Understanding Major Nidal Hassan
On November 5, 2009, an Army Major Nidal Hassan, a US Army Psychiatrist, walked in the Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas and started shooting. Ten minutes later, 13 people been murdered and 30 wounded and he himself, lay on the ground, also badly wounded.
What drove the man to commit such horrific violence on his fellow soldiers? Senator Joe Lieberman wanted to declare it an act of terrorism and he was echoed by many others including Gen. Barry McCaffrey; self-styled “experts” on Islam and terrorism such as Walid Phares, were quick to jump on the “Islamic Terrorism” bandwagon with their own declarations. In a superb show of reason, the Defense Department refused to call it an act of terrorism and called it instead, an act of workplace violence
Contrast this with the murders of 16 Afghans committed by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales in Afghanistan, almost three years later. Even as they condemn the killings, media and people manage to introduce his many tours of combat duty, his brain injury and the stress he was under, as if to decrease the enormity of his crimes. “I think the message for the public in general is that he’s one of our boys and they need to treat him fairly.” said John Browne, his defense attorney. After killing the men, women and children, in two different attacks in the same night, he set fire to their bodies.
Getting back to Major Nidal, there is no arguing the fact that he committed heinous crimes, killed innocent people, all because he was upset over the US policies in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Ethiopia, and Somalia and Yemen and Pakistan and…and…and…). Major Nidal was an army Psychiatrist and as such, he heard all kinds of terrible stories from his patients who had returned from duty in the “War!” areas. There is no doubt he heard many horrific stories because after all, he was a military Psychiatrist and his patients trusted him with their inner-most thoughts and told him everything they had done or seen. As a Muslim, Maj. Nidal must have felt deep anguish every time he heard about the many atrocities committed by our men and women in uniform, I have little doubt that his feeling of helplessness over the horrors he continued to hear, sent him off the deep end. Some of the stories he heard were in fact so horrific, that he approached his superiors and suggested that war crimes investigation should be started, but his superiors took no action.
What Maj. Nidal went through was not direct PTSD but a condition known as Vicarious Traumatization suffered by people who are exposed to other people’s trauma as care-givers. After prolonged exposure to what soldiers had done or seen in their battle tours abroad, he must have felt personally targeted because most Muslims consider the US Wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and other countries, as a war against Muslims and slaughters of Muslims. Being in a postion where he is entirely unable to help any of the victims and feeling continually even though vicariously, attacked, he went, as the saying goes, postal; he began his murderous rampage. It is indicative of his unhinged state, that he has grown a beard to further identify himself as a Muslim, perhaps in solidarity with the million-plus Muslims killed since the Afghan invasion began in 2002. He has also decided to represent himself in court, as the saying goes, “He who represents himself in court, has a fool for a client”. Maj. Nidal appears to be so eager to admit he knew what he was doing when he murdered the people, that his legal advisory lawyers have asked to be excused from their responsibilities.
The branches of the US military are deep with hate and fear of Muslims and Islam. Until recently, military officers and others, were actively being trained to keep in mind that Islam and Muslims represent the greatest threat to the US and to the West and that “they” are determined to kill “us all” unless we convert to Islam. Even generals gave lectures on this, one general Boykin portrayed the God of Islam as an idol, forgetting the fact that Muslims regards their God to be the same as the God of Jesus and the God of Moses and Abraham; Boykin was promoted to Under-Secretary of Defense.
Under such conditions, it is not surprising that hate and fear should be commonplace within all ranks of the military.
This deep-seated hate and distrust of Muslims in the US military is what caused some soldiers to urinate on the bodies of some Afghans they killed on suspicion that the victims were “insurgents”. having killed them, the soldiers decided to urinate on the dead bodies because, as one soldier said, “If an infidel touches the body, they’re not going to Mecca or paradise. So, now these insurgents see what happens when you mess with us“. Such false beliefs about Islam and Muslims are commonplace among our Military and law-enforcement agencies which make for very dangerous situations when fully-armed, uniformed men and women come across anyone they have been trained to believe, want them dead, no matter what.
In such a climate, Muslim soldiers and law-enforcement agents have a most testing time when trying to serve their duties alongside their non-Muslim comrades. Thankfully, the Muslim members of the Military and law enforcement do not “go Postal”, but obviously, Maj. Nidal was exposed to tremendous horrors, his psyche could not handle it and he snapped, with horrific consequences.
This article must not be interpreted as sympathy for the horrors committed by Maj. Nidal, if anything it is a complete rejection of what he did. However, we also must not fall into the seductive position that anyone attacking our soldiers is a terrorist. The Department of Defense is correct in classifying the Fort Hood murders as workplace violence. What is urgently needed now, is an organized plan to counter and discredit the myths and fantasies about Islam and Muslims, that have been hammered into tens of thousands of our soldiers, Police and FBI.
Until the Administration maps out such a plan, there is going to be a continually-widening gap between Muslims and non-Muslims in America, particularly among the non-0Muslim members of our Military and law enforcement services. Sadly, the political climate created by our opportunistic politicians have so poisoned the atmosphere against Muslims, that there is not yet, the political will to implement a plan to negate the false information about Islam, pounded into Americans by the multitudes of self-styled “experts on Islam and terrorism”, paid for, by our tax dollars.
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