar things) with other religions that clearly teach or at least admit the possibility of tolerance, even if some of their adherents don’t practice tolerance.

    You used as example the (pair of) abortion clinic killers, for instance. Terrible men who carried out unforgivable crimes; but they stand out and are used as exemplars precisely because it’s hard to find other incidents in which clearly devout Jews, Christians, Hindus, or Buddhists have done anything approaching the equivalent of screaming a religious war cry while conducting a murder in the U.S. in the modern age.

  10. J.E., what impact does a dishonorable discharge have on a person once they are fully out of the military? Once Hasan’s sentiments and online postings became known, would a dishonorable discharge have caused him enough grief so as to make his post-military life significantly unpleasant? I know he didn’t want to be deployed to Iraq and he probably would have been happy about THAT part of a DD. However, I need someone who knows about these things to explain to this layman how a DD tangibly impacts someone.

    I ask this because I wonder if a DD is the best way to treat a situation like this one (where the person openly sympathizes with the enemy and against America). Could he have been sent on his way and then put on some FBI watch list and hopefully snagged before shooting anyone up? Does one even still retain the right to bear arms after a DD?

    As for your question about how to balance safety and civil rights – that’s a tough one. Typically I’d lean towards giving the intelligence community a little more leeway to protect us. However, I’m appalled at how much the govt has become such a factor in our lives that the thought of giving the govt more such influence makes me leery. I’d be more comfortable giving the intelligence community more leeway during a Republican presidency I think. Generally speaking, Republicans are more likely to have libertarian leanings and not be as tempted to overstep the bounds and snoop on, let’s say, political opponents (unless said President is named Nixon). Maybe something can be worked out where I get to decide how far our intelligence community can go. I think that’s a fair compromise.

    1. fuster, as opticon pointed out in the article, you can’t run an army if you allow people to opt out of their contracted enlistment at will. This guy got major educational benefits by signing on. To let him opt out without cost is a betrayal of everyone who carries out their commitments.

  11. Perhaps another comment on the the intelligence/civil rights discussion. We, as a country, seemed to have survived things after violating the civil rights of Japanese Americans with FDR’s internment camps (easy for me to say as I was not one of those Japanese Americans). I’m not quite sure about the parallels of fighting a traditional style war in the 40’s and the type of war we’re fighting today, but I can’t imagine we’d ever get to the point again where were we’d go so far as to corral a whole group of people (Muslims this time around) and put them in “camps” of one sort or another.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that we institute any sort of policy. I say this just to point out that we as a country shook off that 1940’s civil liberties stain pretty well I think. If history is any guide, we could similarly shake off a watered down modern day version of civil rights infringements (in whatever manifestation they happen to come in). Again, I’m not suggesting here that we do any such thing. I’m just pointing out that we’ve heavily infringed on a particular group’s civil liberties in the past and managed not to destroy ourselves in the process.

    This all may be a non-sequitur though. The whole argument could be apples/oranges as WWII and today’s fight are different and the mentality of the country has changed between the 1940’s and now. The thought just occurred to me and I typed it up.

    1. It´s a good point. We are always lectured about the values that made our nation great and free. The truth is that in the past we did shocking and (with hindsight) sometimes unnecessary things, but we also won our wars.

      On the other hand, the break with our perception of what we represent would be far greater today than it was in FDR´s progressive America. Every conservative should welcome the fact that autocratic acts by the government face a higher hurdle today. To institute such a policy today with majority consent would require extremely dire circumstances.

      Besides, the punishment for committing that sort of collective injustice is that we beat ourselves up about it for decades. Who wants to face the deluge of whiny books and movies and songs?

  12. fuster, I know. But the military can’t just let people out of their military commitments because they simply want out. What kind of precedent would that set? How many people would join the military for the benefits it might bestow upon them, and then jump ship when war time came?

    I’m wondering if a DD is painful enough that the military could purge the Hasans in its midst without basically handing them their original wish of a discharge. If someone gets a DD and 6 months later it has absolutely no negative impact on him, then it’s barely more than a slap on the wrist. If a DD is something that dogs you for the rest of your life, then maybe that’s a sufficient way to purge the Hasans before they start shooting up their mates.

  13. He shouldn’t be in the Army, and we would kick him out in a flash except for the fact that he wants to get out of the Army.

    See Heller, Joseph.

    also see Phyrrus

  14. Sully — I agree that philosophically, theologically, and doctrinally there are key differences between Islam, on the one hand, and Christianity and Judaism on the other. I don’t advocate self-deception in that regard, or covering up of the truth.

    But the question we still have to ask ourselves is whether we want to cede the government the power to discriminate between the religions based on their texts. I see that as a very, very dangerous proposition.

    The crossroads we have reached, I think, is a most profound philosophical one for the West, and has to do with our reliance on secular government to “protect” us and be THE guarantor of a quality of life for us. Islam is showing us that the secular government we have come to rely on reflexively is stumped, before Islam’s very different set of core assumptions.

