Fort HoodDAVID WARREN
For a person with old-fashioned values, and an old-fashioned sense of English word meanings, the reports of the Fort Hood massacre were almost as provoking as what happened there.
Let me make that latter point plain. I am saying the words and attitudes conveyed in the reporting of a massacre can be, and in this case are, more consequential than the massacre itself.
Having said that, I must not leave the impression I think little of the loss of a dozen human beings, the perhaps permanent maiming of many more, and all the consequences of this horror in the lives of their families and friends. But we must not shed crocodile tears. My heart goes out to the victims, but from a great distance: I know none of them personally, I know no one who knows them.
This is my first objection to the "funeral of Diana" rhetoric we keep getting today, promptly from all affected politicians, whenever something bad happens and people get killed. The knowledge that their "touching remarks" are drafted by hard-bitten speechwriting staff, skilled in the professional emulation of human feeling, is something the public should bear constantly in mind.
But let us not only blame bureaucrats for the people who commission their work. President Barack Obama's display on Thursday made my point more clearly than it usually can be made, for he turned on a dime. He assumed the "presidential grieving tone" over the Fort Hood massacre, the moment after he'd just done an equally scripted segment of light joking banter for the benefit of the Tribal Nations Conference he was addressing. Millions in the television audience must have watched this incredibly cynical "quick flip." I wonder how many noticed it?
We should not allow ourselves to be moved by the cold hearts of professional tear-jerkers because when we reward that kind of thing we help perpetuate an emotional order that is dangerously false. We should instead be annoyed by attempts to manipulate us.
Falsehood has more consequences than the revelation of personal insincerity. What happened at Fort Hood was no kind of "tragedy." It was a criminal act, of the terrorist sort, performed by a man acting upon known Islamist motives. To present the perpetrator himself as a kind of "victim" -- a man emotionally distressed by his impending assignment to Afghanistan or Iraq -- is to misrepresent the reality.
This man was a professional psychiatrist, assigned to help soldiers cope with traumas. Is this the profile of a man with no control over his own emotions? It appears he had hired a lawyer to get him out of the military before his deployment overseas. Is this consistent with spontaneity?
He reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before opening fire on American soldiers. Would that perhaps offer a little hint of the actual motive? He shot about 40 people, over 10 minutes, with two pistols, neither of them military issue. Might that perhaps suggest premeditation?
There were reports from within the base (Fox News as usual seized on what other networks didn't), that accused Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had not merely been making anti-war remarks about Iraq and Afghanistan, but adding things like, "Muslims should stand up against the aggressor." Do we still have a category for treason? He has been quoted from Internet postings comparing Islamist suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade. Another clue?
This deadly enemy of the West -- the Islamist ideology which holds all Jews, Christians, other non-Muslims, and a considerable number of Muslims, too, to be human filth in need of extermination -- is well infiltrated. Events like that at Fort Hood prove this, and from what I can see, the problem can only grow with the passage of time.
Getting at Islamist cells, to say nothing of lone, self-appointed jihadis within our society, means getting over the false sentimentality that turns a terrorist incident into an "incomprehensible tragedy" when it is not incomprehensible, and not a theatrical event.
It also means ripping through the politically-correct drivel that is put in the way of investigators. They should surely be allowed to assume that every loyal Muslim will be eager to give information to help them identify any potential killers in their midst.
We'd be better off confronting that Islamist enemy, than spraying perfume after each fatal strike.
David Warren. "Fort Hood." Ottawa Citizen (November 7, 2009).
This article reprinted with permission from David Warren.
David Warren, once editor of the Idler Magazine, is widely travelled -- especially in the Middle and Far East. He has been writing for the Ottawa Citizen since 1996. His commentaries on international affairs appear Wednesdays & Saturdays; on Sundays he writes a general essay on the editorial page. Read more from David Warren at David Warren Online.
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