Friday, November 13, 2009

Of course Major Hasan qualifies as a terrorist--but that is the beginning rather than the end of the question

To note: despite Hube's characterization, in the only post I have written about Fort Hood, I described Major Hasan as a lone-wolf terrorist.

By lone wolf I mean that there is currently no evidence that his massacre at Fort Hood was ordered by, directly supported by, or part of the specific agenda of any given group. He attended a radical mosque, he attempted contact with Al Qaeda, he became more overtly radical--but there still seem to be the primary characteristics of a lone wolf about him. Obviously, new data could change that interpretation.

By terrorist I mean that he committed violence for a specific political/religious/ideological reason, at the very least to encourage other Muslims to do so, and to instill a sense of fear in Americans--especially American soldiers--that they can never be safe from retribution. Those are avowedly political objectives for murdering people who have done nothing except belong to a specific population, and that is the classic definition of terrorism.

The fact that his political objectives for murdering people were the furthering of his view of Islam, and the fact that there is a strong congruency between his known views and those espoused by radical Islam make it legitimate to call this an act of radical Islamic terrorism.

The fact that he is possibly also batshit nuts does not invalidate any of the preceding: he was in the legal sense of the word an effective moral actor because his crime was not only premeditated but very carefully planned.

Shorter: the 9/11 hijackers were also batshit nuts, but that doesn't mean they weren't terrorists.

[In fact, batshit nuts may be a terrorist job requirement.]

Having said that, let's think about the Murderer at Fort Hood in tandem with the following cases:

The anti-abortion murderer of Dr George Tiller;

The white supremacist who committed murder at the Holocaust Museum;

The guy in Pittsburgh who murdered several cops because he thought President Obama was going to take his guns.

[You will note that I am not using their names; I spit on all of them by refusing to use their names--the Fort Hood Murderer as well from this point on.]

There is no hard evidence that any of these four killers operated under the direct instructions of a specific group. Did they have relationships--both virtual and personal--with others who shared radicalized views about Islam, abortion, white supremacy, and gun rights? Absolutely.

Were there in all four cases probably indications that we had radicalized and pretty deranged folks out there? You bet.

Now here's the rub:

Were the people who advocate for the causes of radical Islam, radical anti-abortion, radical white supremacy, and radical gun-rights paranoia responsible for their actions?

This is a tough nut for both the Left and the Right because....

If the Right demands that radical Islam [and by extension almost any Muslim] be held accountable for the Fort Hood murderer, then the Right also has to admit a linkage between the radical anti-abortion groups [and by extension all anti-abortion folks] and Dr Tiller's assassin.

But if the Left demands that linkage between the radical anti-abortion groups [and by extension all anti-abortion folks] and Dr Tiller's assassin, then the Left has to admit that radical Islam [and by extension almost any Muslim] should be held accountable for the Fort Hood murderer.

See, you can't have it both ways.

If radicalized speech advocating even theoretical violence is to be held accountable for actual acts of violence by folks who were radicalized but are acting as lone wolf terrorists, then virtually all radicalized speech must be held so accountable, including the radicalized speech of people like Paul Krugman who castigate political opponents as traitors, a word as full of unhidden messages as the description of the GOP as being equivalent to the Taliban.

Likewise, the use of commie is not meant to invoke Karl Marx and a philosophical/political system, but to invoke the image of Stalin and the Great Terror.

The fact is that American political dialogue has become increasingly radicalized in all directions, which I guess is one of the gifts of 9/11. Huh?

Think of it this way: 9/11 forced America into an "us or them" mindset [I'm not saying it wasn't a legitimate response]. The problem is that "us or them" mindsets in foreign policy and world outlook have a way of penetrating into all other areas of your life and discourse.

9/11 shook us to the core: our way of life, some people abruptly realized, could be extinguished. Psychologically speaking, once any threat is identified as that dangerous, all other perceived threats can appear to be equally dangerous, and your political opponents become your ideological oppoonents.

But.... and without having an answer for the world's problems this is as good a place as any to end up....

We are still moral actors and the Murderer of Fort Hood still made a moral choice based on radicalized Islam.

Therefore he is without question all at once an Islamic terrorist, a lone wolf terrorist, and batshit nuts.

Which will satisfy nobody, but if I really cared about that I'd have a larger audience.

3 comments:

townie 76 said...

Steve,

Let me suggest, that using the term terrorists is not necessary; rather call him and the other you referenced what they are murders.

Eric Dondero said...

Why do you assume that all Rightwingers are Pro-Life?

What about us Pro-Choicer Rightwingers? Not aware of any of us Pro-Choicer Righties having any bomb-throwing abortion clinic haters in our midst.

Please explain how it is that those of us who are Pro-Choice and hard Right, are being "hypocritical" for blaming Hasan's radical religionist philsophy of Islam for his terrorist act?

AnonymousOpinion said...


Did they have relationships--both virtual and personal--with others who shared radicalized views about Islam, abortion, white supremacy, and gun rights? Absolutely.


Hey, I'm hard right and pro-life and I was not aware of any of us pro-lifer righties having murderers in our midst.

You should note that pro life organizations were seeking legal and non-violent means to stopping Tiller.

The ideal end to his activities would have been the same way that Abby Johnson decided to stop working for Planned Parenthood - out of conviction that what she was doing was wrong, that the goal was not women's health, but increasing the number and profit from abortions. Planned parenthood has just slapped a gag order on her.

Of course, I condemn the murder and the murderer. I hope and expect he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

But, if you want to point out the connection between this murderer and radicalized anti-abortion groups that advocate murder as a means to stopping abortion I'd be surprised if you could - as the NYT did not find one.

The Pittsburgh shooter was unstable to start with - as a man who gets into fist fights with his neighbors is probably not playing with a full deck. He was also recently fired before his rampage. And I don't know of any radicalized gun rights groups that say it's okay to kill cops.

However, the laundry list of people snapping, and murdering or attempting to murder others in the name of radical Islam, happens more frequently with larger, more organized incidents on an almost quarterly basis.

There is documented evidence that radical Islam imams openly advocate the murder of non believers, Americans, and U.S. soldiers. These imams reach hundreds, not a just a handful of followers.