The Fertile Crescent

David Stokes
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Posted: Nov 15, 2009 12:01 AM
The Fertile Crescent

Every time I read, view, or hear the latest attempt to portray Nidal Malik Hasan as a “loner” or “victim of racism” or “psychotic” – or (this may be my favorite) someone suffering from something called “PRE-traumatic stress disorder,” I am torn between the desire to scream or laugh.  My internal conflict increases when I hear Chicago Mayor Daley suggest the problem is that Americans love guns too much. 

Arguing with Idiots By Glenn Beck

And then there’s the granddaddy of all recent rhetorical absurdities when Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey uttered the incredibly clueless thought: “What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here.”

Can someone explain to me how the death of 14 (one of the victims was pregnant) can be trumped by the importance of a particular political agenda?  The General should include a very real apology in his resignation letter.

It would be funny if not for the fact that it is all so dangerously sad.  As I take it all in, it’s like the ghost of Groucho Marx is sitting on one of my shoulders making me smile at the outrageousness of such comments with his famous, “Who are you going to believe?  Me?  Or your own eyes?”  This is all balanced by the difficult to ignore presence of the ghost of Gen. George S. Patton, who sits on the other shoulder and regularly fills that ear (this would be the right ear, by the way – in every sense of that word) with words I am not completely able to translate in this column. 

Psychologists use the term “denial” to describe a way some people interpret reality.  This manifests itself in denying something ever actually happened, or that it happened but it wasn’t to big of a deal (the “isolated event” approach), or even in something called “projection” which admits that something has indeed happened, but deflects blame and responsibility.  We are a nation in official and pervasive denial.  

During the Cuban Missile Crisis (c. 1962), if an American soldier would have opened fire on his comrades while wearing a Che Guevera T-shirt and yelling, “Long Live Lenin, Khruschev, and Castro,” it is doubtful that the guy’s communist sympathies would have been dismissed as irrelevant and peripheral.  The commies were the enemy.  And, if an investigation into his background would have yielded clues to his political feelings and fanaticism, there is no doubt that the case would have been a slam-dunk.   And those who should have picked up on his radicalism before the awful fact would have been held accountable.

In fact, if some white-hooded fool were to open fire on a group today in the name of a fiery cross and a virulent racist perversion of certain passages in the Christian Bible, it is unlikely that such a terrorist would have any apologists reluctant to tie what he did to what he believed.  Religious violence, be it of the cross or crescent, is always worthy of condemnation and contempt.

But when it comes to Islamism, the various contortions some use to distance what a Jihadist did from the ideology that so-obviously informed his actions are very difficult to watch.  

Of course, I very much understand the complexities of this issue.  We are a free society and among the most precious of those freedoms is that of religion.   But as with another vital right – the freedom of speech – there are clear limits.  You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater.   And religious liberty notwithstanding, you cannot advocate the violent overturning of our constitutional way of life in this country in the name of any God.  

Anyone, therefore, who embraces Sharia law and believes that it should become the code of a new America, should be disqualified from serving in the military.  At any rate – how can they really take the required oath?   Clearly one day long ago, the Fort Hood terrorist said:

“I, Nidal Malik Hasan, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." 

We are told “officially” that there are 3,572 Muslims in our military ranks.  Although it’s interesting to note that The American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council has that number much higher, in fact, four times higher – at more than 15,000.  What do they know that those in the barracks don’t? 

Some might want to counter that bad things have been done – violently so – in this country and the world throughout history, in the name of my religion – Christianity.   And, sadly, I must confess that this has been the case, on occasion.  But it has never been the norm.  And those who do such stuff certainly don’t get their instructions from Christian doctrine.

To get from the teachings of Jesus to murderous evil requires a tortured, twisted, ignorant, and monumentally long journey.  Yes, people have done bad things in Christ’s name – but in doing so they have, in effect, denied him.

Some ideologies, however, are much more friendly to the evil that lurks in the hearts of men.   For example, when it comes to economic theory, you are hard pressed to find any possible pathway from Milton Friedman’s monetary ideas to killing a bunch of people.   On the other hand, when you take a look at the writings of Karl Marx (no relation to Groucho), history has shown that the distance from theory to bloodshed is not all that far.  In fact, Marxism and violence are close cousins because you really have to force people to turn from self-interest – all for their own good, of course. 

The thing that too many in our nation are simply ignoring is that when it comes to Islam, as opposed to any other religious idea extant, the journey from ideology to what happened at Fort Hood is also not a very long one.  For any Christian to become so radicalized as to open fire people in the name of his or her religion would require a virtual repudiation of the faith.  Could it happen?  Sure – anything can happen.  And if it did, the mainstream media in this country would have no qualms about wrapping the deed around the doctrine.

But the quantifiable fact is that such things really don’t happen with Christians the way they do with Muslims.  And even when certain violent acts by professed Christians, such as the killing of a doctor who has performed abortions, make the news, usually among the first and loudest expressions of condemnation and outrage are from Christians. 

Does anyone hear all that many Muslim voices condemning Hasan? 

Much has been made of the fact that the Fort Hood Jihadist/Terrorist was harassed for his beliefs.  First, let me be clear – I think it is wrong, un-American, and certainly un-Christian to at all persecute someone for what is believed and practiced in the context of our Constitutional freedoms.   And when it comes to Christians – who have known the pain of persecution throughout the centuries – there is no Biblical mandate for a follower of Jesus to ever persecute another human being.  If fact, in our way of thinking, and from the wonderful Jewish scriptures that inform our faith, we are ever admonished to love neighbor as self.  

The Christian response to persecution is never to be that of reactive violence.   The Apostle Peter gave instruction near the end of his life on this matter:

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”  – I Peter 3:13-16 (NIV)

Gentleness, respect, hope, and love – these are the watchwords of the follower of Jesus.  But there is no “turn the other cheek” stuff in Islam.  And at some point people in this country need to stop ignoring the obvious. 

So I respect my Muslim neighbors and want them to be treated justly.   This means, when there is peace, community, love of law, love of country, all will be well.  And when these values are violently violated there must be justice of another kind – to punish evil, especially the egregious wickedness of terrorist murder. 

But I also, taking another cue from Jesus, must be “wise as a serpent,” and this means I need to be aware that certain ideologies are more fertile when it comes to hate and violence.   And, like it or not, they – and those who espouse such teachings – need to be watched very carefully. 

Too many people have been looking the other way in America.  It’s time to focus.