The Evil That Men Do

By Megan McArdle

Kevin Drum has a powerful letter from someone who witnessed the carnage at Fort Hood:

This was premeditated.  This wasn't VBC again.  That guy snapped, not this one.  He was so damn calm when he was shooting.  Methodical.  And he was moving tactically.  The Army really is diverse and we really do love all our own.  We signed up to be shot at but not at home.  Not unarmed.  No one should ever see what the inside of that medical SRP building looked like.  I suppose that's what VA Tech looked like.  Except they didn't have soldiers coming from everywhere to tourniquet and compress and talk to the wounded while rounds are still coming out.

No one touched him...the shooter that is...other than to treat him.  Though I told the medic (and I'm not proud of this) that was giving him plasma that there better not be anyone else who needed it because he should be the last one to be treated.  But I had just finished holding a soldier who was critical (I counted three entry wounds) and talking to him about his children....  If the shooter had a grievance he should have taken it out on those responsible; he wasn't shooting people he knew (media reports to the contrary).  He was just shooting anybody who happened to be present for SRP medical processing, mainly lower enlisted.

But please, no one use this politically!   The Army is not "broken", PTSD doesn't turn people into killers, most Muslims aren't evil, and whether we should stay or go in Afghanistan has nothing to do with this.  I'm babbling...sorry.

This guy was some form of lunatic or psychopath, and it seems pretty clear to me at this point that he was inspired by terrorists.  But there's no evidence that he was a terrorist--that is, that he was hooked into some organized network.  Lots of people do terrible things in the name of their religion--just ask George Tiller.  Their acts are, as the Catholic Church says, "sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance".  But they are no more indictments of a community than the acts of that Korean kid who went crazy at Virginia Tech.

There is absolutely no political lesson to be learned from this.  Gun control would not have stopped a commissioned officer from obtaining guns.  Barack Obama had no power to stop this.   Infectious PTSD is a lousy theory.  And nations certainly do not--and should not--shape their foreign policy around the possibility that a random psychopath will start shooting up a crowd.  Evil people do evil things.  That's all.

Update  whatever else you think of them, CAIR has issued an admirably forthright condemnation:

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/5/09) - A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy group tonight condemned an attack on Fort Hood military base in Texas that left at least 12 people dead.

In a statement, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:

"We condemn this cowardly attack in the strongest terms possible and ask that the perpetrators be punished to the full extent of the law. No religious or political ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted the all-volunteer army that protects our nation. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured."

Along with innumerable condemnations of terror, CAIR has in the past launched an online anti-terror petition drive called "Not in the Name of Islam," initiated a television public service announcement (PSA) campaign against religious extremism and coordinated a "fatwa," or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism and extremism.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/11/the-evil-that-men-do/29760/