Everyone is pontificating on Thursday's horrific shooting at Fort Hood by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old military psychiatrist who was facing his deployment to Afghanistan. Much discussion focuses on the troubles of the military. But what do present and former members of the military think about the shooting? The Wire surveys a sampling of military bloggers--some writing on official military sites, some at personal blogs--and their coverage of the shooting.
The discussion is unabashedly frank. Many bloggers vehemently reject media speculation that post-traumatic stress may have played a role. Hasan's religion and race are by far the most-discussed topic. A Muslim of Palestinian heritage and American nationality, Hasan's identity--and any role it might have played in yesterday's events--is of great interest and controversy.
- Don't Tell Us It Was PTSD VetVoice's Richard Allen Smith is among the many to decry continued media chatter that Hasan, who never served in combat, may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. "A day after we learned that Major Hasan has never deployed, cable news still pushing PTSD angle. Idiots. Some also arguing that treating PTSD patients may have disturbed him (PRE Traumatic Stress?). Ridiculous."
- Hasan Was Just a 'Pussy' Jonn Lilyea blasts those forcing a broader narrative onto Hasan. Lilyea writes at privately-run military affairs blog This Ain't Hell.
Here's a theory I have, that won’t be very popular; Hasan was/is a cheesy pogue pussy. He liked the amenities of being stationed near his home and living in the big city with a Major’s salary and suddenly he found himself at nasty-ass Fort Hood (I spent two years there and every minute trying to leave) looking at a deployment to a nastier place.
I don’t think he did it because of his faith (but he’ll use it as an excuse), or because of PTSD (ditto). The Army doesn’t train their psychiatrists to shoot rooms full of people, so it’s not the Army’s fault. It’s this spoiled little rich kid (by the way, he ignored his father’s advice when he joined the Army - listen to your father), who couldn’t stand the thought of being uncomfortable.
What? Too simple? No room for anyone to use him as their poster boy? Exactly.
- Being Muslim in the Military On his blog Blackfive, Matthew Burden evaluates what Hasan would face as a Muslim in the service. "Apparently, reports are that he was harassed for being Muslim," Burden writes of Hasan. "I have sources that have stated that the Army investigated Hasan's claims that he was being targeted for his religion and found that either his reports were inaccurate or that he was faking the harassment. I have seen soldiers harass muslims (one of the best NCOs I had as a young cav scout platoon leader was Sergeant Hassan). I have also seen soldiers harass each other for being Italian and Irish and Jewish, etc. (as a soldier, I also put a stop to that nonsense) The point of that is that it is not an excuse for murder. More will be revealed."
- Religiously Motivated? Probably TSO of privately-run military blog This Ain't Hell defends his focus on Hasan's religion. "It was perhaps wrong to note this guys religious background so early, yea though the evidence is still bolstering that as the likely motive," he writes. "For the record, there was a lot of info out there to justify the 'lone jihadi' theory, I just didn’t put any of it in here. For one reason, we seemed to be getting WAY off track with some veering into racial areas. I am ridiculously uncomfortable with such talk. For me it wasn’t race, it was religious ideology. For the same reason that discussing the perfidy of John Walker Lindh wasn’t racial, it was religious." But he concedes," It seems that both sides (myself included) are doing the same thing here in leaping to conclusions."
- We Know Why He Did It Military blogger John is incredulous that Major Hasan's reason isn't clear. "Yeah, they need to keep him under guard. So, he was pissed about what-- British treatment of Catholics in Ulster? No, can't be that. Wait-- he's gotta be a Basque separatist. Nope, not that either. Wait, wait, I got it-- TIBET. He's protesting Chinese repression in Tibet. No?? What then? DO TELL, MAJOR."
- Won't Help Islam's Public Image Military.com blogger Jamie McIntyre wonders what this will mean for American Muslims. "So Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan is a 'devout' Muslim, we are told, who prayed several days a week at a Mosque in Silver Spring, Maryland. He’s also a native born American of Palestinian parents. My Muslim friends tell me Islam is a peaceful religion, with dozens of references in the Koran rejecting violence. We don’t know if his religious beliefs played any part in his alleged murderous rampage, but the case of Maj. Hasan, who technically at this stage is only a 'suspect,' is not helping the image of peaceful Islam. While we withhold judgment awaiting more facts, it’s safe to say this terrorist act will only deepen the mistrust many Americans have for those who follow the Islamic faith. And that is a sad truth."