If only we could find it in our hearts to extend such gentle, loving reprimands and murmurs of disapproval to our American government for its bad choices.
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Weekly news magazines like Time and Newsweek, which each have a circulation of between 3 and 4 million, can’t ‘break’ news stories because they are weekly, so their coverage tends to be more like what is called ‘second-day coverage’ where they are offering analysis, predictions, repercussions, the ‘bigger picture,’ etc. Both Time and Newsweek have become much more conservative in orientation through the 1980s and 1990s.
For eight years, Americans have waged a Global War on Terrorism even as they argued about what that meant. The massacre at Fort Hood was, depending on whom you believed, yet another horrific workplace shooting by a nutcase who suddenly snapped, or it was an intimate act of war, a plot that can’t be foiled because it is hatched inside a fanatic’s head and leaves no trail until it is left in blood. In their first response, officials betrayed an eagerness to assume it was the first; the more we learn, the more we have cause to fear it was the second, a new battlefield where our old weapons don’t work very well and our values make us vulnerable: freedom, privacy, tolerance and the stubborn American certainty that people born and raised here will not reject the gifts we share.
Even as the President weighs how to fight the wars he inherited, he and the entire U.S. security apparatus will have to figure out how you fight a war against an enemy you can’t recognize, much less understand. In that sense, the war on terrorism has left the battlefield and moved to the realm of the mind.
This an excerpt to the main story in what appears to be “package coverage” with a number of sidebars and smaller stories linked off of it.
The very right-wing Washington Times is reporting that FBI sources are telling them that Nidal Malik Hasan was in contact with other people identified as Islamic extremists besides al-Awlaki, who are located in both the US and overseas.
Maj. Hasan made some of the contacts while visiting known jihadist chat rooms on the Internet, according to one of The Times’ sources, a senior FBI official. He said that several people with whom Maj. Hasan was in contact had been the focus of investigations by the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Both officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, said some of the names of those with whom Maj. Hasan was in contact will likely be released soon.
The FBI official said that could happen during pending congressional hearings into the massacre.
A military intelligence official adds:
“Those connections, except for Awlaki, could be explained innocently. But all of them together form a very concerning picture.”
“I may run into contact with shady people through coincidence, through social events, etc.,” he said. “But at some point you start saying like, ‘Huh? Why are you coming in contact with all these charming people?’ “
Sometimes the Washington Times does journalism, so this is worth noting.
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“Going postal” is a piquant American phrase that describes the phenomenon of violent rage in which a worker–archetypically a postal worker–”snaps” and guns down his colleagues.
As the enormity of the actions of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sinks in, we must ask whether we are confronting a new phenomenon of violent rage, one we might dub–disconcertingly–”Going Muslim.” This phrase would describe the turn of events where a seemingly integrated Muslim-American–a friendly donut vendor in New York, say, or an officer in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood–discards his apparent integration into American society and elects to vindicate his religion in an act of messianic violence against his fellow Americans. This would appear to be what happened in the case of Maj. Hasan.
The difference between “going postal,” in the conventional sense, and “going Muslim,” in the sense that I suggest, is that there would not necessarily be a psychological “snapping” point in the case of the imminently violent Muslim; instead, there could be a calculated discarding of camouflage–the camouflage of integration–in an act of revelatory catharsis.
The writer, Tunku Varadarajan, goes on to complain about ‘political correctness,’ as so many other articles of this ilk have.
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…a closer look behind the doors of the mosque and inside the conversations between the engineer and the doctor reveal a more complex picture of a young first-generation American Muslim man living a life of dissonance between his identity as an American and his ideology as a Muslim who had accepted a literal, rigid interpretation of Islam, akin to the puritanical Wahhabi and Salafi interpretations of Islam that define the theology of militancy inside the Muslim world today, according to community members who knew Hasan.
Along the way of reporting and describing the two men’s conversations, Nomani has a critique of the common use of the word “ummah” among some in the Muslim world today.
It’s critical that we ditch the concept of the “ummah” with a capital “U” and recognize that we are an “ummah” with a small “u,” meaning our religious identity doesn’t have to supersede other loyalties and identities. This attempt to push an “Ummah” is the politics of ideologues of puritanical Islam who want to mollify dissent. Sadly, too many moderates have bought into it. We aren’t monolithic, and we shouldn’t try to be. Look at al Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistani militant groups: They don’t have a problem with killing Muslims, slaying Muslims in attacks from Amman, Jordan, to Islamabad, Pakistan.
The spokesman for the American Family Association, a right-wing group, has issued a statement calling for the purging of Muslim soldiers from US military ranks.
“Of course, most U.S. Muslims don’t shoot up their fellow soldiers. Fine. As soon as Muslims give us a foolproof way to identify their jihadis from their moderates, we’ll go back to allowing them to serve. You tell us who the ones are that we have to worry about, prove you’re right, and Muslims can once again serve. Until that day comes, we simply cannot afford the risk. You invent a jihadi-detector that works every time it’s used, and we’ll welcome you back with open arms.”
“This is not Islamophobia, it is Islamo-realism.”
“You can’t blanket a whole group of people. There’s extremists in every religion, and there’s extremists all over the world,” said Cahill’s daughter, Kerry. “And I don’t think that we can blanket a whole group of people when this man obviously was ill, I think.”
Cahill’s other daughter, Keely Vanacker, expanded: “The death of our father, or any of these victims, shouldn’t be an excuse or reason to begin to hate an entire group of people.”
ABC News is reporting that U.S. agencies were aware months ago that Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sought to contact people associated with al Qaida, according two American officials familiar with the case. “It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al Qaeda figures, the officials said,” ABC writes.
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It’s been my experience that new converts often get approached by the ‘most hardcore of Muslims.’ This shows further the wisdom of the local imam who refused to recommend Hasan for a lay Muslim leadership position at Fort Hood.
The convert’s name is Duane Reasoner.
“He said he should quit the Army,” Reasoner said. “In the Koran, you’re not supposed to have alliances with Jews or Christian or others, and if you are killed in the military fighting against Muslims, you will go to hell.”
But when he was interviewed by Gavin Lee of the BBC, he went further.
Even if the Muslims involved are engaged in acts of indiscriminate violence against you and other Muslims?
Update: I’ve changed my earlier wording from “the most strident among us” to a phrase Asra Nomani used.
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The abbreviations on Hasan’s business card, according to Pamela Geller, stand for “Soldier of Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.”
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A reporter who covered the Columbine high school massacre responds to the question of whether there are similarities with the Fort Hood attack.
The Ft. Hood perpetrator appears pretty transparent. The “obvious” factors include:
The ridicule he endured for each
His profession as a soldier
His profession as a psychiatrist
His exposure to guns
Relentless exposure to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in his patients
Opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Imminent deployment there
We have heard a lot of facts related to each of those factors already. I expect that most will turn to be true. Historically, we get the what right pretty fast. But we have a terrible record on why. An oddsmaker could reasonably predict that some of those items will prove relevant and others true but unrelated to the crime. The problem is predicting which is which.
If we guess now, the myths will be us forever. Ten years after Columbine, most of the public still believes it was about jocks, Goths and the Trench Coat Mafia. No, no and no.