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Fort Hood Tragedy: Mourning the Victims and Hoping it Doesn’t Lead to Islamophobia

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Fort Hood, an army base in Texas was the scene of a terrible attack by a gunman that left 13 dead and countless injured. The gunman, Nidal Malik Hasan, is a member of the military, a psychiatrist who worked much of his professional life at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre. This despicable crime is a tragedy and we at LoonWatch mourn the victims alongside the rest of the nation and pray that they are given patience and comfort in this dark hour.

While we pause to remember them and question why such a random act of violence happened we also want to state that such aberrant and deranged actions should not provoke an emotional response that leads to or encourages violence. It is easy at this time,(already the anti-Muslim blogosphere is in a frenzy over this,) to project blame and innuendo on the whole American Muslim community. That would be a mistake, as thousands of Muslims serve proudly in the military with honor, and many have died in combat overseas.

We await to assess the motives of the gunman, information that will come out in the next few days, but preliminary reports show that there were signs indicating that the gunman was off his kilter and not in uniformity with his duties as a Major. He didn’t want to be deployed over seas, and told friends and family how he was distressed over what he heard from his patients who had been over seas; that and low marks on his performance charts should have been red flags warning his superiors that something was off base.

Again we first remember those who died in this senseless tragedy and we mourn and pray for them, we also pray that the hate that drove the shooter does not give birth to more hate.

Horror at Fort Hood Inspires Predictable Islamophobia

Thursday’s shootings at Fort Hood army base in Texas — which have left at least 11 people dead and 31 others wounded — were of course the “horrific outburst of violence” that President Obama bemoaned and condemned Thursday.

But, because a soldier identified as the gunman had a name that led to the presumption that he was Muslim, the incident inspired an all-too-predictable outbreak of Islamophobia.

News reports named the man who used two handguns in the assault on his fellow soldiers at a base that is a prime point of departure for troops headed to Iraq and Afghanistan as Major Malik Nidal Hasan. The major, who was wounded during the incident, was reportedly a psychiatrist who had served in the Department of Psychology at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Bethesda Naval Facility in Bethesda, Maryland, before his transfer to Fort Hood. Hours after the incident, and hours after news anchors and politicians cited his religion as an explanation for the shootings, a family member told reporters Major Hasan was indeed a Muslim.

But that was hardly the only relevant detail about the major.

For instance, according to Texas Senator Bailey Hutchison, preparing to deploy to Iraq. However, the senator said, “I do know that he has been known to have told people that he was upset about going (to Iraq).” Several new reports suggested that the major saw a deployment to Iraq as his “worst nightmare” and recounted how he had treated victims of combat-related stress and was upset about the war.

Military officials at the base and in Washington refused to speculate about motivations or intents. And Paul Sullivan, executive director of the group Veterans for Common Sense, noted that the incident might well be the latest in a series of stress-related homicides and suicides involving soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan or are being dispatched to those occupied lands.

No one knew on Thursday whether stress, fear, anger over mistreatment, mental illness or a warped understanding of his religion might have motivated Major Hasan. The point here is not to defend the soldier or his alleged actions. Rather, it is to question the rush to judgment regarding not just this one Muslim but all Muslims.

It should be understood that to assume a follower of Islam who engages in violence is a jihadist is every bit as absurd to assume that every follower of Christianity who attacks others is a crusader. The calculus makes no sense, and is rooted in a bigotry that everyone from George W. Bush to Pope Benedict XVI has condemned.

But that did not stop right-wing web sites from exploding with incendiary speculation about a “Jihad at Fort Hood?” and a “Terrorist Incident in Texas.”

Fox News host Shepard Smith asked Senator Hutchison on air: “The name tells us a lot, does it not, senator?”

Hutchinson’s response? “It does. It does, Shepard.”

Neither Smith nor Hutchison had any information to suggest that Major Hasan’s name offered even the slightest shred of information regarding the incident at Fort Hood.

What could Hutchinson have said that might have been more responsible response?

She could have emphasized that the investigation of the shooting spree has barely begun.

She might also have noted that thousands of Muslims serve honorably, indeed heroically, in the U.S. military; that American Muslim soldiers have died In Iraq and been buried at Arlington Cemetery; that some of the first condemnations of the slayings at Fort Hood came from Muslim veterans such as Robert Salaam.

