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Works and Days

Fort Hood—A now familiar horror

November 5th, 2009 - 10:12 pm

Perhaps  worrying about such violence or trying to explain it constitutes “fear” and “mistrust”. Here is an example  of what I wrote in 2002 after the sniping and random acts of Islamic violence :

When, as an individual or collectively, he constructs someone or something culpable for his own — or his people’s — sense of failure, then a primordial urge to lash out follows. His mind returns to the seventh-century never-never land of scimitars and sharia law mixed in with rote chanting of “Allah Akbar!” while his body and material appetites are stranded in our cosmos of Baywatch reruns and professors on the BBC and CNN whining on about the dangers of Islamaphobia. What, then, are the catalysts for the al Qaedist that turn him from hothouse anti-Americanism to deadly violence?

After the 2007 Fort Dix plot, I wrote nearly three years ago the following chilling prognosis:

So, in the end, what are we to make of Fort Dix — yet another post-9/11 straw on an increasingly tired camel’s back?

We know that CAIR will neither seriously admonish Muslims charged with terrorist crimes nor introspectively examine the larger Islamic culture that seems to so incite the jihadist.

Such organizations will not do so as long as they can far more easily play on the self-doubt and guilt of the affluent and leisured citizen, who is supposed to believe that the dangers of radical Islam, both at the state and individual level, are mostly fictions inspired by our own prejudices. The sermonizing here in the United States by an Ayatollah Khatami, readily received by complaint listeners, and the satellite-beamed sophistry of Tariq Ramadan prove that well enough.

Most Americans will not remember Fort Dix in a week — just as they have forgotten Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Lodi, Portland, and all the rest; just as they want out of Fallujah now and probably Kandahar tomorrow.

Yet, at some point, the jihadists will go too far. Many of us, erroneously as it turned out, thought that, after twenty years of serial provocations, radical Islam had done precisely that on 9/11.

Apparently not. But such forbearance, even at this late hour in the post-West, is still not limitless.

The more a Palestinian imam promises us our death, the more the Iranian president promises a world without America, the more these al Qaedists, like the most recent keystone clowns at Fort Dix, do their small part in trying to reify such mad rhetoric, and the more the sophisticated apologists assure us that we, not they, are the real threat, the more likely the sofa-sitting, channel-surfing American will some day very soon blow up, rather than be blown up.

And I added this tonight on NRO’s corner:

We know little so far of the terrible carnage at Fort Hood, though the news media have been airing all sorts of explanations and much of their information has already proven erroneous.

Yet I think it is fair to say that the Fort Hood mass murder could be seen in two larger contexts:

1) a disturbing pattern of attacking American soldiers on bases or offices inside the United States (e.g., the 2005 plot to shoot down military aircraft leaving the National Guard base in Newburgh, New York; the 2007 mass murder plot at Fort Dix; the shooting at the Little Rock, Arkansas recruiting station, etc.),

2) what I once in two NRO essays called al Qaedism, or the spontaneous rage of disaffected Muslims, who connect their own failures in some sense to generic radical Islamist sentiments, and act out that anger by running over the innocent (San Francisco or North Carolina), shooting Jews (the LAX or Seattle attacks), or shooting up malls or sniping. These are of course different from but in addition to the 24 organized plots that have been broken up since 9/11, four of them this year alone.

In reaction officials and news people often opt for therapeutic exegeses—stress, often of the postraumatic sort, ill-feeling and bias shown Muslims, family problems, or brain-washing by nefarious outside actors—to explain the cold-blooded nature of the murdering…

Far more rarely, do they ever suggest that the Islamist notion abroad that America is to blame for mostly self-induced pathologies in the Islamic world mostly goes unquestioned here at home— and as a result filters down to the lone angry and violent  here that there is some sort of cosmic  justification that can amplify their own outrage at a sense of personal failure or setback.

If it is shown that the present killer openly in the past expressed sympathies for or tolerance of Islamist violence abroad, one would have expected, in the current climate of fear of being seen as illiberal or judgmental, little repercussions or formal preemptory action to preclude the possibility of future violence.

In other words, the narrative after 9/11 largely remains that Americans have given into illegitimate “fear and mistrust” of Muslims in general, rather than there is a small minority of  Muslims who channels generic Islamist fantasies, so that we can assume that either formal terrorist plots or individual acts of murder will more or less occur here every 3-6 months.

At some point, if both these organized plots (see the most recent in Boston) and isolated acts of lone gunmen and homicidal drivers continue, and if the prevailing theme continues to be fears of American intolerance and unfairness to Muslims after 9/11, I think the public will  resent the disconnect between what they are told to think and what they believe, on the basis of some evidence.

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