I probably shouldn’t write this. Every time I say that to myself, I get into trouble. And I still might hit the “delete” button before it’s published.
But I am spitting mad and feel the need to share my anger with those precious few of you who are not so blinded by partisanship that logic, reason, and above all, good common sense can’t be applied to a discussion about what happened at Fort Hood yesterday.
The rationalizations for Major Hasan’s rampage - his motives, his state of mind, even the environment in which he carried out his horrific attack - are being tossed about the blogosphere on both sides as if everything that can be known about the circumstances has already been revealed.
This must be the case because without any definitive word from authorities, from his friends and associates, or from Hasan himself, both lefty and righty blogs have already “solved” the mystery of motive and any argument to the contrary is “racist,” or “pro-jihad,” or “hate speech,” or “political correctness.” By far the most bizarre explanation for Hasan’s killing spree is that it was the result of some kind of weird Post Traumatic Stress Disorder transference where the good doctor heard so many horrible tales of what happened in Iraq that he cracked.
News flash: Everyone can’t be right. In fact, it is likely everyone is wrong. Was it an example of Muslim extremist terrorism? Or a reaction to bullying and name calling by brother officers? Or the prospect of being deployed to Iraq? A combination? None of the above?
I am making the same argument I made when six police officers were gunned down in Pittsburgh - the result, we were told, of the maniac listening to conservative talk radio and reading conservative literature. Trying to glean motive when a madman acts insanely is an exercise in futility. This is especially true when you pull such theories out of your ass because no investigation had been made at that point into the shooter’s motives.
Brainwashing and indoctrination are a separate issue. In this case, we know he attended a wahabbist mosque headed up by a radical imam. But regardless of the personal views of the imam, there apparently wasn’t a terrorist cell operating out of the mosque, nor are we aware that the imam preached jihad. Even if he did, there is absolutely no evidence that the kind of “immersion” necessary to brainwash an individual into committing suicide attacks was available to Hasan at his place of worship.
Needless to say, we are unaware of any other members of that mosque going on a shooting rampage anywhere in the US.
I am going to be accused of being in “denial” about this incident being a terrorist attack. I would rather be accused of waiting until the facts are in before making a judgment like that. I will also be accused of ignoring “Islamaphobia” and the terrorizing prospect of Hasan being sent to Iraq. I am not ignoring anything. Well…almost anything. Anyone who accuses me of ignoring “PTSD transference” as a motive is a loon. Not only because no one has ever heard of it but for the simple reason that only a psychological evaluation - not done yet - could uncover such a reason.
I hope you see what I’m getting at. In the rush to score political points against the opposition, one thing appears to be an afterthought; the unspeakable tragedy of 12 people having their lives extinguished for no good reason at all. In fact, both right and left bloggers are using the dead bodies of the victims to play “gotchya” with the opposition. And that’s what’s got me smoking hot this morning.
A couple of samples from prominent (second tier) blogs will illustrate what I am getting at:
UPDATE: Shlep Smith has the jihadi’s cousin on the phone, Nader Hasan, and Schlep is lapping up the lies and he is doing the taqiya. Nader is saying the Malik was a great American. Hasan is saying that the mass murderer “was harassed” and that’s why he methodically planned and executed this massive attack on a US military installation.
He was not a convert. He is a devout Muslim who joined the army with a purpose.
“Methodically planned and executed?” Have we traced the shooter’s steps for the few hours prior to the attack? If not, how is Geller so sure? “Joined the army with a purpose?” He joined at age 17 against his parent’s wishes. How can Geller possibly say that? It’s not even a guess.
Regardless of motivation one would certainly hope, above all, that this had nothing to do with it. It’s pretty awful that one’s thoughts would immediately turn in that direction when something like this happens. But after Tim McVeigh, you have to consider it. (If the shooters were civilians, my thoughts would go in a different direction.)
Digby’s first thought was that it was right wing terrorists. The link goes to the “oathtakers” website - the group of military and law enforcement who re-swear to uphold the constitution and not obey any orders that go against it. The irrationalism of the Oathtakers is a separate issue but it is revealing that this moron just pulled that kind of crap out of absolute thin air. No execessive partisan spinning there, by God!
A madman inspired by Vlaams Belang and incited to violence by right-wing extremists . . . Oh, wait. No.
IT’S THE JIHAD, STUPID!
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Pamela. A jihadi psychiatrist? Yeah, there’s your irony, Dr. Freud.
Excuse the dark sarcasm. Having spent the past week in upstate New York with Ali Akbar — yes, that’s his real name, and he’s a Southern Baptist from Texas — covering a campaign repeatedly maligned as “radical” and “extremist,” there is something especially bitter for me in this ugly reminder that there are still people who want to kill us all, just because we’re Americans.
We don’t know he was a jihadist. And this was not some foreigner, but an American born in Arlington, VA and who joined the military because, as he told friends at the time, he thought it was his duty to serve. It could very well be he didn’t want to kill “all” Americans - only those in the military.
I hate to be picky like that, but the truth has to matter somewhere. Jumping the gun before all the facts are in to write an authoritative sounding post when in reality, you don’t know your ass from a hole in the wall about what happened or who this guy was, makes my point about the utter banality of the blogosphere.
It looks increasingly as if he snapped at the thought of participating in a war he might have seen as anti-Islam. This, if borne out, is grim news:
Hasan indeed, snapped. Why, I suspect even the brilliant Andrew Sullivan doesn’t know less than 24 hours after the attack occurred. Except it must feel good to climb on the back of dead soldiers to tell us the “grim news” that Andrew Sullivan is against the Iraq War.
To those who accuse me of sticking my head in the sand about terrorism, I will say this:
1. Yes, this fellow posted some rather incendiary views on the internet. But others post worse and don’t gun down 12 US soldiers or anyone else for that matter.
2. He was anti-war and hated the thought of going to Iraq. Well, that closes the case then, right? Except no one else has felt motivated to shoot up an army base because of those feelings.
3. He was exposed to extremist rhetoric and views on the internet and in his mosque. He may even agree with most of it. But it is a rather large step to take from sympathizing with Muslims you feel are being persecuted to picking up a gun and slaughtering people.
4. He shouted “Allahu Akbar” before opening fire. This is the smoking gun for Hasan being a terrorist, right? Unless you can show me that the maniac was not delusional and thought he was somewhere else killing somebody else, I will simply point out that gleaning motive from a diseased mind is not a job for bloggers - me, you, or anybody.
This is why the FBI has not ruled out terrorism but is refusing to call it that at the moment. Law enforcement has a little different standard than partisan bloggers; they feel the need to investigate carefully and make a judgment based on the facts and not wild, politically motivated speculation. This may inconvenience those who seek to score political points, or show off their anti-Muslim bona fides. But then, reality is always more boring than what bloggers can come up with to increase their audience, and garner links.
I fully understand that this is how the game is played in the blogosphere and am under no illusions that it will ever change. But these bombs being tossed back and forth - with 12 dead bodies lying between them - made me snap this morning.
Since it looks like I am going to hit the “publish” button, better batten down the hatches and lay out the plastic over the furniture. The spittle will be flying shortly.