    It’s the problem of our age. But we must solve it: some factions of Islam will continue to be armed, and represent danger to our way of life.

  15. RE — I see where you’re going with the DD. It wouldn’t ordinarily be considered for a situation like Hasan’s (prior, of course, to his shooting rampage). It does stay with one over time for some applications, as it will show up in routine law enforcement record checks. It can affect bondability for jobs requiring that, the ability to purchase firearms legally in some states, etc.

    You can’t just give someone a DD because he’s a jerk, though. It has to be justified by actual bad conduct — serious violations of the UCMJ. A less onerous option is the bad conduct discharge (BCD), which ensues on less severe violations of the UCMJ (generally, things that are not felonies but torts in civil law). Administrative discharges can also be made on “other than honorable” conditions, a kind of catch-all for a variety of problems. An OTH discharge will mainly affect prospects for government employment after military service, as the “record of service” document — the DD-214 — is particularly important to that opportunity.

    I don’t know if an OTH would have been justifiable in Hasan’s case prior to the shooting rampage. I’d have to be familiar with his whole record. It does take some horsepower to give someone an OTH, though. Most discharges for the mutual convenience of the service and an unsatisfactory member are simply admin discharges under honorable circumstances, with the member’s penalty being that he’s out of the service with next to no benefits.

    Hasan, of course, had obligated service to pay back, in exchange for the Army having funded his education. DOD is absolutely right that you can’t just let people go because they start acting up, when they still have obligated service on the books. It sounds like Hasan may have done more than start, at some point, acting up — like maybe he was (as we say in the service) “not Army material” from way back.

    They have a very fine, well-respected ROTC organization at Virginia Tech, so I wouldn’t automatically make prejudicial assumptions about his accession through it. I plan to wait until we have learned everything we really need to know, to assess why decisions were made about Hasan the way they were.

    A note about internment of the Japanese during WWII: that was a different kind of war. It was a war we knew would be effectively over when Japan was defeated, in the classic military-political sense. There is no nation-state we can defeat today, to be sure that radicalized Muslims have nothing to rally around, or no ideological cause to fight for. Even the period of ascendant Marxism was an easier one in that sense, because it did make a very great difference for the Soviet Union to break up and be no more.

    But inflicting decisive political defeat on specific nation-states doesn’t obviate the need to be wary of radical Islamism in our midst. After V-J Day, we didn’t feel an internal threat from Japanese Americans, but there is no nation-state defeat that would change that sense for us regarding radical Muslim jihadists. For that reason, I don’t see the internment of Japanese as a valid analogy.

  16. Thanks a lot J.E. for explaining the various discharge options employed by the military. I wonder if it’s worth it to change the rules some so that the military could discharge (with some pain) people like Hasan who pretty clearly sympathize with the enemy. It may not be a great device, but it may be a slightly better than bad idea.

    In regards to defending ourselves from the enemy, I thought about the difference between fighting the *country* of Japan and the “non-country” jihadist entities we’re fighting today and came to the same conclusion that you did. My larger point was that America survived the serious abrogation of the civil liberties of a group of Americans once. It may just as easily survive doing so again. How such an abrogation would manifest itself today vs today’s enemy, I have no idea. And I’m not suggesting we should institute any drastic measures (whatever they may be). El Gordo is right. It’s probably not worth all the sure to come whiny books, etc… anyway.

    “I’m certainly not suggesting that we institute any sort of policy.”

    Bad first sentence of the second paragraph from my 5AM post. “I’m certainly not suggesting that we institute any *such* policy” is how it should have read.

    Are you going to send me to the brig for that one J.E.?

  17. Most of the many mass-killings in this country haven’t been carried out by Moslems. Usually they are carried out by people who are unhinged. Sometimes (though seldom) by fanatics like Timothy McVeigh.

    It is quite likely that this soldier became deranged because he was unable to cope psychologically with the prospect of a posting to a war he had come to loath obsessively because of his background. It is easy to be wise after the event, but it is still difficult to understand why the army failed to pick up on the signs of the man’s psychological disintegration.

    The other question we should be asking is why do we make it so easy for deranged people to get guns in this country.

    1. “The other question we should be asking is why do we make it so easy for deranged people to get guns in this country.”

      That really needed to be quoted, peterwise, for it may well be the most disingenuous sentence I’ve ever seen given the context.

      Other than by instituting a comprehensive ban on sale and possession backed with draconian penalties, precisely how would you suggest making it less “easy” for a U.S. Army Major in good standing, one who is furthermore a licensed psychiatrist regularly counselling very troubled unhospitalized patients, to “get” a pair of guns?

      I’d really like to see your answer.

      1. Yes, if “the army failed to pick up on the signs of the man’s psychological disintegration” then it follows they did not see him as deranged. Instead of looking for a solution to that problem it´s only logical for the liberal mind to punish the vast majority of responsible gun owners while defending the vast majority of nonviolent muslims. You will find again and again that some “vast majorities” are more equal than others when the obsession with race, class and gender is given free reign.

