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Nov. 12 2009 - 7:54 am | 29 views | 0 recommendations | 24 comments

Lessons of the Fort Hood massacre: political correctness can be deadly

As more facts begin to unfold in the circumstances surrounding the massacre at Fort Hood, one conclusion seems inescapable: the Army knew, or should have known, it had in Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a ticking time bomb, yet it chose to look the other way. The murderous spree in which Hasan engaged was entirely preventable, but it occurred nonetheless. As is becoming abundantly clear, the incontrovertible facts surrounding the incident indicate conclusively that the mayhem was a direct result of political correctness run amok, the consequences of which, for this case, proved deadly.

The real tragedy of Fort Hood lies in the extraordinary and absurd lengths to which many members of the media and some of the Army’s top brass, in conformity with the dictates of political correctness and its handmaiden “diversity”, went to avoid acknowledging the painfully obvious: this indiscriminate act of mass execution was the first instance of domestic terrorism since 9/11. Many in our government are perfectly willing to overlook the unblemished facts and conclude, after the murder of twelve of its soldiers, that the real tragedy of the incident is what an analysis of mindless adherence to the mushy doctrine of “diversity” might tellingly reveal.

Any expressions of grief over the carnage that might have escaped from the lips of General George Casey, Jr., the Chief of Staff of the Army, were largely overshadowed by his obscene proclamation that the greater danger would be a reexamination of the government’s cherished policy of diversity. When questioned about the Army’s posture of willful ignorance in light of the prior complaints from fellow officers about Hasan’s expressions of Islamic fanaticism, Casey stated that, “This terrible event would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty.” How comforting these words must be to the families of the twelve slain soldiers.

As soon as the news of the carnage unfolded, members of the media were quick to offer numerous theories for Hasan’s motives, all quite speculative and untethered to reality. His premeditated act was a manifestation of Post Traumatic Stress; his deployment to Afghanistan was the trigger that set in motion the murderous spree. The only problem with this explanation was that Hasan had never seen war nor experienced combat.

The derivative theory offered in its place was equally preposterous. We were told that as an Army psychiatrist, his mere exposure to those soldiers who had suffered the unspeakable (unspecified) experiences of combat was sufficient to send him over the edge. But then why, if this were true, did he utter the cry of Allahu Akbar, “God is great”, as he mowed down his fellow soldiers? And why, if this explanation was even remotely credible, have no other practicing psychiatrists, both civilian and military similarly situated, ever been affected in the same way?

We also learned that prior to arriving at Fort Hood, Hasan gave a lecture in front of other doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center during which he exclaimed that, “non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats.” Yet the institutionalized dictates of political correctness demanded silence on the part of those fellow officers who feared disclosing the incident to superiors for fear that it might expose them to charges of practicing discrimination against a protected minority.

Yet the inflammatory and provocative comments of Hasan fell upon deaf ears. Rigid compliance with the “timetables”, “goals” and quotas promulgated by those who worship at the altar of diversity took precedence. As a member of a protected class, Hasan was in a unique position to reap further rewards of a perverse system that in spite of the numerous instances that demonstrated his eminent unsuitability to serve in the military, instead, actually promoted him.

This incident also illustrates much that is wrong with the preachings of contemporary liberalism: if the facts don’t fit, or might assail the enshrined theory, then the facts must be ignored. But nothing is gained by a confusion of terms. Actual acts of discrimination are not the same as the exercise of diligence and/or vigilance, yet political correctness often conflates the two.

The silver lining in this tragic cloud? Those who are not so enamored of diversity that they are blinded by the unvarnished facts of this case are clamoring for hearings to find out how the gross negligence of the Army led to this catastrophe.


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  1. collapse expand

    Guns don’t kill people, people kill people; diversity doesn’t kill people, people kill people. Sgt. John Robbins went on another fratricidal rampage, should we eliminate all Texans? The fault here isn’t PC, the fault is our failure to adequately care for our service people; a cost of war we ignore. Our soldiers deserve better than we give them, and battles between PC and islamaphobic rhetoric (yours as well as people like David Brooks) muddies the waters and makes future tragedies more likely.

  2. collapse expand

    Agreed. It was inconvenient for me, as a white man, when the media and the government started cracking down on white men in the wake of Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing. But I took it, because that was the price of freedom!

    …Oh, wait, that didn’t happen. So I guess you’re wrong. That said, in both cases, decent psychological care might have gone a long way toward avoiding violence, but I guess you would see that as socialism or something, so stick with the racial thing – it’s a winner. Certainly much easier than thinking.

  3. collapse expand

    It’s clear that major mistakes were made in not catching Major Hasan’s erratic behaviors. But I think it’s singularly unfair to blame it on ‘liberalism,’ ‘diversity,’ or ‘political correctness.’

    I think the real problem is how often the military tries to deal with disciplinary and criminal issues in overly cumbersome ways. You reach a point where a person is acting out and they clearly require more than taps on the wrist, and that’s all Major Hasan got. Recent history is replete with instances in which the military failed to deal with a problem adequately because the same accountability mechanisms that prevail in the outside world don’t exist inside the services, from Abu Ghraib to Tailhook to all manner of lesser known problems.

