My friend and former colleague Joe Klein has had some strong things to say about the Ft. Hood massacre -- and about people who argue that this is a clear-cut case of, in Daniel Pipes' words, "sudden jihad syndrome." I asked Joe a question about his views, and we had the following e-mail conversation:
Jeffrey Goldberg: You wrote last week, "There are today several odious attempts by Jewish extremists.... to argue that the massacre perpetrated by Nidal Hasan was somehow a direct consequence of his Islamic beliefs as opposed to a direct consequence of his insanity." Do you still believe that this case is primarily about mental illness, or have you seen anything to suggest that Nidal Hasan did what he did mainly because he is a self-radicalized jihadist?
Joe Klein: Jeff--I think my initial reaction last week, in part, was a knee-jerk response to the "they're all terrorists" line about Muslims I hear so often from everyone ranging from neoconservatives to close friends and family members. But my bottom line remains the same. Clearly, Hasan was attracted to Islamic radicalism and that has to be considered part of the calculus of motivations for his act. But, the primary motivating force? I doubt it. There are three other factors that I think are more important: