Fortunately, the solution isn't that complicated. All of us— military, press, and public alike — can start by acknowledging that, overheated conservative rantings notwithstanding, Hasan was a rare exception, not proof of some bogus, intellectually untenable rule. We should also acknowledge that, given the religious overtones of America's greatest current foreign-policy challenges, some Muslim members of the armed forces will naturally face existential challenges that their fellow soldiers don't.
Once that's done, the rest follows naturally. Clearly, the solution for the military isn't to crack down, McCarthy-style, on Muslim soldiers who've done nothing wrong, but to work to curtail any festering religious tensions in the wake of Hasan's spree — by keeping exceedingly close tabs on Islam-bashing, say, or providing speedy access to support for any Muslim soldier who decides he or she needs it. (To its credit, the military seems inclined to take precisely this tack: during a Monday-afternoon press conference, Lieutenant General Robert Cone, the Fort Hood commander, lavished praise on the base's more than 100 Muslim soldiers, and promised they'd be given "every consideration" in the wake of the killings.) At the same time, any red flags raised by a Muslim soldier's personal religious inclinations need to be taken seriously, no matter how awkward that may be. (On Tuesday, NPR reported that Hasan was retained despite his strange behavior at Walter Reed, at least partly because jettisoning a Muslim doctor would have looked bad.)
The rest of us, in turn, can do our part by rejecting the crude Islam-equals-murder calculus that made the rounds this week — which only increases the likelihood of the grim reality it purports to warn against.
To read the "Don't Quote Me" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/dontquoteme. Adam Reilly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
: Media -- Dont Quote Me
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