      2. It is easy for deranged persons to get guns in the US because it is easy for everyone to get guns. However, the price we pay for people being allowed to buy weaponary which has no other purpose than to kill other human beings (FN pistols, assault-weapons etc.) is these sort of incidents. We also pay the price in the considerable number of our children who are victims of gun accidents – usually the fault of negligent gun-owners (often their own parents) who fail to secure their self-indulgent weaponary. Far more innocent people are killed and maimed because of gun-accidents than are felons successfully interdicted in the course of crime.
        We should at least make the production of an insurance policy covering gun-accidents a condition of the purchase of these weapons. The first thing the insurance companies would do (to protect themselves) would be to require medical certs and a statement of good character from the cops to certify that the proposer for insurance wasn’t either mad or bad. That would at least cut down the carnage.
        Of course, Hasan, deranged and sending out warning signals to anyone who would take heed, would probably have eluded any such scrutiny because no one took heed. That is down to a failure of communications between the civilian and military authorities.

      3. There peterwise, don’t you feel better now that you have delivered your irrelevent to the issue at hand gun lecture? Think of all the time you could have saved if you had just delivered that in the first place rather than trying to tie the issue to Major Hasan.

        But I do have to give you a tip of the hat for not trying to weasel out of that fact that virtually no conceivable gun law would have stopped Major Hasan from acquiring a weapon. And, of course, even if some miraculous law had done that, he could well have done a shoot-em-up at the range the next time he went for live firing, although there he probably couldn’t have killed and wounded as many. Or he could have waited until he got to Afghanistan or Iraq and managed to lay his hands on a grenade.

  18. Since my initial comment was posted, both Diana West and Andrew McCarthy have published pieces that note Stephen McCoughlin’s relevance to this episode. McCarthy, the lead prosecutor in the Blind Sheikh case, points out that, in a rational world: “We’d have to start acknowledging that Salafist ideology (the strain of Islam endorsed by the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni terrorist organizations) is prevalent in American mosques. We’d have to concede that beliefs we optimistically call ‘radical’ are actually quite mainstream among American Muslims and predominant among Muslims overseas — including the beliefs that sharia (the law of Islam) should govern the United States, that Muslims must resist American military and law-enforcement operations against other Muslims, that the U.S. military presence in Islamic countries renders American soldiers and those who support them legitimate targets of jihadist terror”.

    And Andrew Bostom has been through Hasan’s 2007 PowerPoint presentation and shows that the content is consistent with classical and mainstream Islamic thought. He concludes as follows: “Our self-righteously ignorant elites—particularly those in political and military leadership positions—must be held accountable by the American public for their ignorance, and worse still, deliberate obfuscation of these plain Islamic realities.”

  19. Personally, peterwise, I don’t think Hasan was truly and clinically deranged. I think he was quite rational if you look at him through the eyes of a Muslim extremist. He might be “deranged” in the sense of how we Westerners casually use the word, but not in a truly psychological sense. My guess is that if Hasan was not a Muslim, this murderous rampage would not have happened.

    1. It’s at least as likely that Hasan’s actions are attributable to his being a psychiatrist as a Muslim, Ritchie.
      If you look at his action through the lens of psychiatric practice, how do you feel about it then?

      1. Point well taken fuster. Everybody knows psychiatrists are as volatile as rabid foxes, as quick to strike as pit vipers and as tenacious on the attack as pit bulls.

        I always plan my driving routes so as to pass well clear of mental hospitals, clinical office buildings and medical schools where they congregate.

      2. Don’t understand if this response will indent under the previous string,but… What is odd about Dr. Hasan ,even for a psychiatrist , is that he acted out by killing others. If Dr. Hasan was depressed from the type of cases his practice involved statistically speaking he should have just committed suicide. Plenty of data exists on the high suicide rate among psychiatrists. So on a bell shaped curve of psychiatrists, Hasan is definitely on the outer limits. All roads lead back to why didn’t this man’s superiors remove him from practicing in military hospitals. What a sad blight on Walter Reed as a research and training center.

    2. It is obvious with hindsight that Hasan was extremely disturbed in the last months before these shootings and that he was becoming unhinged. He didn’t go on the rampage because he was a Moslem. He became deranged because he couldn’t handle the conflict which was rooted in his religious identity. There is a world of difference. To posit this lone (and lonely) individual as the precurser of jihad is the stuff of fantasy – except to those whose agendas are to demonize Moslems generally.

      We have been here before, of course. Americans, as an immigrant people, have hyphenated identities which often give rise to accusations of disloyalty by those who are in the demonization business. During the early days of the cold war when espionage paranoia was rife, there was much public and private concern as to the loyalty of Jewish-Americans because many of the atom-spies happened to be Jewish. This anti-semitic demonization didn’t just disapear, and when Sen. Lieberman ran for Veep on the Democrat ticket there was a cacophony of behind-the-hand whispering that his first loyalty was to Israel.

