Most if not all of you would have by now heard about the gunman running riot at the US Army base at Fort Hood, Texas – yet another story of an American going apeshit with a loaded weapon resulting in the deaths of a dozen servicemen and women and injury to many more.
This story however is one with a grisly twist in that the crazy shooter, one Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was a Muslim of Jordanian descent.
Naturally, the story has thrown the entire country – and armies of journalists and commentators across the globe – into a scribbling frenzy. While we have had those in the neocon Amen Corner babbling on about Islamic terrorism, those on the left have been quick to counter with the argument that Hasan’s religion had nothing to do with his decision to open fire on his erstwhile colleagues, and that it was yet a simple case of his being driven by a range of psychological problems.
The truth, as we will no doubt discover when the facts begin to emerge and the hubbub dies down, probably lies somewhere in between.
From reading initial reports, it would appear that Maj. Hasan – who ironically was an Army specialist in mental health Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC – was a devout Muslim who had for years expressed reservations about the ongoing struggle in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that he had been driven to the very brink by the fear of being posted to one of these locations. Not a comfortable position to be in whichever way one chooses to look at it, but clearly not enough to conclude that he was some sort of terrorist with any sort of long-term or thought-out agenda.
On the other hand, those who have argued that Hasan’s religious convictions are irrelevant are clearly deluding themselves – the fact that the man had expressed such strong reservations about the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq for years suggests that there was clearly a conflict between his loyalty to the country of his birth on the one hand and his religion on the other. This was an outrage perpetrated by a man who was caught in a psychological bind – and whether some of us like it or not, his religion was a very obvious motivating factor.
Islam is more than just a religious faith; it is also a political ideology, a fundamental way of life that can be – depending on how far you take it – incredibly uncompromising. It naturally demands a certain degree of loyalty, and so long as this loyalty remains in place there will always be room for doubt when trying to understand the mindset and motivation of those Muslims who claim to be part of Western society. On the one hand they appear willing to go along with the flow, but at the same time they fiercely cling onto beliefs that very clearly hark back to the dark ages. It is the sort of warped mindset that might make someone shout “Allahu Akbar!” before opening fire on his colleagues.
It is my belief that one can never truly be both a devout Muslim and a happy, cooperative member of Western society, as at some point contradictions will crop up – contradictions that to a devout Muslim would be non-negotiable. Communal showers at sports clubs. Dinnertime at school. Attitudes to women and girls. A night out with the lads down at the pub.
Being sent to serve your country in a Muslim country such as Afghanistan or Iraq.
Some have attempted to portray Hasan as the victim in all this, with some of his relatives suggesting that he had been harrassed over his Middle Eastern origins and Muslim beliefs. One is not going to suggest this sort of thing may or may not have happened – it must have been hard for any Muslim serviceman post-9/11 – but we aren’t talking about some wet behind the ears greenhorn recruit here. Hasan had reached the rank of major, not something that can be achieved overnight; he had joined the Army not long after leaving high school, which suggests he would have served the best part of two decades in the military.
While a general antipathy towards Muslims among those in the US military would have peaked in 2001 following the September 11th attacks, it had always been bubbling under the surface after the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and the first invasion of Iraq in 1991; quite simply, the argument that Maj. Hasan had been forced to endure a life of harrassment just does not wash, for if this were the case he would have left the Army long before.
There is also the argument that Hasan’s having to deal with injured and psychologically damaged comrades during the course of his work at the Walter Reed Center had caused him to snap; this too is highly dubious in that the natural reaction to this would not have involved randomly shooting your colleagues and adding to the list of casualties. It just doesn’t make sense.
Rather than trying to point the finger at his colleagues, I’d argue that Hasan decided to develop his devotion to Islam after the 9/11 attacks, which not only created a conflict of interest but made his position in the US military increasingly untenable. This need to show a wider Islamic solidarity was not an uncommon phenomenon; one only needs to have observed the sudden surge of veil-wearers after 9/11.
My conclusion is rather inevitable, in that I’d simply go back to the idea that Islam and Western societal mores are essentially incompatible: it’s a sad case of never the twain shall meet. Those that believe that Islam and Western society can peacefully co-exist are living in a fantasy world, for it is a simple fact that those Muslims whom we would see as moderate would not even be seen as Muslims by some of their more aggressive brethren; they’d simply be among those infidels lined up to be killed in any impending Jihad.
It would simply be better if so-called moderate Muslims who wish to be part of mainstream Western society were to jettison their association with this archaic religious doctrine entirely; it would get what is a rather nasty monkey off their back, and at the same time let the rest of us know where we all stand.