Fort Hood Massacre: A Day of Courage and Cowardice

The brave soldiers who were massacred at Fort Hood had trained to fight the jihadist enemy abroad. But they seem to have ended up being murdered by the same enemy on American soil, in a place where they thought they were safe -- murdered, apparently, because a series of military and medical officials recognized what was going on with this major and chose to do nothing about it.

Most of the people in the mainstream media, I suspect, could also see early on exactly what was going on -- but to an outrageous degree, they, too, spent Thursday evening doing their best to turn away from the obvious truth. Throughout the evening military and other authorities kept saying, and the talking heads on CNN kept repeating, that there was no sign that this was “a terrorist act” -- as if Nidal Malik Hasan had to be officially connected to al-Qaeda to be a jihadist, a pious Muslim who saw the infidel as his enemy.

Living in Norway, I get CNN International, which is different from CNN in the U.S., though when major stories are breaking in the U.S. the international network often switches to the U.S. feed for hours at a time. CNN International’s sponsors are disproportionately Middle Eastern airlines, tourism authorities, and such; so it was that in between ads for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, for Abu Dhabi tourism, for some art show in Abu Dhabi, and for the Dubai World Championship, not to mention cozy promos for an apparently soft-feature series called Inside the Middle East (presented “in association with Qatar Foundation”), CNN reporters kept hammering home the line that Hasan had been the victim of anti-Muslim prejudice by his military colleagues. Repeatedly they read out, and showed onscreen, a long statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemning the massacre -- never mentioning, of course, CAIR’s well-established terrorist links.

Here in Norway CNN International was my only real TV option. Our cable system doesn’t offer Fox News, though it does offer Al-Jazeera, BBC News, and Sky News, all of which offered only spotty, repetitious coverage of the massacre. It was a deeply frustrating experience. In the hours after Michael Jackson’s death CNN International had stayed with the U.S. feed continuously, focusing on nothing other than Jacko’s life and death. This time around, however, the network kept cutting away from the U.S. feed and from the massacre in order to give us international news, including endlessly repeated sports reports and other trivial material. They seemed determined not to treat this as a truly major story.

CNN (ditto the New York Times website) was considerably less useful than the tidbits I picked up online by following links on various blogs and in Facebook postings. They led me to (among other things) an AP story, a Daily Mail article, and a Fox News interview that provided telling details: Hasan had apparently been a devout Muslim; Arabic words, reportedly a Muslim prayer, had been posted on his apartment door in Maryland; in conversations with colleagues he had repeatedly expressed sympathy for suicide bombers; on Thursday morning, hours before the massacre, he had supposedly handed out copies of the Koran to neighbors. A couple of these facts eventually surfaced on CNN, but only briefly; they were rushed past, left untouched, unexamined; the network seemed to be making a masterly effort to avoid giving this data a cold, hard look. Meanwhile it spent time doing heavy-handed spin -- devoting several minutes, for example, to an inane interview with a forensic psychiatrist who talked about the stress of treating soldiers bearing the emotional scars of war. The obvious purpose was to turn our eyes away from Islamism and toward psychiatric instability as a motive.