      I think we can rest easily in our beds without fear of an Islamic revolution in the West. When the Moslem v Christian body-count is added up we Christians are in an unassailable lead.

    3. That is the point I forgot to address earlier. The act was carefully premediated, in line with carefully pronounced convictions of a religious-political nature. In the end, what is the difference between Hasan and your average IRA or Brigade Rosso terrorist? Mainly the suicide aspect. He didn´t plan on getting away. If he had planted a bomb or robbed a bank for Allah I doubt anyone would call him crazy based on his words and acts leading up to the attack. But suicide attacks are no longer rare and not even confined to muslims (the Tamil Tigers used it). It is facile to declare their perpetrators deranged. Sure, he was conflicted, under psychological pressure, but which terrorist isn´t?

  20. The problem is consistent with what we have dealt with in the political realm with the Communist Party. That wasn’t a nation state but a philosophy. And by the way, a philosophy in direct conflict with the US Constitution.

    It seems to me that the practitioners of the Islamic faith in the US are quickly coming to a crossroads, and I am afraid of this being brought to a head by the citizenry of the country rather than its governing elites.

    The texts of Islam are quite plainly in conflict with the US political system. There are no render unto Caeser that which is Caeser’s lines in the Islamic scriptures. That is why McCarthy’s writings are so difficult to comprehend for most people. He has been given a glimpse into the real workings of the faith by a substantial minority of its adherants. They are our enemy, and wish to destroy us and our way of life – submit or be destroyed or diminished.

    “We’d have to start acknowledging that Salafist ideology (the strain of Islam endorsed by the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni terrorist organizations) is prevalent in American mosques.”

    This quote suggests that we must work to eliminate this branch of Islam in the US, whether you are a US citizen or not. If you are a follower, you are an enemy and should be imprisoned or deported. The shooter had tell tale signs (he considered himself Palestinian before US although a native born US citizen for instance) and his position in the US military means by definition he is subject to a different legal code and due a different interpretation of civil liberties than a civilian. I don’t see this as difficult of a leap as the poster does. The means to do this are available legislatively if we choose them. This is of a same line as we have a right to free speech but not to yell fire in a crowded theater if no fire exists.

    Radical Islam has demonstrated itself to be anti-US. The practitioners of this faith must be prepared to purge themselves of this strain before the work is done for them.

  21. “It’s at least as likely that Hasan’s actions are attributable to his being a psychiatrist as a Muslim, Ritchie.
    If you look at his action through the lens of psychiatric practice, how do you feel about it then?”

    fuster, Sully and Orcas answered this pretty well. I do not agree in the least that Hasan’s actions can be attributable to his being a psychiatrist. So, I feel exactly the same way today as I did yesterday about his actions.

    I often don’t quite understand the progressive mind. Why do progressives sometimes twist themselves into a pretzel in an attempt to excuse (either partially or fully) an act like Hasan’s with references to his line of work (psychiatrist), his alleged mistreatment (by fellow soldiers, which I think is a bunch of BS), his vehement opposition to Iraq/Afghanistan (the Code Pinkers feel the same way, but I don’t see them shooting people up), stress at the prospects of being deployed (1000’s of soldiers/marines have the same stress)?

    Why all this when there is, as far as we have heard, overwhelming evidence that he committed this murder to fulfill his jihadist dreams (“allah akbar,” several communications with a known al-Qaeda operative, voiced opposition to the wars because they’re “against” Muslims). It baffles me. I can only assume that the urge to shape events so they fit into the progressive wordlview overwhelms all else. No matter that the “square” of reality can’t fit into the “circle” of the progressive worldview.

    1. I’m sorry that you took my response as being fully in earnest, Ritchie.
      What I might have said was that I meant that Hasan’s actions are likely attributable to himself for the most part and, far from being a jihadist, he was some bucked-up wannabe nutcase.
      It’s not any twisted denial of reality to want to separate the sheep from the goats. I understand your disgust at people thinking that there is no organized threat from Islamic terror but I want to draw a clear picture that the terrorists are not at all predominant amongst people practicing Islam.
      If we fail at this point to make that distinction and if we treat millions of citizens as being responsible for this man’s actions, we invite greater trouble than the trouble we have already in dealing with the truly dangerous.

      1. Point taken fuster. I should make clear that I in no
        way accuse all Muslims for the transgressions of a
        few. The majority of them are decent upstanding
        citizens. Many others, while they may “sympathize”
        to one degree or another with the radicals, would
        never do anything tangible to support the radicals.
        It’s just the jihadists who see it as a duty to lop off
        your head and mine who I have a small quibble with.
        There are too many of these folks in our midst on
        this planet earth. We need fewer of them.

