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.
Anderson Cooper 360 was somewhat more informative than what had gone before. But at 11 P.M., halfway through his program, CNN International cut away from Cooper to return to its own programming -- which consisted of essentially the same lineup of not terribly earthshaking international stories that they’d been serving up hours earlier. Fortunately, I was able to listen to the second half of Cooper’s program on Sirius radio. Thanks to Sirius I was able to hear Cooper speak warmly of CAIR at 11:30 EST, saying that the organization had “condemn[ed] the attacks in the strongest terms possible.” Cooper also quoted a posting by Hasad on an Islamist website about martyrdom and jihad. Case closed, one would think -- but no, Cooper immediately glided from this damning evidence into a description of Hasad not as a jihadist but as a man deeply troubled (just as you or I might be) by “the war in Iraq” and by disagreement with “U.S. foreign policy.”
Also included on Cooper’s show was an exclusive report revealing that Hasan had sometimes worn traditional Muslim garb (this was accompanied by a surveillance-camera video, which I later watched here, showing him actually wearing such garb on Thursday morning), had described himself to a local merchant as “a devout Muslim,” and had tried to persuade the merchant to accompany him to his mosque. Yet this information was left hanging. Cooper said nothing to indicate that these revelations suggested any particular interpretation of Thursday’s events. On the contrary, after wrapping up this story, he reiterated for the umpteenth time that we still don’t know anything -- other than that this had been a day no one at Fort Hood would ever forget.
Then, after Cooper was over, we got a “special edition” of Larry King Live hosted by Wolf Blitzer. This one really took the cake. By way of “illuminating” Hasan’s actions, Blitzer interviewed a panel of -- no, not experts on Islamic jihad, but psychiatrists. Blitzer endlessly repeated the mantra that Hasan had been “taunted” for being Muslim, had feared going to a war zone, and had ultimately gone “berserk,” and the docs echoed this line. “He did not reach for help when he should have," lamented one panelist. Another opined: “It sounded like it got to be too much for him.” Yet another told us: “All kind of people need help who aren't getting help. ... He was feeling picked on by his colleagues. ... He was strained. He was scared.”
Could there be a more bitter contrast? At Fort Hood, so many courageous GIs, all of them prepared to risk their lives fighting the Islamic jihadist enemy in defense of our freedom, several of them now dead. And, on our TV screens, so many apparently craven journalists, public officials, psychiatrists, and (alas) even military brass -- all but a few of whom seemed unwilling to do anything more than hint obliquely at the truth that obviously lies at the root of this monstrous act.