Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Major Hasan: Terrorist?

I've been reading some of the buzz and furor over the use of the term "terrorist" to describe the Fort Hood shooter. Before any investigation had even started, the term was used as loosely as the color-coded terror alerts of the Bush administration. Some of us thought that maybe we should get some facts before we decided that Major Hasan was part of some Al Qaeda conspiracy to attack Americans on military bases. You know, like maybe he's just a nutter?

So how odd is it now to read David Brooks, in the NY Times today, complaining that we liberals were all in a rush to declare Hasan was NOT a terrorist. Brooks shakes his head and wonders at our misplaced political correctness. Why couldn't we just wait and see what we learned from the investigation?

Here's good old David:

It’s important to tamp down vengeful hatreds in moments of passion. But it was also patronizing. Public commentators assumed the air of kindergarten teachers who had to protect their children from thinking certain impermissible and intolerant thoughts. If public commentary wasn’t carefully policed, the assumption seemed to be, then the great mass of unwashed yahoos in Middle America would go off on a racist rampage. Worse, it absolved Hasan — before the real evidence was in — of his responsibility.
Jeez, Mr Brooks. Seems to me that we all wondered about the shooter at Virginia Tech, and the shooters at Columbine and in other cases of similar violence. Hasan may be a Muslim, but he is also an American. Is it so wrong to suspect that the causes of his actions may be more complex than the instant branding as a terrorist implies?

What Brooks misses in this story is obvious -- liberals have reacted to this story with grief and with open minds, wanting to understand the causes, however bizarre or straightforward they may turn out to be; conservatives got the grief part too but came to the story with conclusions in their pockets, and minds that are closed tight. To Brooks, it is so clear the guy is a terrorist, that any attempt to weigh other possibilities is seen as "absolution."

Look, Hassan is a traitor and a murdering coward. He may have been influenced by his religion, and may even have connections to Al Qaeda. As we learn more, it appears very possible that we will all agree he is a terorist. Till then, Joe Lieberman and FOX News will be certain he is, and I will still be waiting for the investigation to provide the facts. If Brooks is serious, he is preaching to the wrong side of the church.

posted at 5:20:00 PM by Neil

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