“I’m sad for those killed and wounded by a traitor to both God and our country, and I regret that I even feel that I have to write something on the subject. Words cannot express my emotions and the instant headache I received when notified by my dear sister Sheila Musaji over at The American Muslim (TAM) concerning the alleged culprit,” wrote Salaam, who served in the Marine Corps, within minutes after learning the gunman’s name. “They have not yet released further details such as the motive but I will state for the record that no true Muslim could ever commit such a crime against humanity. As Muslims we are reminded that to take one innocent life is as if one killed all of mankind. Muslims are also commanded to keep their oaths when given.”

Salaam is not alone in regretting that, as a Muslim, he feels a need to respond to the incident with an explanation of his religion.

But the conversation between Fox’s Smith and Senator Hutchinson reminds us why it is necessary to respond.

And so Muslim groups have responded quickly and unequivocally.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, issued a statement that read: “We condemn this cowardly attack in the strongest terms possible and ask that the perpetrators be punished to the full extent of the law. No religious or political ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted the all-volunteer army that protects our nation. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured.”

Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, declared that, “Our entire organization extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed as well as to those wounded and their loved ones. We stand in solidarity with law enforcement and the US military to maintain the safety and security of all Americans.”

Those are sentiments that are worth noting, especially by news anchors and senators who are in a position to inform the discussion of a horrific incident — rather than to inflame it.

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  • Cathleen Fontane

    @grb2412 It’s always in Minnestoda…..

  • Pingback: Robert Spencer: Here’s Hoping for an anti-Muslim Backlash | Spencer Watch()

  • StopUSAGiveaway

    I thank you for this web site because we who believe iin GOD and Jesus as our Savior are to confront EVIL.
    This is a minute opportunity..
    Something has happened in over 30 years on USA soil because I was a College/University Counselor for International Students and I did interact most personally with middle eastern students as all others: we had some who were distinctively different in demanding and commanding: but few.
    Most were respectful and were no threat: but that is no longer the case as those here now have their PLAN and EVILL is growing as the Bible has spoken of because those followers have taken it all for granted and
    ONE NATION UNDER GOD
    It makes me ill to think we have had each generation systematically sacrificed on foreign soil as US Troops our sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers: for OPEN BORDERS USA CRIMINAL ILLEGAL ALIEN INVADERS: heathen breeders entering the USA just in time to breed for auto welfare against the US CONST with their END PLAN in mind.
    Drug runners; diseased; evil has entered by the hand too of
    T R E A S O N or T R A I T O R S within Dual Citizenship and now a Kenyan President MUSLIM who proclaimed he wouldn’t wear a flag pin because it meant oppression to many around the globe. And his female disbared wife whom proclaimed this is the first time I have been pround of my naqtion! Now while both spend MILLIONS more than any other lst lady or President in expenses arrogant above the will of the people guiding and permitting EVIL…giving away something they never contributed to nor earned. My former overseas partner-worker lived in Obama’s neighborhood, so they know the truth and loathe how he got where he is… It will take all those who believe in the truth to Stop TREASON WITHIN and EVIL out.

  • StopUSAGiveaway

    I S L A M I S T MUSLIM J I H A D I S T S will perish ASAP
    IN JESUS CHRIST’s NAME I PRAY AMEN and not soon enough. Arrogant hate is self consuming and Americans have had enough of you as invaders.
    We do not systemstically sacrificed our sons, daughters, motyhers, grandmothers and grandfathers as cowards as US TROOPS: yet JIHADISTs walk in the dark of the DEVIL in persistent and conswistent EVIL which cannot be hidden by your inability to adapt and respect our culture and others.
    As an ll year old I was told by a radical Muslim-laughing proclaiming that ” we Muslims will breed and take over the world” I have not forgotten his glory at saying in the end we will kill all INFIDELS” as GOD our father our creator you will perish in HELL and …and not soon enough…your terrorism lives on…but not in me as a child of GOD who lives the TEN COMMANDMENTS and has a soul with a conscience

  • AYS

    Obama didn’t hesitate to call Cambridge Police ‘stupid’ after the arrest of a black professor. Maureen O’Dowd didn’t hesitate to paint Joe Wilson as a racist cracker for shouting ‘You Lie’ during Obama’s sacred speechifying, by adding the imaginary word ‘Boy’ to the end of his statement. Quotes were fabricated out of whole cloth in order to portray Rush Limbaugh as a bigot and prevent him from purchasing a football team. In each of these cases, no one in the media stepped forward and said ” we must be very cautious before we label anyone as a racist. We must wait until we gather all the evidence.” In all three cases evidence was either imagined or manufactured.

