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On Veteran's Day, a quandry


Major Nidal Malik Hasan USA (AP)

We may never know what triggered Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s rampage at the sprawling Fort Hood military complex in Killen, Texas, that killed 13 and wounded 29.  Experts will probe every aspect of the man’s life to understand the motivation that would cause an educated officer, doctor, and psychiatrist to join the company of lesser men in an act of indiscriminate brutality.

Did his impending deployment to the Middle East prompt Maj. Hasan to experience a degree of cognitive dissonance which he could not reconcile?.  This raises a question for a nation in the second decade of an endless overseas adventure against a driven, illusive enemy.  Should Muslim members of the armed forces be asked to go in harm’s way against others of their own religion?

Most would probably respond “Yes” - it comes with the job.  On the surface, that simple answer should be the end of it.  But is it?  Or does it further demonstrate our lack of understanding of the powerful grip of Islam and potentially jeopardize our service men and women?

Throughout our history, segments of our population have initially been excluded from military service, and later distinguished themselves in defense of the nation.  Newly freed slaves fought valiantly for the Union during the Civil War.  Seventy five years later, black airmen of the 332d Fighter Group helped crush the Luftwaffe.  Japanese-American soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team (the“Purple Heart Battalion”) unmasked our war time internment policy with their sterling performance on European battlefields.  Ironically, an all-Nisei unit, the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, liberated 3,000 prisoners at Kaufering IV Hurlach, a subordinate slave labor camp of Dachau.

America’s fear and uncertainty has historically focused on ethnic and cultural differences.  The nation has never faced a situation where religion is the principal divider.  Those doing business in the Middle East understand that Islam transcends family and geopolitical division and is the dominant force in the lives of 23% of the world’s population.  Is it reasonable and prudent to expect Islam’s obedient believers to fight on behalf of a nation defined not by what it is, but rather by what it is not? Is it useful public policy to test the loyalty of Muslims in America by putting them in a position of having to make that choice?

What do you think?

Comments

  • Michael Furukawa 4 years ago

    I believe you also must include the Japanse Americans in the MIS, who fought in the Pacific as translators in the field. But to your question of "the quandry" I have two examples of their choice that come from the 442nd and one from the MIS. Senator Inouye said that his father told him before he left, "This country has been good to us ... Live if you can, die if you must, but do not bring shame to the family." From the MIS, a documentary on PBS showcased them and when a MIS translator was interrogating a Japanese POW, he was asked "Why are you fighting against your people?" The MIS answered, "If I fight for my people, I dishonor my country. If I fight for my country, I dishonor my people." The POW replied, "I am very sorry." Sometimes tough choices must be made, but at least for these men "duty, honor, country" came first over ethnicity or religion. Perhaps we do not understand Islam enough but shouldn't all make their choice freely?

  • Michael Furukawa 4 years ago

    I believe you also must include the Japanse Americans in the MIS, who fought in the Pacific as translators in the field. But to your question of "the quandry" I have two examples of their choice that come from the 442nd and one from the MIS. Senator Inouye said that his father told him before he left, "This country has been good to us ... Live if you can, die if you must, but do not bring shame to the family." From the MIS, a documentary on PBS showcased them and when a MIS translator was interrogating a Japanese POW, he was asked "Why are you fighting against your people?" The MIS answered, "If I fight for my people, I dishonor my country. If I fight for my country, I dishonor my people." The POW replied, "I am very sorry." Sometimes tough choices must be made, but at least for these men "duty, honor, country" came first over ethnicity or religion. Perhaps we do not understand Islam enough but shouldn't all make their choice freely?

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