    Now clearly, the desire to create an institutional framework that’s inclusive of Arabs and Muslims in our military may have been a contributing factor to why some people didn’t respond more strongly to Major Hasan’s pre-Fort Hood provocations. But unless you’re saying that Arabs and Muslims don’t belong in our military like all other members of our society do as good-standing citizens, you can’t blame ‘the altar of diversity.’

    • collapse expand

      Why is it unfair to blame what occurred on political correctness? News reports have confirmed that many of those who observed his errant and inflammatory behavior were reluctant to speak out for fear of being accused of discrimination against a protected minority, in this case a Muslim in the US military. This is PC writ large…

      It does not necessarily follow from stating the obvious, namely, that PC played an integral role in this catastrophe, that all Muslims serving in the military are Islamic fanatics.

      I think you are missing the forest from the trees: why do you think Hasan only received slaps on the wrist even after he made it clear with his provocative statements about pouring burning oil down the throats of infidels? Because of a lack of accountability issues similar to Tailhook? The evidence doesn’t seem to support such a conjecture.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Pointing back to the NPR article you linked, it refers to a series of failures that contributed to Hasan being where he was. The first it lists is cumbersome disciplinary bureaucracy in Army medical facilities.

        And I don’t disagree with you that some people probably did not speak out as vigorously as they might have out of fears of creating a hostile work environment for Muslims in the US Army. But that’s not ‘liberalism,’ it’s collateral damage from a long-standing, good military policy reaching back to Truman and Eisenhower to create an institutional environment that’s accepting of America’s minorities. Our Armed Forces don’t do political correctness, which is why, for instance, they’ve been so resistant to applying any civilian laws on employment discrimination to the military code. But they also have accountability problems, and I’m afraid Fort Hood’s 13 were the victims of that, too.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    I would second Michael’s comment. I have to say, however, that it feels like you are participating in a bit of political correctness yourself by carefully avoiding offering a solution. I suspect that just about everyone would agree that this man should have been pulled out years ago based on what we know. From the evidence we are getting, he had some pretty severe emotional issues before he turned to expressing them as he did. So, yeah, whether this guys motives, religion, etc., he had no business being there.
    But, what are you suggesting? You have a problem with the Army’s diversity position. What would you replace it with. IF you want all Muslims drummed out of the service, then you need to stand up and say so – otherwise you are completely engaged in your own political correctness. Of course, when you do so, there will be many of us waiting to pounce on you for your stance, but at least you will be telling us what you believe and want rather than stopping short.

  5. collapse expand

    The issue of political correctness in the U.S. military has been around for years, namely in allegations that the military has put women into positions that they are physically unqualified for (the same would have applied in the 1970s to promoting minorities). Whether those allegations are true or not, it is undeniable that the military is sensitive to charges of discrimination. No one wants that kind of black mark on their record.

  6. collapse expand

    Actually, it seems to me that the Ft. Hood incident stands as an argument/illustration for NOT having gun control on a military base. If virtually everyone at that RPLDPL or whatever they call ‘me now had been carrying a sidearm, as we did in Vietnam (even EMs in our ordnance unit “carried”), this aberrant American would have been taken down much more quickly.

    And on a military base, among those IN the service–not just casual visitors–pretty much have the same mission, have been trained to use weapons, etc.

    One might want to change some of the rules around the beer tents or the ossifers’ clubs where booze is belted back, but who more qualified to be armed on a military installation that members of the military? I mean, it was a Blackwater (now Xe or some-such camouflaging name) employee who was taking Christmas target practice on personnel in the Green Zone, Iraq, not a member of the echt military.

    As they’ve discovered in Britain (where they apparently have banned all privately-owned handguns), now it’s only the criminals who are armed–and the crime rate has escalated, ever since the handguns were confiscated & melted down. (Hmm–I wonder if some of that steel was used in the bow of the USS New York, or was it just the WTC #7, #2 & #1 crime-scene evidence that was melted down for the bow? I passed by the “commissioning” ceremony of that ship last week, listened in on some of the palaver & propaganda. Struck me as “flipping the bird,” permanently, at the denizens of NYC who were wiped out on 9/11/2001. With an attendant school-yard jeer, Nya, nya, na nya, nyahh, we got awaaaay with murrrrrder.

    But maybe that’s just me.

  7. collapse expand

    What the hell is a “protected minority”? You give yourself away there John, are you one of the unprotected majority, do you feel slighted?

    First of all a new story is often marred by varying and conflicting facts. Secondly this is the first time in my memory that the military has been tagged as liberal or politically correct. Have you ever heard the lyrics to marine cadence songs? Third, no one should be surprised that the military may spin the story…remember Tilman? It is their first reaction to protect their turf.
    If this is terrorism we will find out soon enough but what is worrying is that it seems that our anti-terrorist protectors are once again not speaking to one another, not connecting dots and that Homeland Security and wiretaps have failed.

