Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s deadly terrorist attack last week at Fort Hood is generating plenty of finger pointing at the military for the debacle. While the indignation is understandable, and while the army brass bears a share of the responsibility for Hasan’s terrorism, having the military bear a disproportionate share of the criticism is both unfair and misguided. Doing so plays right into the hands of liberals, who would rather have America’s warriors take the heat.
A good deal of conservative ire has been leveled at the military for adopting political correctness codes. But is the military really to blame for this development, or are the culprits the politicians to whom the military brass reports?
The Constitution makes the military subordinate to civilian command. That’s more than just form, thank goodness. The military obeys the president and follows the laws established by Congress. The Founders wanted the military subordinate to civilian command, for obvious reasons.
Liberals have had great success over the years insinuating political correctness into the very fabric of the national government. They’ve accomplished this not only by using the law and directives or manipulating budgets, but with substantial acts of intimidation.Those who oppose quotas of any sort, for instance, or who make reasonable arguments against special laws and penalties for so-called hate crimes, are vilified as bigots.
The same goes for the military, with the glaring proviso that the president and Congress hold the military’s purse strings entirely. They also have the power to promote or demote, to advance or ruin careers. They run the show.
Given Washington’s de jure and de facto control over the military, it’s no small wonder that Hasan was able to remain in the army and move up the ladder despite giving every indication that his first loyalty lay with the aims of radical Islam.
Again, that’s not to let the army brass off the hook. Regardless of Washington’s legal and practical power, there are moral and ethical imperatives. If officers need to shout it from the rooftops that a fellow officer is hostile to his own nation and, in fact, is a militant for the nation’s enemy, then that must happen, whatever the fallout is to funding or careers. When there are reasonable suspicions that innocent human beings are imperiled — and that was most likely the case given Hasan’s public utterances — then action is unavoidable.
Most of us work in situations that require varying degrees of conformity. We all, to one extent or another, bend to the norms of our work cultures. That’s natural and expected. Organizations simply cannot function if its members are free-wheeling.
That is especially true for each branch of the military. The nation’s armed forces contain highly integrated units with strong hierarchies. Success in war depends on units acting internally, and with other units, as one.
The great ongoing tension in the military, or in any culture, for that matter, is between conformity and the duty to one’s conscience. Conscience should always prevail, but anyone who has faced having to make a choice between conformity and conscience knows it can be wrenching. And a choice isn’t always going to be as evident as in the case of Major Hasan.
In the aftermath of the Hasan attack, the military’s top brass needs to reiterate to soldiers that doing the right thing — following the dictates of conscience — is a soldier’s overriding duty. It’s in the spirit of a soldier’s code of conduct — specifically, Article VI. It needs to be made obvious, given the current climate and until the infection of political correctness is removed from the armed forces.
And if that raises the president’s hackles or those of congressional members or cabinet secretaries, so be it. Call it the armed forces’ first act of reclaiming the moral high ground. And as Lincoln said about the possible fallout in his stand on principle: “Let the grass grow where it may.”
If the nation doesn’t want a repeat of Fort Hood or other terrorists shooting up malls or neighborhood schools, then a sustained, unapologetic, no-holds-barred campaign needs to be mounted against the authors and defenders of political correctness. It needs to begin with the national government. Certainly, liberals will resort to every nasty epithet and smear they can think of to push back the forces of common sense. They’ll arm-twist and threaten, connive and cajole, but whatever their gambits, they need to be defeated. The nation’s security depends on it.
Liberals would like nothing better than for criticism of the military in the Hasan affair to grow. For liberals, the military is a smart diversion from their own culpability in making the nation less safe through the odious doctrines of political correctness.