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Ron Radosh

“The Nation,” Jihad and General Casey

November 9th, 2009 - 10:31 am

By now, most of us are tired of the continuing litany of “let’s not judge” what happened at Fort Hood, and that Major Malik Nidal Hasan was simply mentally ill and stressed out because of his impending deployment. He, like a disgruntled employee, simply snapped.

That is why it was so refreshing to hear Senator Joe Lieberman on Fox News Sunday, where the maverick Democrat now independent dissident dared to say that Hasan “reportedly showed signs of being a “self-radicalized, homegrown terrorist.’” There were indications, he noted, that Hasan “had turned to Islamist extremism” which should be investigated.  If so, his action was not that of a mentally unbalanced individual, but “a terrorist act.” The military should have acted, Lieberman added, and once they got notice of various reported signs about Hasan, he should have been gone.

Lieberman’s view is especially refreshing when compared to that offered by Army Chief of Staff General George Casey, who told CNN that “You know there’s been a lot of speculation going on, and probably the curiosity is a good thing, but we have to be careful, because we can’t jump to conclusions now based on little snippets of information that come out.” Rather than acknowledge the obvious, General Casey was concerned instead that undue speculation could “cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers,” and that while Hasan’s action was a tragedy, “it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.”

Any objective observer would think it a tragedy if the Army swept the motivations of someone like Hasan under the rug.  He  not only yelled out “Allahu Akbar” before his shooting spree, but told various people that American Muslims should not be fighting other Muslims abroad, and that actions taken of a violent nature like suicide bombings were justified.

But perhaps the single most egregious post on these events comes, rather predictably, from those good folks at The Nation magazine, in which John Nichols writes “the incident inspired an all-too-predictable explosion of Islamophobia.”  Nichols perceives  that what triggered Hasan’s attack was that he feared getting combat related stress as he had observed in the soldiers he had treated. Of course Hasan would have been assigned to a medical unit treating soldiers in need of psychological counseling, and he himself would not have been in a combat situation.

Yet Nichols is sure that his action “might well be the latest in a series of stress-related homicides and suicides involving soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” or who are dispatched to what Nichols terms “occupied lands.” He is sure that in fact no one knows what motivated Hasan. He acknowledges only that the Major was “deeply troubled,” and that he might have been an “imperfect follower of Islam.”

Hence what he did was not an act of Jihad—as Marty Peretz among others have argued— but to the contrary, “it should be understood that to assume a follower of Islam who engages in violence is a jihadist is every bit as absurd as to assume that a follower of Christianity who attacks others is a crusader.”  Somehow, Nichols cannot conceive that the Islamist ideology Hasan followed, which he learned at the Wahhabi mosque at which he studied, as Stephen Schwartz has reported, might have something to do with his act.

One might also recall that many leftist commentators, including those who write for The Nation, regularly argue that indeed, bombers of abortion clinics and murderers of pro-choice doctors who perform late term abortions are motivated by their Christian evangelical beliefs. That other Christians and pro-life activists condemn such violent acts does not deter them from putting the blame on those who believe in Christian doctrines.

Indeed, to attribute Hasan’s actions to Jihad is not to condemn “a whole religion,” as Nichols argues, but to draw conclusions from the facts we know to date. True, many Muslims serve honorably in our armed forces, but they obviously are not subscribers to Radical Islamist  doctrine. True to form, Nichols cites the words of CAIR, which he simply calls a “civil rights and advocacy group,” rather than acknowledge the more accurate conclusion others have drawn about the group’s real agenda, and its regular pattern of apologia on behalf of various terrorists.

The view of The Nation editors, who have regularly condemned American military actions in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and who call for immediate complete withdrawal of all American troops from the region, seek to turn the nation’s attention away from the need to counter a real threat of terrorist action at home, to one of curbing a supposed witch-hunt in the making against Muslims.

So we have good reason to worry, when similar thinking from those quarters comes from the likes of General George Casey. Hopefully, he is not a reader of The Nation.

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