A Fort Hood cover-up?

Gates And Mullen Discuss Initial Safety Review Of Ft Hood

When I first heard that the U.S. military’s report into the Fort Hood shootings made no mention of the role religion played, I didn’t have high hopes for the media coverage. Perhaps this is unfair to both groups but I expect the media to be more politically correct than the military.

So I was surprised to see this Time magazine story take on the issue so directly. Reporter Mark Thompson explains the situation, noting that lawmakers and others aren’t exactly pleased with how religion was handled in the report:

John Lehman, a member of the 9/11 commission and Navy Secretary during the Reagan Administration, says a reluctance to cause offense by citing Hasan’s view of his Muslim faith and the U.S. military’s activities in Muslim countries as a possible trigger for his alleged rampage reflects a problem that has gotten worse in the 40 years that Lehman has spent in and around the U.S. military. The Pentagon report’s silence on Islamic extremism “shows you how deeply entrenched the values of political correctness have become,” he told TIME on Tuesday. “It’s definitely getting worse, and is now so ingrained that people no longer smirk when it happens.”

The apparent lack of curiosity into what allegedly drove Hasan to kill isn’t in keeping with the military’s ethos; it’s a remarkable omission for the U.S. armed forces, whose young officers are often ordered to read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War with its command to know your enemy. In midcareer, they study the contrast between capabilities and intentions, which is why they aren’t afraid of a British nuclear weapon but do fear the prospect of Iran getting one.

The story is brief, so perhaps that’s why it doesn’t include the mention of what the Army’s top officer, Gen. George Casey, said following the attack: “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

The reporter does note that the leaders of the review say they weren’t interested in looking at motivations and they were worried of running afoul of the criminal probe of Hasan. Here’s what’s next:

But without a motive, there would have been no murder. Hasan wore his radical Islamic faith and its jihadist tendencies in the same way he wore his Army uniform. He allegedly proselytized within the ranks, spoke out against the wars his Army was waging in Muslim countries and shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is great) as he gunned down his fellow soldiers. Those who served alongside Hasan find the Pentagon review wanting. “The report demonstrates that we are unwilling to identify and confront the real enemy of political Islam,” says a former military colleague of Hasan, speaking privately because he was ordered not to talk about the case. “Political correctness has brainwashed us to the point that we no longer understand our heritage and cannot admit who, or what, the enemy stands for.”

This paragraph is interesting. I actually don’t disagree that Hasan was open about his radical views. But is “proselytizing” a demonstration of radicalism? Is all evangelism or sharing of the faith a sign of being a radical extremist? Even if it’s not appropriate behavior for active military on the job, is the simple sharing of religious views now considered proof of radicalism? Perhaps this claim would be better supported by other evidence, of which there is much.

The last paragraph speaks to the military report, but I think there’s a journalistic point as well:

The report lumps in radical Islam with other fundamentalist religious beliefs, saying that “religious fundamentalism alone is not a risk factor” and that “religious-based violence is not confined to members of fundamentalist groups.” But to some, that sounds as if the lessons of 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq, where jihadist extremism has driven deadly violence against Americans, are being not merely overlooked but studiously ignored.

One of the main reasons why I wish that reporters would do a better job of digging into the story of radical Islam is because, by avoiding it, they further the idea that all Muslims are suspect. Not all Muslims are Muslim terrorists or seek to be Muslim terrorists. Percentage-wise, we’re talking about a small group of people. The public is highly aware of at least some link between Islam and terror. But if we can’t have real discussions about religious differences for fear of being politically incorrect, the danger is that it will tarnish all of Islam instead of just that subset affiliated with terror. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the military would be reticent to look at the role of religion in this attack. Thankfully the media can hold them at least somewhat accountable.

Print Friendly

  • http://www.reenchantment.net Ken Larson

    In a January 15th Wall Street Journal piece by Michael Phillips on the Ft. Hood report, the article states:

    “Among other things, they recommended that commanders be given more authority to probe service members’ outside activities that might signal political or religious radicalization.

    “The review didn’t specify, though, how commanders should keep tabs on messages being delivered at mosques or churches.

    “The review also warned that radical groups may use their status as religious organizations to get allies into the military’s chaplain programs. It didn’t cite any examples of that happening.

    The military has limited authority to reject such groups as “ecclesiastical endorsers,” which “could allow undue improper influence by individuals with a propensity toward violence,” the review said.”

    I’ve spoken to some chaplains and voiced my concern that if Mr. Phillips’ take on the report is accurate, the military is doing what Mollie suggests and lumping ALL religions together in a bag of suspicion. The chaplains remind me that their presence is always scrutinized by the Brass looking for a way to cut costs. But this bias seems to go beyond any eye-shade rationale.

    A few years ago I discovered that in and around San Antonio, Texas where they have a few Air Force and other military installations, that there are five mosques; two of which are on a base. Surprised? I was! It’s Texas. But we cannot be blind to what’s going on in Europe and not refuted in the pages of such books like Mark Steyn’s America Alone.

