It makes no sense to see Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, as represented in at least one family account, as the victim of "harassment" by fellow soldiers (and therefore a candidate for "understanding"?) He's an officer. Soldiers don't harass officers.
It makes no sense to suggest he'd been traumatized by narratives he had heard concerning the awfulness of combat in Iraq and therefore resisted the idea of deployment there. He's an Army psychiatrist, not a rifleman. Since when, anyway -- read "The Iliad" for confirmation -- has combat been other than awful?
It makes sense to ponder deeply -- I did not say "conclude," I said ponder deeply -- the possibility that in Maj. Nidal the Army had, unwittingly, in its bosom a treasonable viper; a supporter of Islamic jihad against the West and the United States; a soldier who, in violation of military oath and citizenship, opened fire on soldiers as he cried, "Allahu Akbar." "Allahu Akbar" is the familiar cry of Islamic terrorists all over the world as they pounce on the unwitting.
We shall see about all this in due course. We'd better prepare meantime to learn some things we'd rather not learn, such as that a swath of international Islam -- indeterminate in size but nonetheless vicious -- wishes all Americans dead; and that allegiance to Islam can override any considerations of loyalty to, or appreciation for, the United States.
A day or two before the Fort Hood bloodbath, an Afghan policeman made a kindred declaration of hatred for the West. When the British soldiers who had worked and lived with him were at ease, he mowed down five and then escaped. Whether, in so doing, he shouted, "Allahu Akbar," I haven't read. It would have fit.
Scoundrels who shoot their comrades aren't unknown in military annals. It happens in every war -- even the "good" ones. It horrifies out of proportion to other deeds, in that civilization teaches respect for friends and friendship. Just here, fanatics, such as Muslim murderers, have made famous uprisings in denial of civilization itself. The mass murderer doesn't ponder the personal qualities of those he intends to annihilate -- babies, teenagers, mothers, fathers, whoever happens to be there. He throws his hands in the air. "Allahu Akbar." Boom!
The mass slaughter of innocents is un-American (save in decisive instances such as Hiroshima). We basically don't get it. Surely it can't be on account of hatred. We explore alternative possibilities. The poor guy suffered from lack of love. Others were mean to him. He was mentally confused. He snapped -- yes, maybe that was it. He snapped, as with various school and post office massacres.
None of which speaks to the terrifying possibility that particular killers particularly hate and scorn and despise the victims, as on 9/11, as with the London bus bombings and the commuter rail bombings in Spain. And the Fort Hood massacre?
That we can't know yet. A careful society, nevertheless, mindful both of human lives and human freedoms, has to brace itself for the possibility that in the war on terror a new domestic front could be opening.
Responsible Muslims, to their undoubted credit, have denounced the Fort Hood massacre. That hardly means other Muslims do not rub their hands in satisfaction as they await future opportunities to gun down soldiers and civilians engaged in shoring up civilization. Murderers of any and all religions hate civilization as a living reproach to … themselves and their notions.
The war on terror isn't over or even much abated, for all the domestic recoil from waterboarding and Guantanamo and "unconstitutional" assaults on civil liberties.
Down the highway a piece from my own city, Dallas, the fighting appears to go on. May I be mistaken in this! That would be wonderful. The guy snapped -- what a relief it would prove to many if this were the case. We could go back to rooting for more apologies by President Obama for national arrogance. And yet that privilege may not be available. We need to brace ourselves.