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?