Friday, November 13, 2009

Terrorist or Madman?

The right and the left have been involved in a tussle over whether the Fort Hood shooter is a terrorist/jihadist or a madman/criminal.

Isn't there quite a bit of evidence he is both?

I realize this is a rather naive question. The tussle is not really about what Major Hasan is, it is about various other things, with Hasan serving as a proxy for the real issues. In both cases, the arguments have a sub-text that is the real message. And I have serious doubts about both of these messages.

I think the subtext on the left is something like: Please, let's not emphasize this person's religion or any Islamist motives behind what he did. It might hurt the feelings of the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Muslim Americans and provoke the general public to turn against them. Surely this is an insult, both the Muslim Americans and the general public. For the past eight years the American public has made it very clear that it can distinguish between a Muslim and a jihadist. They didn't take their anger over 9/11 out on their Muslim neighbors and colleagues: why would they start now? And the Muslims I know don't get all trembly when the subject of Muslim terrorism comes up. Give people some credit for their rationality and decency. Behind the don't-say-terrorist position I think detect a real contempt for the average human being.

I suspect that the subtext of the argument from the right is something like this: Now do you see why we are in Aghanistan and Iraq? This is what the war on terror is all about! We should be doing more, maybe much more! No, this is not what the war on terror -- if this includes the invasions of those two countries -- is about. This atrocity is "blowback" -- part of the unintended consequences -- of those efforts. If we had never invaded Afghanistan or Iraq, those thirteen people would be alive today. I am not saying this is a good reason for not invading those countries. I am only saying it is no sort of reason for the other side.

Is he a madman or a terrorist? People don't have arguments about questions that have such obvious answers. They are really arguing about something else. And I say a pox on both their houses.
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