Sunday, November 29, 2009

Domestic terrorism

It was November 5, more than three weeks ago that a shooter identified as Maj. Malik Nidal Hasan murdered 13 people and wounded dozens in a shooting spree in Ft. Hood Texas. Three weeks later, there doesn't seem to be terribly much national press interest. And we know little more about the Maj. Hasan than we learned in the few days after the shooting. The military seems to be keeping a tight lid on information about the crime.

This 11/25/09 piece from the local Killeen Daily Herald, Attorney: Hasan may use insanity defense says that Hasan refused to speak to military investigators, that his attorney has said very little about the case publicly, and that the attorney has indicated that Hasan may pursue an insanity defense.

Of course, our rightwing culture warriors decided quickly that Hasan was a jihadist terrorist inspired by Islamist ideology to commit the crime. And based on what's in the public record, it's still entirely plausible that religion may turn out to have been involved in his action. But what we know from the public record about Hasan and his actions haven't really progressed much beyond where they were when Mark Benjamin wrote The media's silly Fort Hood coverage Salon 11/12/09. This item from ABC News 11/19/09 suggests Hasan Was Worried About Results of Recent HIV Test. The accompanying video says that details about the shooting were being withheld even from members of Congress cleared for top secret intelligence briefings.

But none of that stops war enthusiast Tom Friedman from declaring with confidence that Hasan was acting on a set of anti-American Islamist beliefs that he describes as "The Narrative" in America vs. The Narrative New York Times 11/28/09. And since our war-lovers also love to be afraid and want us to be afraid, he writs, "What is scary is that even though he was born, raised and educated in America, The Narrative still got to him."

Now, the truth is almost certainly that Tom Friedman knows nothing more about Hasan than he can find in the news, which might give a real journalist pause before describing in his high-profile column what specific ideology it was on which Hasan was operating. But our star pundits regularly read minds, in Maureen Dowd case with the aid of The Voices in her head whose information she periodically shares with us.

Really Friedman is just tossing Hasan in as a scary figure to serve his long-time war chant for how American motives in killing Muslims in wars are pure as driven snow. Funny, though, that isn't the impression I get from Friedman infamous 2003 "Suck.On.This." interview about the Iraq War. In this /column, "Suck.On.This." has transmuted into sweeter words:

Have no doubt: we punched a fist into the Arab/Muslim world after 9/11, partly to send a message of deterrence, but primarily to destroy two tyrannical regimes — the Taliban and the Baathists — and to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics.
Although he does allow, "In the process, we did some stupid and bad things."

Oh, Tom, you mean "stupid and bad things" like invading Iraq based on lies and in violation of the Congressional Resolution authorizing war under specific conditions so that overgrown frat-boy blowhards like you thought some of them thar A-rabs needed to "Suck.On.This."? Uh, no, Friedman doesn't mean that. Glenn Greenwald focuses on this aspect of Friedman's silly column in the ironically titled The crazy, irrational beliefs of Muslims Salon 11/29/09.

And after putting some of his stock war propaganda in the mouth of an anonymousJordainian source - a favorite Big Pundit ploy - he plays Muslim-hater dumb and blames Islam for anti-American violence using the evidence that Muslims don't display sufficient outrage at such acts for Friedman's liking, an obligation that American Christians obviously don't feel for acts of fellow Christians. Did we see millions of Christians demonstrating in the streets of America, much less anywhere else in this world, this past summer when a Christian extremist acting on what certainly look like religious motives based on far more evidence than we've seen about Hasan murdered an abortion doctor in his own church? No, we didn't. This complaint is just a way to demonize the entire religion of Islam. Friedman does it by imagining Obama delivering Friedman's own words in a speech:

In his Cairo speech last June, President Obama effectively built a connection with the Muslim mainstream. Maybe he could spark the debate by asking that same audience this question:

“Whenever something like Fort Hood happens you say, ‘This is not Islam.’ I believe that. But you keep telling us what Islam isn’t. You need to tell us what it is and show us how its positive interpretations are being promoted in your schools and mosques. If this is not Islam, then why is it that a million Muslims will pour into the streets to protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but not one will take to the streets to protest Muslim suicide bombers who blow up other Muslims, real people, created in the image of God? You need to explain that to us — and to yourselves.”
Tom Friedman's blustering blowhard opinions are taken very seriously in the Beltway Village.

Meanwhile, a suspect that looks an awful lot like a would-be far-right terrorist has been arrested in Ohio: Ho hum. Just another would-be domestic terrorist found with a bomb-making lab. Nothing to see here, just move along by Dave Neiwert Crooks and Liars 11/28/09. But our national press corps is largely ignoring it. This character doesn't fit into any of the Long War propaganda scripts that the Tom Friedmans of the Village care about. As Dave puts it:

Of course, if this had been a Muslim extremist caught with such an arsenal, we'd be getting talk-show panels on Hannity featuring Michelle Malkin ranting at length about the threat of Islamic jihad, blah blah blah. Not to mention chatty discussion on Fox and Friends and Morning Joe.

But instead, because he's just a white anti-government extremist, hey, let's just give it a big shrug.
The Tacoma News Tribune reports on the murder of four police officers early Sunday morning: Four police officers shot dead at coffee shop near Parkland by Adam Lynn and Stacey Mulick 11/29/09. The details on the motivations of the killer matter in cases like this for reasons going beyond the prosecution of the perpetrator. Details on the shooter are very sketchy from the article. I'll be curious to see how the press covers this, whether it will become a "lone nut" story or a "Muslim terrorist" story and how well the press script matches to reality.

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