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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The ghouls invade Ft. Hood

The killing of 13 people and the wounding of 29 at Ft. Hood is an occasion for respectful honor and somber reflection about those killed and harmed. But not for some who turn it into a frenzy of manic bureaucratic blame-placing and a harvest festival of wingnut malevolence.

The press in its eagerness to get scoops bears responsibility for a large part of the bureaucratic brouhaha.  One can only wax nostalgic over the days when the press was eager to report the facts, not the pissing duels.

The press is reporting that the FBI and the Department of Defense are embroiled in mud wrestling, which is brought about by the question of whether the government missed warning signs about Major Nidal Malik Hasan.  There are many instances being raised about incidents that may be regarded as foreshadowings of what Hasan allegedly did.  The FBI electronic surveillance network monitored correspondence Maj. Hasan had with an American-born imam in Yemen who advocates a jihad against Americans.  A Department of Defense investigator says there was nothing in the correspondence that did not deal with legitimate questions that Hasan was pursuing.  And so, the blame-placing frenzy begins.

But the press plays a major role.  In both sides of the issue, the press cites statements from people whose names and identities are withheld "because they are not authorized to talk about the matter."  The obvious question:  if they are not authorized to talk about it, why the hell are they talking about it?    And just what gives anything they say any credibility?  Was a time when establishing the credentials of someone being quoted was the first priority in journalistic practice.  But that gets in the way of feeding the appetites of the mean and petty whose sole motive in life is to find condemnations of other people.

For the press to retreat into an anonymous citation because the person "was not authorized to speak" is like those commenters on blogs who post anonymously.  One learns quickly that their facts are seldom accurate and their thinking processes, if they exist at all, are impaired.  Mostly, one learns that they are only interested in venting malice,  and their motive is to poison any discussion that is taking place.

That brings up comments by some bloggers, who are not necessarily anonymous, but whose thoughts and expressions fulfill the requirements of ignorance, falsity, and malice that appears to be the qualifying criteria for posting anonymous comments.  The question has been raised if political correctness caused officials not to investigate Hasan's statements and behavior and to take preventive measures.  In this case political correctness would be to be oversensitive to Hasan's Muslim religion and give him special leniency.  The bloggers ignore the rules of evidence and due process and insist that Hasan should have been subjected to some kind of discipline and punishment.  The one real indication that he had violent intentions was in purchasing the high powered handgun he used in the murders of 13 people.  Of course, requiring information of his gun purchase and pursuing it as an indication of his intentions would be a violation of the Second Amendment.

The wingnut bloggers have taken after Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey for his warning about jumping to conclusions about the Ft. Hood massacre: “I'm concerned this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers, and I've asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that,” he said.  The charge by the bloggers is that Gen. Casey is being politically correct and is woefully misguided.

Of course, Gen. Casey is following the rudiments of competence.  As a commander, he knows the history of the Army and that this is not the first time that racial, religious, or sexual persecution has endangered the function of the military.  The military took the lead in desegregation.  It did so because it became apparent that internal ethnic conflicts render the military dysfunctional.  It was a problem during World War II, but in the Korean War it cost the U.S. some victories and many lives.  Units of black soldiers were accused of being bad soldiers.  When the command investigated their performance, it found that the black units were staffed with white officers who were not considered competent enough to be assigned to other units.  And it found that the discrimination against blacks was so intense that black soldiers resented deeply having to fight for  freedom, equality, and justice that they were systematically denied. 

President Truman signed the order to desegregate the military in 1948, but little was accomplished.   In 1951, when Gen. Ridgway was put in command of the troops in Korea and charged with reversing the terrible defeat American forces were experiencing, he asked that he be allowed to immediately desegregate the units under his command, and he took immediate action to do so.  He changed the course of the war. And of racial history,

But the effects of segregation lingered on after a truce was agreed to and prisoners of war were exchanged.  Some black U.S. troops chose not to be repatriated.  They were called "turn coats."  They stayed in North Korea, but not for long when they discovered that the treatment by the North Koreans was no better than the segregated society they would return to in the U.S.  However, these men troubled President Eisenhower, who understood well the dangers of having troops who had reason to distrust and fight each other rather than the enemy.  An exhaustive study was ordered, desegregation in the military was expedited, and the lessons learned played a strong role in the decisions to desegregate civilian society and in the actions taken to enforce it. 

The problems caused by racial discrimination did not end with military desegregation.  I experienced those problems during my time in the Army and  saw the need to transfer some racially motivated soldiers to jobs and places where they could not interfere with and obstruct the mission we were given to perform.  There were instances of violence against blacks and Latinos, and retaliations for those acts of violence, and the participants had to be removed to allow the units to function and perform their duties.

There were flare-ups in Viet Nam with fraggings that had racial motivations.  There were problems when women were permitted to assume the same roles as men in the military.  To win military victories requires first that the demons in human nature be defeated.

Gen. Casey's warning about retaliation against Muslim soldiers is grounded in actual history and in his realization that such retaliations would play into the hands of Al Qaeda and other Islamic radicals by proving their contention that the U.S is not conducting a war on terror but a war on Muslim. 

There are those who want to see a general attack on the 3,000 Muslim soldiers in the military, because they are Muslim.  There are those who want an attack on the blacks because they are black.  The election of a black president has aggravated the racial animosities and has brought us to another confrontation with prejudice.  It is one of the battles that Gen. Casey and his command have to confront in addition to those with enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 Islamic radicalism has to be investigated for any role it might have in actions taken by Nidal Malik Hasan.  Whether it conspired with him or inspired him must be assessed.  But we have loud and persistent "Christian" voices  that dwell on the same notions of persecution and vengeance, and they seem to want a revival of the Crusades.   We have those who presume to speak for Christianity who seem unaware that there is a New Testament.

 Thank God, Gen. Casey is in charge of how to handle what happened at Ft. Hood. 

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States