  • http://spiritnewsdaily.com don

    Once again, no person is being held accountable in our government when they make a terrible mistake. In the private sector, several people would have been fired. Government work is great if you can get it.

    don

  • Dave

    But is “proselytizing” a demonstration of radicalism? Is all evangelism or sharing of the faith a sign of being a radical extremist? Even if it’s not appropriate behavior for active military on the job, is the simple sharing of religious views now considered proof of radicalism?

    Good question, Mollie. The Pagan blogosphere is full of tales of Christian proselytizing within the Army, and the evident blind eye (at best) the brass turns toward it. Perhaps it was not PC but fear of committing actual bias that turned the same blind eye to Hasan’s proselytizing.

    To chew into this the media would have to dig into two stories not seeming related and connect the dots.

  • Paul Blase


    Not all Muslims are Muslim terrorists or seek to be Muslim terrorists.

    But any Muslim who wishes to be faithful to the tenets of his/her faith will support the actions of the jihadi extremists.
    Issues Etc has a good interview on this topic – see “The French Burka Ban” featuring Dr. Srdja Trifkovic of the Rockford Institute, January 20, 2010.
    See also Islam Watch and
    Jihad Watch.
    The fundamental problem, which we in the west refuse to recognize, is that Islam does not acknowledge any separation between church and state. Islam is a political worldview and system of government as well as a religion, and its followers all – if they are at all faithful to Mohammad’s commands, desire to impose Shariah law and a caliphate upon any country in which they reside.

  • Jerry

    One of the main reasons why I wish that reporters would do a better job of digging into the story of radical Islam is because, by avoiding it, they further the idea that all Muslims are suspect.

    But any Muslim who wishes to be faithful to the tenets of his/her faith will support the actions of the jihadi extremists.

    Mollie, you are not only 100% correct but the misinformation shown by Paul Blase’s post is a perfect illustration of the problem.

  • http://www.perpetuaofcarthage.blogspot.com Perpetua

    I was so impressed to see Time take this on.

    It just came out that a federal appellate court has ruled that the U.S. government had the right to fire a Muslim nuclear physicist who designed military warships and doubled as an Imam denouncing America’s war against Middle Eastern terrorism.

    I didn’t even know such a case was pending. I hope the media take this up. And asks why the US military is so concerned about political correctness with regard to Islam while the Department of Energy had the courage to fire this man.

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2010/jan/court-favors-u-s-muslim-scientist-firing

  • Peter

    And asks why the US military is so concerned about political correctness with regard to Islam while the Department of Energy had the courage to fire this man.

    The article is the kind of unbalanced, opinion-based journalism at Time that is usually criticized here.

    To Perpetua’s point, if you read about the Energy Dept. employee, the court didn’t say DoE wasn’t justified in terminating him just because he was an imam, but instead National Security rules prevented any real inquiry into whether the agency was justified to fire just because he was a Muslim clergy.

    The problem with the Hasan story is that the evidence that he was a “radical” or “extremist” is thin at best. Maybe they will introduce more evidence at trial, but what we know now does’t necessarily lead to the conclusion he was a radical.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Peter,

    The article is the kind of unbalanced, opinion-based journalism at Time that is usually criticized here.

    Well, I didn’t think it was unbalanced, although I only excerpted from one side here. But I also criticized this article for how it got religion. So I’m not sure what you mean.

  • Peter

    Not a single person was quoted who defended the report. That’s not balance. But that’s how Time approaches things, which is fine, but usually that kind of opinionating wouldn’t have gone unmentioned here. That’s my only point.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Well, the only people out there who are defending the report weren’t speaking to reporters until their testimony. As it said in the article.

    I think the journalists did a good job of not just explaining their lack of “quote” but providing the defense in absence of said quotes.

    I certainly would not criticize a reporter in such circumstances, particularly for such a brief article.

    As I noted, I thought it should have included the quote from the General who said that loss of diversity would be a bigger tragedy than loss of lives. But, on the other hand, there’s only so much space.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    I don’t usually have much use for military analysis by the late ommunist leader Mao. But, if I recall correcdtly, he constantly stressed how the people are the sea in which Communist revolutionaries swim and the people (sea) are what gives life and strength to revolutionaries (terrorists).
    I have yet to see this military analysis applied to the Islamic situation in the media. Yet during the Viet Nam war it was a constant refrain here in the West explaining why Communist revolutions were so successful and difficult to put down— millions of unknown average people quietly supported the worst of the worst. And this seems true of many Islamic countries–the Islamic terrorists are swimming in a very supportive Islamic sea.
    Another part of the story not covered by the blind MSM, but easy to follow on the internet–is the violence directed at non-Moslems all aroud the world by Moslems not directly associated with known terrorists. When such stories show up in the MSM they are usually presented as a “clash” between Moslems and Christians (or others) directly implying an equality of blame.
    But so often, if you can get your hands on the whole story, the non-Moslems have been the victims of “jihad” style attacks and were defending themselves—very rarely are the non-Moslems the initiators of the violence.

  • David Adrian

    See “Hood massacre report gutless and shameful,” column by Ralph Peters in the New York Post at http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/hood_massacre_report_gutless_and_yaUphSPCoMs8ux4lQdtyGM.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X