        And while you’re right about not all terrorists are
        of the Islamic faith, 99.5% of them are. And they
        are the only ones who I’m concerned about. The
        terrorist who bombs abortion clinics is a threat to
        abortion clinics (and those in them at the time).
        That’s about it. Islamic terrorists have grander
        aims. Like killing me simply because I’m American
        and replacing the society and way of life I’ve
        grown to love with something that is, shall we
        say, somewhat less tolerant.

      2. fuster, You mean you didn’t purposely write that psychiatrist line as a setup for me? It was a very juicy setup. Almost as good as the dumb gun control lament peterwise made.

  22. I’ll take what I can get, but, not to alarm you, that 99.5% number isn’t really accurate. There are a lot of very criminally crazy people out there.

  23. fuster, I still feel your line of thought is the problem. You are choosing to not accept the reality of what modern day Islam is. The people who will actually take it upon themselves to perform the jihadist act is certainly in the minority, but the teaching is much more prevalent than many wish to acknowledge. I have no need for a Un-American Beliefs Committee (and yes, the Soviets actually were attempting to penetrate the US, but that is another story), but I do need an acknowledgement by the political elites that the Islamic faith as practiced by a significant portion of its followers feels our good major did nothing wrong. That would be a start. Perhaps that would give the reformation minded Muslims a chance in the modernization of their faith.

  24. JEM, I guess my line of thought is going to remain faulty until someone can show my poor addled self that today’s modern day Islam is something that advocates the murder of non-believers or even shrugs off such things.
    There’s no mistaking that there are far too many ignorant people thinking that other people must be enemies, and far too many of them are willing to act against those supposed enemies.
    Some of those folks act that way toward us, and we’re need to either stop them or send them on their way, but we must choose our targets with much greater care than they do.

    1. fuster, I think you’re conflating things that cannot be conflated. We are not, by and large, concerned with “modern day Islam.” What we’re concerned with is the 7th century Islam that bin Laden et al preach and practice. The modern day Muslims, who I suppose became moderate after centuries of Christian and Enlightenment ascendance at the expense of radical Islam, are heretical to the bin Ladens of the world. The Koran, like any religious text, has passages that preach peace and passages that preach violence. The moderates focus on the peace aspects of course. However, there are far more passages in the Koran that say to chop the other guys’ head off. There may be more moderate Muslims in our midst, but you don’t need an overwhelming majority of 7th century Muslims for their extremism to significantly and negatively impact us in America or the West.

      I’ll see if I can find some links.

      1. Ritchie, thanks for any links showing that great masses are fundies.

        The “modern day” is JEMs phrase urging that I understand that there are now great percentages of Islamic practitioners being pulled back to fundamentalist violence.

      2. fuster I make no great claim – the pull is as it ever was. I have yet to see the reformation of the Islamic faith, although I will confess I am not in the best position to judge. As to what the faith says, it seems to revolve on whether you regard Muhammad’s earlier teachings or later ones (the later ones are much more ummm… violent). While I can confess no ability to translate the original texts anymore than I can the original biblical ones, I can read enough to realize that the Islamic faith is predicated on a particular desire to force itself upon the non-believers in a manner that would make the Spanish Inquisition blush.

  25. fuster, Here’s a couple of links. The first one is from 2006, so a little dated. But still pretty telling if you ask me (even after bin Laden’s popularity has diminished).

    http://eye-on-the-world.blogspot.com/2006/09/al-jazeera-poll-499-of-muslims-support.html

    Here’s another article you may find interesting. It’s by Raymond Ibrahim. He writes really good stuff about the topic we’ve been discussing today.

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2008/10/raymond-ibrahim-islam-and-innocence.html#more

    1. Thanks for the links. I’m not really sure what to make of the first one. I’ve concerns about the reliability of anything associated with Al Jazeera, and those are some pretty odd questions, seemingly designed mostly to produce a condemnation of the war in Iraq.
      Of most interest, was the question about bin Laden. I wish that there was some better idea of what “support” might mean.
      I would be very open to seeing something similar and recent in order to see where that support now stands.

      1. fuster, As I mentioned before, it’s not imperative for there to be majority of bin Laden believing Muslims for there to be horrific acts perpetrated upon us. 9/11 was a pretty good indicator of that. If that survey is not entirely reliable, it has to at least be disconcerting. It mentioned 49% of Muslims who “support” bin Laden. Surely most of those would not be prepared to don the suicide belt to take out some infidels. Nor would they even necessarily want someone else to do it. But let’s say that just .001% of those Muslims fully support bin Laden and are full blown al-Qaeda types. That’s over a million people. And that says nothing of those who will silently acquiesce (either through sympathy or fear) to the jihadists, thus providing the jihadists breathing room to plot and plan. Kind of like Afghanistan was when the Taliban was running the show. And not unlike what the Pakistani army is trying to purge from parts of that country. What happens if a handful of these guys get their hands on a nuke or biological/chemical weapon (Pakistan is the most likely place for this to happen I figure)? The intelligence services are going to identify every threat in time…

  26. One of the problems is determining just what it is that Muslims believe. There are Muslim soldiers who serve honorably in the US Armed Forces, and there are the MAJ Hasans.

