Truth vs. PC at Fort HoodI admit it. As the early horrifying news of the Fort Hood massacre unfolded and I was jerked alert by the word that the suspect was a Muslim, a thought-prayer suddenly flashed across my mind: Oh, please don’t let him be black.
By: Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
I admit it. As the early horrifying news of the Fort Hood massacre unfolded and I was jerked alert by the word that the suspect was a Muslim, a thought-prayer suddenly flashed across my mind: Oh, please don’t let him be black.
It’s the sort of reflex that is familiar to many black Americans. We like to see the best of our ethnic group spotlighted in the media, not the crooks, thugs and nutcases.
But there were other reasons why I was alarmed at the prospect of black Muslim suspect at Fort Hood. Two others have been known perpetrators of strikingly, chillingly similar murders.
In June, a black Muslim convert named Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad was charged with killing one soldier and wounding another at a Little Rock military recruiting center. Another black converted Muslim, Sgt. Hasan Akbar, formerly Mark Fidel Kools, of Los Angeles, has been convicted of killing two officers in the 101st Airborne Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Both men claimed a mix of religious and political reasons for their acts.
Still, I was not much relieved when the accused Fort Hood gunman turned out to be Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an America-born Muslim of Palestinian descent who was not black.
Gen. George Casey, U.S. Army chief of staff, warned us all against any backlash against Muslim soldiers over the Texas attack, which killed 13 on the nation’s largest military post. Casey was not just being a nice guy. A generalized backlash against Muslims would be not only unfair but a poisonous way to undermine the diversity that has been a real strength in our volunteer military.
Even so, human nature being what it is, a stealth backlash seemed to bubble beneath the surface as politicians and pundits asked how blinded military leaders might have been to Hasan’s militant Islamism by political correctness? The question is politically loaded, but that should not stop us from pursuing it as we seek the whole truth about Hasan, just as we should seek it regarding the accused black Muslim gunmen.
In Hasan’s case, we know that the joint terrorism task force had him under surveillance at one point. Doctors and staff in the military also say he had behavior problems and disturbing expressions of Islamic extremism. Maybe his fellow officers bent over too far backwards in tolerating behavior that looks so obviously bizarre in hindsight. If so, we should be able as a nation to agree that the alleged over-tolerance was a mistake without going so far as to penalize the thousands of Muslims who serve honorably and courageously in our military.
“PC” won’t make us safer, but irrational stereotyping of ethnics based on the wrongheadedness of a few won’t make us safer, either.
The same must be said of the question of whether the mass murder at Fort Hood should be investigated as a heinous crime or a terrorist attack. A Rasmussen poll released on Wednesday found that 60 percent of respondents want the Fort Hood shooting “investigated by military authorities as a terrorist act,” while 27 percent “want the incident investigated by civilian authorities as a criminal act.” The public apparently wants to make sure that a terror investigation is not left out in the prosecution of this crime.
So, why not have both? I hope President Barack Obama puts this question to rest with the review he has ordered of all intelligence related to Hasan. Particularly important is the question of whether information about him was properly shared within and between government agencies. The Department of Homeland Security was formed at great expense to deal with such interagency problems. But a gathering of intelligence is only half the battle for our military and security agencies. They also have to make intelligent use of the information after they receive it.
(C) 2009 CLARENCE PAGE
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