One word aptly describes Ft. Hood mass murderer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan: traitor.
Traitor is a tough word. It doesn't smudge and squish. "Traitor" draws a hard line, one that sharply divides essential life-determining values and marks a defining personal choice between the profound and the profane.
There is no question that the accusation of treason, like accusations involving its kin terms sedition and betrayal, has been grossly abused.
Self-styled mainstream journalists with no regard for the awful moral weight and terrible consequences of the actual act of sedition heedlessly employ the accusation as a word weapon to thwart discomfiting political criticism. For example, Time Magazine's Joe Klein wrote this past Oct. 23 that "some of" what Fox News presents ("peddles" was Klein's verb) "borders on sedition."
Klein's rash innuendo (so indicative of people who live in a relatively safe world protected by cops and soldiers) is lightweight prostitution compared to the thoroughly dirty work of the hard left propagandists at MoveOn.org, who all but called Gen. David Petraeus a traitor.
I am referring to the infamous ad of Sept. 10, 2007, titled "GENERAL PETRAEUS OR GENERAL BETRAY US?" For $650,000 (a discount rate), The New York Times obliged MoveOn's smear in cold type. To be a traitor was to disagree with MoveOn.org over not simply how to fight to win the war in Iraq but to fight it at all.
MoveOn whined that it was exercising freedom of speech, but that corrupt outfit was operating in the grand tradition of Sen. Joe McCarthy, architect of the 1950s Senate "McCarthy Hearings," which investigated alleged communist infiltration of American institutions. Tail Gunner Joe practiced destructive public smearing (cloaked in the name of patriotism) to advance his own personal power.
We now call this vicious excess McCarthyism. President Dwight Eisenhower hammered McCarthy when the senator alleged the military was filled with traitors. Ike exercised more than the power of the presidency, he had the moral authority of a bona fide war hero.
Indeed, accusations of treason and sedition by irreparably bad actors like McCarthy and MoveOn have grotesquely scarred the terms.
With Hasan, however, we move well beyond accusation. Hasan committed an act of treason. Count the bodies, dead and wounded, for they are harsh facts, and they are the consequences.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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