    There is no unitary authority for defining Muslim beliefs. Both the “moderate” Muslims and the bug-eyed, screaming homicidal jihadists claim to be following the Koran. So, who is correct? It is impossible to know. We could examine the Koran and find support for both views. Of course, we would have to learn Arabic, since no translation is deemed authoritative. Even if we became fluent in Arabic, we could be no better off than the Muslim clerics themselves, who disagree on doctrine.

    A further problem is our core value of religious liberty. Many years ago, our Supreme Court basically decided that you can believe in polygamy. But you can’t have more than one wife. The corollary today is that you can believe in violent jihad, you just can’t engage in it.

    A rational society would find a way to minimize its risk that belief will translate into action — at least when the action is greatly more damaging than somebody living with two “wives.”

    You could show mathematically that people devoted to a diet of junk food are more likely to be obese. You could show that people fed a diet of certain strands of Islam are more likely to engage in acts of terrorism. Is this enough to act? By today’s law, probably not. Perhaps we need a change in that law.

    In the past, the military has enjoyed a limited exception from the requirements to observe the same civil liberties accorded citizens in a non-military environment. It makes sense in the military and national security context to give greater scrutiny to persons who profess religious beliefs that historically have been associated with acts of violence against this country.

    Service in the military is not a right. It is a privilege.

    We may find out whether the Constitution is a suicide pact.*

    *(See opnion of Justice Goldberg in Kennedy v. Martinez-Mendoze: “The Constitution is silent about the permissibility of involuntary forfeiture of citizenship rights. While it confirms citizenship rights, plainly there are imperative obligations of citizenship, performance of which Congress in the exercise of its powers may constitutionally exact. One of the most important of these is to serve the country in time of war and national emergency. The powers of Congress to require military service for the common defense are broad and far-reaching, for while the Constitution protects against invasions of individual rights, it is not a suicide pact. Similarly, Congress has broad power under the Necessary and Proper Clause to enact legislation for the regulation of foreign affairs. Latitude in this area is necessary to ensure effectuation of this indispensable function of government.”)

    1. We also have moderate Christians and the bug-eyed screaming fundamentalist types who are to the forefront of demonizing Moslems as Moslems.

      1. And, peterwise, we also have folks who are so determined to remain in denial that their eyes will still be firmly clenched shut when their heads roll into the basket.

        But I have to wonder how you would classify the writer of a paragraph that read:

        “We also have moderate Muslims and the bug-eyed screaming fundamentalist types who are to the forefront of demonizing Christians as Christians.”

        Nah, I don’t really have to wonder.

      2. I would classify it equally as a fair statement of the reality that there are Moslem fanatics who are violent and intolerant.

        There is some really wild nonsense in this thread. One of the wildest is the statement that 99.5% of terrorists are Moslems.

        The Real IRA, and ETA? What about the Tamil Tigers, the inventors of the suicide bomb? What about the Sihk separatists and thir fanatical Hindu counterparts who blew up the Golden Temple at Amritsar?

        There is also the thorny question of one man’s terrorist being another man’s freedom fighter. Some of the most effective (and vicious) terror organizations have been the IRA, the Contras, and the Stern Gang – all of whom were funded by remittances from the good ol’ USA. Hizbullah, Hamas, and the like are mere amateurs in this company. And what do you tell people who live in states which have discriminatory laws which exclude them from legal recorse when their property is stolen by the dominant tribe? I’m referring here of course to the Christian terrorists/rebels in Darfur who were being dispossessed by the Moslem majority, and when they fought back with “terrorism”, were brutally suppressed by Sudanese government forces using modern battlefield weaponary against a largely civilian population (albeit with some terrorists in their midst).

        Any why use terror at all when you can take out tens of thousands of men women and children indiscriminately from eight miles high and not be called a terrorist at all?

        Funny old world!

  27. Sorry, Sully, that I failed to think of you while writing about the failings of psychiatry and it’s practitioners.

    I wonder why that was. Maybe we should explore it further next time.

  28. peterwise, my 99.5% terrorist statement was more to make a point than to show mathematical precision. Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say that “99.5%” of terrorist ACTS are committed by Muslims. If that’s not mathematically concise, then perhaps “99.5%” of terrorist acts that are aimed against America/The West and that are part of a desire to implement sharia law across the planet are committed by jihadist Muslims.

    I’m not particularly concerned with the Tamil Tigers, ETA, IRA, FARC, etc… – as bad as they are and as much as they deserve a kick in the teeth. They are fighting their regional battles. They are not going to kill 3,000 of my countrymen by hijacking planes. They are not going to attempt to impose sharia law on me or saw my head off or simply kill me for being me.

