Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Observations on the Coverage of the Fort Hood Terrorist
Just a few days short of Veteran's Day, an army psychiatrist, proclaiming "Allahu Akbar," goes on deadly jihad at the nation's largest military base, slaying 13 soldiers and wounding 29. Everything I read calls Nidal Malik Hasan the "alleged" "shooter" (not murderer), or the "suspect," when dozens of eye-witnesses watched him in action. If he had been taken out, (as surely he would have been if this occurred in Israel), would he be called the "alleged" shooter? The "suspected" killer?
My favorite radio talk-show host distinguishes between this calculated attempt to kill as many soldiers as possible, and a "tragedy," which is news media's ubiquitous term for Hasan's rampage. The Fort Hood deaths and woundings were each enormous crimes. Shakespeare wrote tragedies, in which characters, often due to personality flaws but never intentionally, fell or met their doom. Tragedy involves destiny, the collision of events, an inevitably sad, but unplanned result. The monster Hasan left a trail of behavioral and online breadcrumbs that should have led superiors to the devouring witch of Islamic fanaticism.
I'm annoyed when news outlets like the New York Times continue to elevate this premeditated murderer by using the title of Major. My father advanced to the rank of Major in the army during World War II. He served at many posts, one of which was running a prisoner of war camp in Anchorage, Alaska. I grew up hearing his profound respect for the dedicated officers with whom he served, and of the efforts he made to achieve that rank. Hasan the murderer no longer deserves the title of Major. I think he should be called the Fort Hood terrorist.
And he is a terrorist. I was flummoxed by early media stories insisting that Hasan wasn't one. But recently-uncovered associations and rantings now make his deadly agenda undeniable. Still, few news outlets are willing to call the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, which Hasan attended in 2001 with three 9-11 hijackers, a well-organized, dogma-driven source of anti-American fervor. Oh, no.
John McCain did directly label Hasan's rampage "an act of terror." In an Associated Press story that again "alleges" Hasan's culpability, McCain clarified to University of Kentucky students that it's clearly terrorist to kill one's fellow military on a base, motivated by "an extremist interpretation of an honorable religion." Awk, even he can't stop pussy-footing. Let's get this straight: Hasan considered non-Muslims infidels and wanted them cowed; last week, he wanted them dead.
I took the time to read all 50 screens of the powerpoint presentation Hasan gave to a group of army doctors in June, 2007, when he lectured on Islam, instead of sticking to his assignment to discuss medical issues. Aside from plentiful grammatical and spelling errors, the most notable aspect was the plethora of quotations that explained Muslim beliefs on reward and punishment, defensive and offensive jihad. Much is cryptic and requires explanation. The concluding slide recommends that Muslim soldiers be allowed the option of "conscientious objector" release from the military, "to increase troop morale and decrease adverse events." And then, Hasan perpetrated a horrific "adverse event."
Veteran's Day is a time to celebrate those who served our country--who are alive to be appreciated. On the eve of Pres. Obama's announcing the extent of additional troops to be sent to Afghanistan, we must renew our gratitude to the men and women and their families who continue to defend and protect us.
We who are so blessed to live in the United States chug along, heads down, thumbs poking our iPods and Droids, contemplating which t.v. program or movie to watch tonight. We are so spoiled. As the Fort Hood massacre reminds, life is fragile. One minute, one ideology, can change everything.