There is a lot of heat on the milbogs now about the official reaction to the Ft. Hood atrocity – an official reaction which plays down, rather than playing up, the Islamist chain of causality that led to Maj. Hassan stepping up on a table and drawing his gun.
I disagree. I think it’s the right thing to do, and Lynch explains why decently well:
Since the Ft Hood atrocity, I’ve seen a meme going around that it somehow exposed a contradiction between “political correctness” and “security.” The avoidance of Nidal Hassan’s religion out of fear of offending anyone, goes the argument, created the conditions which allowed him to go undetected and unsanctioned in the months and years leading up to his rampage. American security, therefore, demands dropping the “political correctness” of avoiding a confrontation with Islamist ideas and asking the “tough questions” about Islam as a religion and the loyalty of Muslim-Americans.
This framing of the issue is almost 100% wrong.
There is a connection between what these critics are calling “political correctness” and national security, but it runs in the opposite direction. The real linkage is that there is a strong security imperative to prevent the consolidation of a narrative in which America is engaged in a clash of civilizations with Islam, and instead to nurture a narrative in which al-Qaeda and its affiliates represent a marginal fringe to be jointly combated. Fortunately, American leaders — from the Obama administration through General George Casey and top counter-terrorism officials — understand this and have been acting appropriately.
It’s worth walking through the connection once again, because how America responds to Ft. Hood really is important in the wider attempt to change the nature of its engagement with Muslim publics across the world. Get the response right, as the administration thus far has done, and they show that things really have changed. Get it wrong, as its critics demand, and the world could tumble back down into the ‘clash of civilizations’ trap which al-Qaeda so dearly wants and which the improved American approach of the last couple of years has increasingly denied it.
Note – importantly – that I flatly disagree with the notion that ‘political correctness’ had nothing to do with the reluctance of Maj. Hassan’s peers to report his increasingly bizarre behavior up the chain of command.
I do believe that we need to accept that certain kinds of behavior are unacceptable – most of all in the Armed Services – and that whether you’re white and sporting a Christian Identity t-shirt, black and wearing Rolling 60’s tattoos, or Muslim and spouting Salafi and Islamist ideology – in any of those cases you’ve stepped over a line and need to pulled out of uniform.
But I do agree that firewalling between Hassan’s Islamist craziness and his Muslim beliefs is important.
I believed in 2003 and believe today that the goal is to keep the conflict from widening into a “Muslim’ v. “Western” one. Within the Muslim world, the Islamist crazies are a small minority, and the primary goal should be to make them a smaller one. By painting all Muslims with the murderer’s beliefs, we make that harder.
I ask you; should we ban all white fundamentalist Christians from the Military because of the actions of a few extremists? All African-Americans so that no members of street gangs serve? You see where I’m going with this…no, of course not.
We need to ruthlessly seek out and stamp out Islamist believers who wear our uniform. We don’t need to – and would be worse off if we did, morally and practically – do the same to pious Muslims.
Now the question is how we can tell the difference.