Cliff May

When a military officer participates in a war against his own country, that is high treason, and that is the charge that ought to be brought against Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. But it's not going to happen.

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Hasan should have been weeded out of the military long ago. There was abundant evidence that his allegiance was not to the United States -- the country that had given his immigrant family safe haven and provided him the opportunity to become, at taxpayer expense, a physician, an officer and a gentleman. It was apparent that he had come to view himself not as an American soldier but as a "Soldier of Allah" -- the phrase he had printed on his business cards - and that sooner or later he would wage war against the "unbelievers."

Why did none of those who saw something say something? In a culture where the value of diversity trumps the requirements of security, to do so would have been career suicide. There was no way that was going to happen.

Let's be clear: The lesson of Fort Hood is not that Muslims in the U.S. military are a fifth column. But neither can we continue to blithely assume that someone like Hasan - American-born, well educated, apparently sophisticated -- could never succumb to the temptations of what the politically correct call "violent extremism."

Paradoxically, the Fort Hood massacre highlights the fact that Muslims soldiers who are doing their duty as proud, patriotic Americans are extraordinarily independent-minded and brave. Because while there is no evidence that Hasan was ever harassed for being a Muslim -- as some of his relatives have charged -- there is a long record of Muslims who criticize Islamists being denounced as apostates - a sin that can bring a fatwa and the death penalty. "Patriotism is paganism," the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini famously said. Khomeini was a Shia Islamist but on this theological point Sunni Islamists emphatically agree.

Out of ignorance or wishful thinking, Western commentators sometimes assert that Muslims who preach intolerance and belligerence are "heretics" who have "hijacked" a great and peaceful religion. But no Muslim authority would say that - not even those who denounce terrorism. How, after all, can a fundamentalist be a heretic? How can someone who insists on a literal reading of the Koran be accused of misrepresenting what it says?

Some Western commentators also assert that there is a "civil war" taking place within "the Muslim world." It would be simpler and more encouraging if that were the case.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.