Randy's Corner Deli Library

12 November 2009

Death At Fort Hood - The Coming Storm for Muslims in America

I am heartbroken at the loss of life at Fort Hood, Texas. I kind of always suspected that psychiatrists, listening to their patients' tales of pain, rage, anger and hurt couldn't help themselves and become just as pained, angry and hurt as their patients. Professional objectivity is obviously measured in very subjective ways. Until some kind of break. As a lawyer, believe me, it is a difficult proposition not to put myself- my self - two words - into all that I do for a client whose rights I am being paid to protect or assert. But this is exactly why people hire me - because I care, and it shows in what I do.

But psychiatry is a different animal. I have never been on the other end of a therapy session - except when I find myself the defacto therapist myself -- part of, I suppose, my job at times, but to state the obvious: everyone has their breaking point, especially when we attempt to comprehend the endless possibilities that lie within each of our minds, even violent ones.

But what could be the causes behind a rampage like that which took place at Ft. Hood? That will be for a battalion of psychiatrists, behavioralists, lawyers and clerics to determine as Major Hasan proceeds through the military justice system. For anyone to speculate that it was one cause or another is to simplify the man to a caricature, which I assure you is impossible if we are to attempt to treat Major Hasan fairly and do justice to ourselves in judging what he did and why.

I cannot help but think that as more news comes out about Major Hasan's affiliation with jihadi imams around the world we will start to see a backlash against fundamentalist Islam here in this country such as has not been seen since FDR signed the executive order to round up all persons of Japanese descent on the West Coast as an alleged matter of national security after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. And that, frankly, as a Jew, scares me, but at the same time makes me question a system of belief - jihad, dhimmitude, the worst that Sharia has to offer - can possibly be so attractive -- perversely so -- to a smart, educated man like Major Hasan who is as American as me, with a story not unlike any one of us whose descendants did not arrive in this country on the Mayflower.

When can we honestly point to certain things and say to the world in all honesty that a certain set of beliefs is anathema to Western civilized society? I am no expert on Sharia law. But I can understand how, when the world seems stacked against you, it's exactly as then-candidate Obama said -- people reach for the perceived solidity and morality of their religion - "the clingers" -- and it happens in every religion, regardless. There are those of us (and I speak obviously from a Jewish perspective) whose lives can spiral so out of control, those of us whose desperation cannot be slaked by anything other than a closed fist around whatever belief system one happens to guide oneself by. And in the case of Major Hasan, obviously a rational human being, something in him made the notion of killing his fellow soldiers in the name of Allah a burning desire within him which directly resulted in the horror at Ft. Hood.

One has to think about this: if Major Hasan's name was Washington or Cohen, would the country be so concerned with the killer's religious beliefs? No. The world's experience with terror has been almost exclusively with those whose views and reading of the Koran are literal and therefore dangerous. The same was true with the killer of Yitzhak Rabin and other Jewish terrorists. So it is that as a country, we are at a crossroads: in my view, there will be a deserved backlash against those individuals who have such fundamentalist and literalist views of the Koran that it will spread to the entirety of the Koran itself and all of its adherents, whether they are fundamentalist jihadis or not. And that is sad, because, again, to state the obvious, not all Muslims are terrorists.

But if a system of belief can create generations of people who want to die for Allah, what does that say about that system of belief? For me, as for Judaism in general, the first tenet is to live. God wants us all to live and be happy and, to borrow that oft-quoted phrase of Rodney King's after the LA riots, to just get along. Any system of belief that contributes to those things is worthy of anyone's attention, attention in a positive way.

But suffice it to say that all fundamentalist positions on all religions can only lead to badness when they are attempted to be imposed on others without their consent. And therein lies the heart of the matter: I know enough about Islam to say this: that the Koran and actions based on it which could in any way contribute to what Major Hasan did must be brought into question as a valid belief structure. Any religion that empowers people to die or gives them reasons to die and not live is contrary to the very fundamental basis of all life on earth, at least to my way of thinking.

I do not buy into the notion that Islam is all wrong. There is much beauty and are many decent life lessons there, I am sure. No religion has it all right; there is plenty in my bible that I find utterly abhorrent. But there are those ultra-Orthodox fundamentalists who would and do disagree with me. That's fine, as long as there is respect going both ways, and it is this lack of respect for divergent viewpoints in the fundamentalist weltanschauung that to me makes for most of the problems we humans on earth face. Fundamentalists think they have it all right, as if it were up to them to decide. Fealty to one point of view without consideration of others' is just another way of attempting to intellectually and religiously (and in some cases physically) dominate another people or person. It is intolerable. And if there's one thing that I don't tolerate, it's intolerance.

And so it is that I am afraid for American Muslims who will, I think, face the wrath of those that think all Muslims are killers or terrorists or that somehow Muslims have to be controlled in the way that American Japanese were. What amounted to a suicide attack at Ft. Hood does not bode well for millions of Muslims who would have nothing to do with what Major Hasan did. Who left the Middle East long ago or even recently because of the incessant fighting and intransigence.

That backlash, I fear, is coming, though, much to my dismay and angst. Let cool heads prevail, but in the meantime, the first duty is to preserve the nation, and if there is a fifth column (and there is -- did you see the FBI attacks on Jihadi Muslims in Detroit a couple of weeks ago?) of jihadi Muslims being home-grown as they are in the United Kingdom, we would do well to act with a great deal of caution but just as much resolve, and this will take the active participation of moderate, real Muslims who do not subscribe to the fundamentalist viewpoints espoused on a daily basis in too many mosques in this country. It is time for those people to stand up against fundamentalist teachings and be heard. I stand with them. But I fear the coming storm.

Randy Shiner


From Email said...

1. Dude, change the design of this page and the font. Just look at another blog and get something more readable together.


3. Almost no other country wants to be like us. Curiously, they want to be like they are and want us to be like them.

4. Islam is not the problem or the answer. It's fundamentalism. The most destructive power ever unleashed on Earth.

Randy Shiner said...

Yes, and that was the point. Fundamentalism in all its forms is the problem. The problem for Muslims is that their brand of fundamentalism is killing people. Others, not so much, ergo the problem with fundamentalist Islam in particular.