As I was driving to Wisconsin on Thursday a disturbing report came on the news. A mass shooting had taken place at Fort Hood in Texas. The details were unclear, at first report there were several shooters and seven dead. Several thoughts crossed my mind, solders suffering from PTSD, disgruntled civilian employees and of course a terrorist attack.
As details became clearer the death toll rose and the attack seemed to be the work of a single shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a devout Muslim. As the day wore on it became clear that Major Hasan held radical beliefs concerning United States foreign policy and had shared those beliefs not with just a few close friend but with just about anyone who would listen.
Then it was announced that the President was going to speak about the shootings. I expected to hear a calming voice that would honor those slain and get to the heart of the matter: We have a serious problem in this country with domestic terrorists both in and out of the military and we need to do something about it.
Since I had been in the car all day and listening to news/talk radio I knew the President was at a meeting of American Indian tribal leaders. When he came on the radio his first remarks were not about Fort Hood but about the conference. His tone wasn’t serious but he jokingly made comments about the conference. I don’t want to try to read too much into this but usually when we speak we talk about the most important things first and then move to the trivial. He complimented the Secretary of the Interior for a great day and gave a “shout out” to a conference attendee. He then continued for another 150 words until he got to the shootings. The most important thing he said in reference to the shootings was,
“We will make sure that we get answers to every single question about this horrible incident…”
That is what I wanted to hear! The consequences be damned we were going to get to the bottom of this. Great! However, before the weekend was over we were being assured, by the President, the Attorney General and the Director of Homeland Security and by any other administration official who could get their mug in front of a camera that this was not an act of terrorism. How could they know? Did they have all the facts? It reminded me of President Obama’s reaction to another much less important incident when his friend was arrested after lipping off to a cop. He said something about not wanting to jump to conclusions but the police acted stupidly.
Why isn’t Major Hasan being considered a terrorist by the White House? Is it because he acted alone? Is it because he used a gun instead of a belt of explosives? Is it because he wasn’t part of a larger group? Is it because he may have been mentally unbalanced?
There have been a number of attacks in this country in recent years that have been dismissed rather than being looked at as acts of terror. Meanwhile some folks are quick to be labeled terrorists. The shooter of an abortion doctor, a lone gunman at the National Holocaust Museum and a bomber at the Olympic Games were all quickly branded terrorists. These were similar to the Fort Hood shooting in that all were done by a single person acting outside any organized group and two of the used firearms rather than explosives. The difference? Major Hasan and other who have committed acts of terror that were not labeled as such were Muslims. Why are we hesitant to label acts of violence by Muslim-Americans “terror?”
Before you go ballistic and claim that I am branding an entire religion as terrorists I want to say I believe that 99.9% of Muslim-Americans are loyal citizens who see their religion as a peaceful one. That being said there are approximately 5000 Muslims serving in the military today. If just .1% of them believe, like Major Hasan, that acts of terror are justified then there are four more guys just like him waiting for their chance.