  8. collapse expand

    Actually, Rick, I like it when a blogger or columnist provokes me to think by asking interesting questions nobody else has thought of, rather than just giving me his opinion. Both approaches are worthy, but one or the other exclusively is quite boring.

    To respond to your point: Michael nowhere even intimated that he thinks a solution would be to ban Muslims from the military. Is that really the only solution you can come up with to the question he implicitly posed? How about asking those who volunteer for military service if they would find it difficult or impossible to go to war with another country based on their religious beliefs or ethnic identification? This is a neutral question that does not discriminate and should give offense to no one. True, the questioner would have to rely on my honesty, but so does the Red Cross when they ask if I’ve ever injected drugs or slept with a gay man.

  9. collapse expand

    We also learned that prior to arriving at Fort “Hood, Hasan gave a lecture in front of other doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center during which he exclaimed that, “non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats.” Yet the institutionalized dictates of political correctness demanded silence on the part of those fellow officers who feared disclosing the incident to superiors for fear that it might expose them to charges of practicing discrimination against a protected minority”

    That’s a lame duck excuse, at best. Since when does a room full of adults (assuming) NOT report such inflammatory comments for fear of discrimination?

    If I’m in a room with 20 other people, and one person says something along these lines, I have 18 other witnesses who heard the remarks. How could I NOT report what is said, in good conscience?

    Those same doctors are now hiding behind the veil of “PC” when they should be apologizing up and down for gross negligence on their part. You can’t just give them a pass on this. They have a responsibility, as people.

    Forgive me, but the idea that you “might” get in trouble doesn’t absolve you from the responsibility of reporting something. And if this what the Army has been preaching to young, impressionable adults over the years, then I feel sorry for them and hope that at some point, they realize what their true responsibility is in a situation like that.

    But whatever, blame whomever you want to blame, or whatever ideology you want to blame. In the end, we’re not going to find out much else since the Army loves to compartmentalize these types of things, so as to not tarnish their “stellar” reputation.

  10. collapse expand

    As a side note. My comments above probably read a little more harsh than they are intended.

    I’m not slamming the OP, or any of the responses, I’m just kind of, talking out loud about responsibility and accountability.

  11. collapse expand

    It seems to me to blame not catching Dr. Hasan prior to his murderous behavior on PC or adhering to some standard of diversity is the ultimate double bind in that nothing is accomplished in understanding why anyone would choose such behavior in the first place. Like it or not, we are a nation of litigators and as a lawyer John, I’m sure you are more aware of this than the average citizen. The fact is most of us are afraid to speak out in any variety of situations for fear of being sued. Following your logic, it would be safe to say people don’t speak out because of lawyers who go to court to argue for the plaintiff who has been discriminated because of their religion. If there is any issue that stands in front of our love of PC or adherence to diversity it’s the love of litigation at the slightest slight that has overtaken legitimate grievance. Your argument that people did nothing to notify authorities that might have prevented this slaughter because they were adhering to some vague idea such as PC or diversity skews the entire episode and makes the explanation simplistic and far too easy, preventing anyone from actually developing a deeper understanding of human behavior. I think what we call PC or diversity is actually a description of a broad change in our culture that is moving away from simplistic descriptions of people based on race or religion or gender, and as in any broad shift in culture there is awkwardness and confusion as we change. To blame murder for our effort to change and become more open and accepting of others who might be different than the mostly white straight christian guys who’ve run things for so long is in the end really stupid and does nothing to help us understand how a person who chooses mass murder could have made such a decision in the first place.

  12. collapse expand

    So let’s be clear. The consensus is that “this was an act of terrorism.” So Al Qaeda has imbedded U.S. born mental health professional sleeper agents on Mil bases and the paid informants we’re using get us the Ft. Dix six and those retarded gentlemen from New York City? (the career-crack-heads, not the Denver guy.
    Is it bad to suggest that we’ve lost the upper-hand in terms of infiltration?

    But I’m with ya John- America for the Americans!
    Now who are they exactly?

  13. collapse expand

    Is obvious that Hasan should been flagged and booted from the military long ago. Yet placing the blame on liberal political correctness is I think incorrect. Part of the blame could fall on this yet the majority of the blame should be placed on the bureaucracy of the military coupled with poor management. It should be noted that political correctness and diversity are not the same thing. We absolutely need diversity in the military because it reflects who we are as Americans. We are not a white nation.
    I see you have made no suggestions as to how to correct what you see as a problem. Not to put words in your mouth but I gather you have problems with muslims in general. Maybe others have problems with latinos or gays or women. Should we exclude one or all of these groups from our military? From our lives? What are you suggesting we do?
    To shift the debate a bit. Imagine that you must be a white christian to join the US military. What would our military look like? I’ll tell you what it will look like. Undermanned. If that were the case we could easily see an immediate need to reinstate the draft. You would be fine with seeing your children shipped off to Iraq right?

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    About Me

    I have primarily been practicing law in one capacity or another for the past twenty years. I have been blogging at beaconstreetjournal.com since 2006.

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