    If you want to discredit my earlier post for the “99.5%” aspect of it, then very well. But I ask that you look at it in the context of the broader point I was making and not as a rigid mathematical fact.

    1. I was merely pointing out that the statement you made, taken on face value, was utterly inaccurate.

      I would agree, as you have corrected yourself, that most acts of political violence currently directed against the US and its citizens are committed by Moslems. However, the sum total of these are a drop in the ocean as a percentage of terrorism/political violence worldwide. They are also a drop in the ocean compared to the number of Moslems we have dispatched, either by military action, or by surrogate tyrants supported or installed by our spooks. Saddam was one of these. The Shah of Iran, his brother in torture, was another. We even funded the Mudahajin terrorists to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. You will recall that these duly evolved into the Taliban who are now fighting us in Afghanistan – and destabilizing neighbouring Pakistan into the bargain. They are also causing death and misery to many thousands of Pakistanis.

      Of course, most of these acts of terrorism/political violence are motivated, not by notions of “Jihad”, but by bad old-fasioned nationalism, grievances against foreign invaders, and perceived regional injustices against Moslems which are perpetrated or supported by us. I presume you are not saying that if Moslems had done to Texans in Texas some of the things we and our allies have done to Arabs in the Middle East (like stealing their land and subverting their governments), the Texans, being the placid and fatalistic people they are, would have stoically and peacefully accepted their fate. You have got to be joking! The Texans I know would respond with a terror the like of which would put show up Hamas etc. as the two bit operations they are. If you wish to test this hypothesis, you should pose as fanatical Moslem settlers and start stealing the best land and water resources south of Austin (tell the locals that “God” told you that the land was yours) and see what happens.

      Terror is the poor man’s way of fighting back because they just don’t have F16s, B52s, and tanks. That is not to say that their cause is just. It’s just a fact. The IRA, ETA, Stern Gang, Taliban, Tamil Tigers, and Al Quaeda – Christian, Moslem, and Buddist and Jew. We are all the same. And if you want to add up the “Christian” vs Moslem body count – my guess is that we are way ahead with an unassailable lead.

      And yes, we are perfectly right to kill or bring to justice anyone who harms a US citizen anywhere. But lets not con ourselves that most Moslem violence is not motivated by anything other than the good old-fasioned grievances that motivates violence everywhere.

      There is one caveat I should mention. Demonizing the religion of someone who already has perceived grievances against you is sure to drive that person to more extreme versions of the thing he perceives his enemy fears and hates. That’s how Christians have always reacted. Moslems too.

  29. Sure spent a lot of time and energy on this and we never even mentioned the Mormons!!

    Haven’t you all noticed that they’ve thoroughly penetrated the Federal law enforcement agencies and are even appearing in the media?

    How can you even tell if the person standing next to you is one? Sure the neat and clean, well-spoken and polite stuff helps, but by the time all that registers, it might be too late.

    I had a friend once and some Mormon snuck up and, while my back was turned, married her!
    He made her leave Coney Island behind and go live someplace weird and dangerous. Not even the Middle West, she was carried away to some wind-swept lair in the Far West!
    Strange customs and practices out there abound.

  30. Oh, peterwise, where to start? I haven’t got in in me to delve into this tonight. I’ll be more motivated tomorrow.

    fuster, It’s nice to see that you appreciate the dangers of Mormons in our midst. We may have a Mormon jihadist in the WH after next election. What’s next? A Jewish President?? The humanity!

  31. I’m surprised nobody picked up on the physician angle. The terrorist bombing of the Glasgow Int’l Airport in about 2007 was perpetrated by a Muslim physician in the British National Health Service.

    The Fort Hood terrorist attack was done by a Muslim physician serving in a government-run medical organization.

    Do we need any other evidence against President Obama’s attempt to nationalize health care?

  32. peterwise, you fall into the precise trap that bin Laden et al has hoped that you would. Without people in the West being so duped, Islamic extremism would be in very serious trouble. Have you ever read/heard bin Laden’s or Zawahiri’s communications to the West and the communications for “internal” consumption? You should read them side by side (so to speak). Whenever those guys speak to the West (“The Hosue Of War” to them), they always portray their fight as a response to the grave injustices that America/Christianity/West has heaped upon them. There’s always some grievance that can be conjured up somewhere. We have troops in Saudi Arabia was a convenient one (never mind that US troops were there with the permission of the Saudi govt). We were intentionally killing babies in Iraq with sanctions (never mind that Saddam gamed the system and caused misery for his people). Did you know that Zawahiri actually made a statement critcizing the US for not signing the Kyoto Treaty? Yes, the Kyoto Treaty. Can you think of anthing less significant to militant Islam than “global warming?” This is all part of a strategy. The strategy is to get people in the West to sympathize with Islam’s perceived grievances and to generate a line of thought that the West is to blame for the “defensive” reaction of Islam, rather than militant Islam itself being the one to blame. You seem to have fallen into this trap just as much of the Western left has.

