Friday, November 13, 2009

Analyzing Major Nidal Hassan

In most Muslim countries, the military would not dither over the issue. In Turkey, for example, the armed forces impose a strictly secular ethos on their personnel. Over the years, scores of stealthy Islamists have been identified and unceremoniously booted out for trying to proselytize fellow soldiers and generally undermine the army's values. In less-forgiving countries like Syria, such offenders tend to disappear without a trace or get funneled clandestinely into terror cells for missions abroad.

In places like Algeria, Egypt and Libya, Muslim officers watch over their Muslim conscripts with relentless scrutiny lest any unscripted forms of freelance worship sneak into the picture. Their prisons are full of Muslim Brotherhood conspirators undergoing torture--if they haven't already disappeared into secret graves. In Saddam's military, turbulent believers often went straight to the frontlines during the Iran-Iraq war. Others found that their views rebounded onto the limbs and lives of family members in the most palpable of ways.

Many Muslims desperately flee these countries for the West in order to pursue their more extreme brand of Islam. We give them the freedom to do so--in effect the freedom to hate us. Whether Major Hasan's enormity derived from jihadist motives or because he snapped under emotional strain, he clearly acted out of religious feelings on that day, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" as he shot his fellow soldiers. The New York Times cannot claim that Muslims suffer unbearable prejudice in the Army and then claim that Major Hasan's conduct had no link to his being a Muslim. There's the rub: Does the Army have any propaganda courses at officer level? Was anyone tasked with the job of telling Major Hasan what life might be like for him in a Muslim military? He would not have stayed around, or alive, long enough to explore his hurt feelings as a Muslim.

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