    After the Oklohoma bombing, if you remember well, President Clinton took advantage of the podium in order to talk about ‘hate on the airwaves’ in an attempt to link Timothy McVeigh in a not so subtle fashion to Limbaugh and advance his view of ‘right wing extremism’. The Media never hesitated to jump to conclusions. They took the ball and labeled McVeigh a terrorist right away.

    Yet apparently as a member of the US military you can parade around off duty in full Islamic garb, make inflamatory anti-American statements sympathetic to radical islamism, attempt to contact Al-Qaeda and terrorist affiliated imams, shout “ALLAH AQBAR” before shooting thirteen soldiers dead and wounding thirty others…..and have the entire media HESITATE TO JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS. (How can we be sure he was a terrorist? Won’t this heedless labeling upset other muslims?) Meanwhile, the public is sickened by the double standard.

    Obama and the obamedia doesn’t want to acknowledge this as a terrorist attack because it makes them look bad, and it moves the focus away from health-care. Plain and simple.

  • Abed

    re: mikeymike

    pray tell how do you expose someone of a terrorist ilk? if they say they’re going to do it obviously that’s something to be concerned about and not left to yourself. but odds are if someone is plotting something sinistral they’re not going to keep the local community in the loop be they a Muslim or *anyone else* and more importantly probably will not be involved in their community to begin with.

    but this isn’t terrorism. this is a crime. i am by no means trying to trivialize, justify, or defend it. but it’s the sort of thing that could be done by someone involved with their family, involved with their community, and noone would have been able to see it coming.

    re: Bonni
    Since we’re all inviting each other to learn and read I’m not going to send you to a far off land to do so
    try this
    http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/09/apostasy/

    or if you really want to read the Qur’an for the purpose of getting to know it Muslims do not consider a translation of Qur’an as Qur’an.
    one of my personal favorite references/tafsir is Maariful Qur’an, it has linguistic notes, historical context, commentaries, and then some all in English. the introduction even explains the challenges faced in explaining, translation the Qur’an and so forth. remarkable work.
    http://www.islamibayanaat.com/EMQ.htm

  • TYO

    Ethnicities not elasticities.

  • TYO

    “I agree with you. However, keep in mind that he signed up with the military long before the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”

    19 years ago, Bush 41 sent troops into Iraq. Hasan 39 now would have been 20 then. He choose to stay in the military all these years. The American military is sent to fight a war against whomever the civilian authorities decide, including Islamic countries. I do not believe that he was not aware of that. No soldier can predict the future and know what war will start where and when and if he’ll agree with it. There are probably many other soldiers who may not agree with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – Muslim and other faiths alike. But they know they signed up for all possibilities, which is they agreed to fight when ordered.

    [“If you don’t want Muslims to be treated any differently from other Americans, then don’t complain when they are treated no differently from other Americans. You cannot pick and choose when you get to be treated the same and when you get to be treated special.”

    Muslims *are* Americans, and they are no different than other Americans. You do not decide who is and who is not American, nor do you decide to grant Americanness to anyone.]

    If you re-read what I wrote that you quoted above, you’d see I wrote “from OTHER Americans.” It assumes Muslims are Americans too. I grew up with friends from all religious backgrounds and elasticities. They were and are Americans to me. So save your lecture.

    It was Hasan who separated himself from OTHER Americans.

  • Nissa

    Bonni has clearly NEVER read Al-Quran….it is easy to hate someone when you are truly ignorant of who they are what they believe it and just add your own twisted assumptions.

    Suddenly this one Muslim soldier is the ultimate representation of Muslims in the Army (and the US) but why aren’t the soldiers who have died for America given the same prominence as representing Islam and Muslims?

    I’m glad there are still voices of common sense and fairness here are Loon Watch!

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