    Now, when these guys speak to their “home crowds,” there is no talk of Kyoto. There also isn’t a focus on *defensive* battles against the West. They speak of *offensive* battles in the context of jihad being a religious and moral duty. That they must kill us for being mere infidels – NOT because of some grievous act that we supposedly committed.

    I disagree with you that these acts of jihad are based on “bad old-fashioned nationalism.” As a matter of fact, it has nothing to do with nationalism at all. If it did, we’d have a much easier fight on our hands. It’s because it is distinctly NOT nationalism that we can’t vanquish the enemy like we did with, let’s say, Germany and Japan. You could decimate their military or cities and win that fight. You can’t do that with militant Islam.

    If, as you say, that the jihadists are motivated by injustices perpetrated by us, how come there is never any mention of us *saving* Muslims? We saved Muslims from Christians in the Balkans. We saved Muslims in Kuwait. And I’ll ask the biggest question of them all: Can you name anyone, in the history of this planet, who has killed more Muslims than Saddam Hussein? How many Muslims are alive today (and for future decades) that are/would not be alive had we not taken Saddam out? If you want to invoke our alleged injustices, then you must also invoke our “justices.” And if you want to claim that it’s not *you* who necessarily believes this, it’s *them*, then you must accept that *they* are being, at best, irrational and at worst, disingenous. Either way, their worldview and claim on truth is invalidated.

    I’m not so sure that “we” are ahead in the Christian/Muslim body count. The jihad of centuries ago claimed a lot of lives as did the Crusades which were a direct response to the jihad. Nevertheless, I don’t see as a valid distinction as to who is “ahead.” There are too many mitigating factors to be able to claim victimization by “Christians” or “Muslims” because one side has 1+ more dead than the other.

    Your last paragraph in the above post is another example of misguidedness (if that’s indeed a word). It falls into the category of “Let’s not anger those who wish to kill us, for they may get angry and wish to kill us.” Militant (not moderate) Islam wants to kill us no matter what we do short of submitting to Islam or becoming Muslim. There is no other way to assuage them.

    Are you a “proper” Muslim? No. Are you willing to live under sharia law and be subjugated to those who are Muslim, with the caveat that we can rescind that “tolerance” whenever we want? No. The you must die. No ifs ands or buts.

    THAT is what we’re up against.

    1. I´d like to add that Saddam was not installed by the US; he was never “our bastard”. The Shah was, but he was not nearly the equal of Saddam or the current Iranian regime in terms of brutality, which is why he was removed relatively easily and the current regime is not. We don´t know what would have become of Mossadegh, but the brutal fact is that the Shah was better for Iran than Khomeini. You see the same pattern everywhere – right after the end of the cold war we dropped the handful of unwholesome anticommunist autocrats we had supported like hot potatos, but the real bastards who cling firmly to power today are all enemies of the US. And they all have their defenders among the Western left, just as Saddam did.

      1. I loathe the current Iranian government, but find it hard to think that anyone would deny the brutality that the Shah’s government came to embrace.

      1. I did not deny it. Why don´t you read it again?

        I wrote the comment because some people, like peterwise here, are good at finding reasons and excuses for anything anyone did, unless the US did it. Then suddenly the context and outcome doesn´t matter. And then they add things the US isn´t even responsible for and that is revealing – it reveals more about them than about the wider world.

        And the same goes, in my opinion, for casual expressions of contempt for humans. That is not a throwaway joke, isn´t it? It is a constant on the left. And I grew up around lefties. Their ideology is utopian and therefore by definition anti-human.

  33. Some days have passed and Americans have behaved exemplary, as usual. The Dead Souls, indifferent to everything but their own good opinion of themselves, have been wringing their hands about the danger of a backlash (” . . . as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”). Once again, there was no backlash. Of course, if there had been, say, a revenge killing, no one would have explained it away as the understandable result of inner conflict or too many twinkies.

    It has become obvious once more that in modern America, we do not judge individuals. We obsessively judge by the group. But that is not the outcome of an overreaction against Muslim terrorism. If Americans were still judging people by what they do and not by race, class or gender, Major Hasan would not have been on that base.
    That´s what I´m taking away from it.

  34. Actually, Gordo, it was a joke, but I think that you’re still being silly.
    One of the main leftist points is that humans have the capacity to act consistently well and treat all others with the same regard that they hold for those they hold dear.
    It’s more wooly-headedly optimistic than anti-human.
    Anyway, how did these leftists that grew up around treat you and how did you treat them.
    Let’s talk about that next.

    1. Not humans. The NEW MAN that will emerge from “enlightened rule”. You know history, don´t you, or at least use your eyes and ears.

      And I realize that it was a joke, but a revealing one, I think, when taken together with the gist of your other comments. But of course I don´t know you and must not be too quick to judge, to quote Gandalf. I can only guess that you do not actually live in a stagnant malodorous pool… 🙂

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