As we reflect on the Fort Hood shootings, I hope we remember that a person's religion has nothing to do with his or her acts of violence. Did Christians apologize for Steven Dale Green or Charles Graner? Of course not.
A solider necessarily places himself or herself in violent situations. Sometimes, soldiers snap (for example, Steven Dale Green), and the consequences are tragic. Numerous Muslim groups have already condemned the Fort Hood shootings. My thoughts and prayers are with the soldiers and their families.
Here is James Fallow's take on the situation.
Forty years later, what did the Charles Whitman massacre "mean"? A decade later, do we "know" anything about Columbine? There is chaos and evil in life. Some people go crazy. In America, they do so with guns; in many countries, with knives; in Japan, sometimes poison.
Something is terribly wrong when people shoot strangers or acquaintances. We need to find ways to prevent similar incidents. The NRA's solution--giving everyone a gun--is not the best answer. This shooting shows that even when nearby people are armed, a lone gunman can cause numerous deaths. How can we prevent these types of incidents from happening again?
Bonus: from The Atlantic's website:
Michael Moore: "After a shooting like this it's very important that no one jump to conclusions and take out any revenge against doctors or psychiatrists."
Matthew Yglesias: "Lucky for us Christians never shoot anyone. Otherwise America might have the developed world's highest murder rate."
Update: I am having a back-and-forth facebook discussion on The Atlantic's wall with Kim P. See below.
Me: Violence is not a religious issue--it's an issue of unstable people attaching themselves to a particular ideology. Remember what Charles Graner said: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself." (That quote still makes me shudder, because it's so wrong on so many levels.) No sane person would say that Graner's Christianity had anything to do with him torturing detainees. If you agree that Graner's religion had nothing to do with violent behavior, then you must also agree that Nidal Hasan's religion had nothing to do with his violent behavior.
Her: What reality are you living in?? Didn't he shout "Allahu [sic] Akbar!" as he opened fire???
Me: to be consistent, you must agree that Christianity influenced Charles Graner when he tortured Abu Ghraib detainees. After all, Graner did mention Christianity, and he is a Christian, correct? So *obviously* Christianity had something to do with Graner's actions, right? (I hope you see the sarcasm and problem with your "logic.")
To support a link between Islam and the shootings, you mentioned a rumor that the shooter yelled, "God is great." If that's the case, then you must believe "God" had something to do with the killings. If a white Christian American shot somebody and yelled "God is great," would you link Christianity with the shootings? Of course not. You'd be crazy to do such a thing. Yet, you have no problem making the same crazy link when the shooter happens to be from a different religious background. If that's not Islamaphobia, I don't know what is.
Her: Remember 9/11??? Islam is much more dangerous than Christianity. Most people would agree they are just to PC to say so.
Me: [after picking my jaw off the ground] I can't believe my eyes. First, you fail to respond to any of my actual comments, and then you pull 9/11 out of your arse? Are you seriously comparing the Fort Hood shootings with 9/11? Really?
I'll just say this: the 9/11 attacks were carried out primarily by European residents who--as far as we know--did not become radicalized until they lived in a Christian-majority culture. More here.
When you get a chance, look up the most populous Muslim country in the world. I bet the answer will surprise you.
Her: The Fort Hood shootings are a domestic terrorist attack just like 9/11. It doesn't matter where the terrorists resided before the attack, homegrown or not, families are grieving for their loved ones now. [Hallelujah! She finally made a rational statement.]
Me: I think we've finally found the answer to why Nidal went nuts--imagine him being surrounded 24/7 by mostly white conservative Christians who probably associated him with 9/11 merely b/c of his religious choice. Congratulations, Kim--you may have helped us figure out why all this happened.
Her: Any religion that promotes blowing oneself up or denying women rights is nuts. The Fort Hood shooter had sympathy for suicide bombers. What a coward. Interesting that you have sympathy for this guy...
Me: Again, thanks to you bringing up non sequiturs like 9/11 and suicide bombings, we can finally understand that Nidal may have been surrounded by mostly white Christians who blamed him for 9/11 because of his religious choice. We also know Nidal's car was vandalized in an act of anti-Muslim hatred. Obviously, a hostile work environment does not excuse murder. At the sametime, everyone is asking, "Why did he do this?"
Unfortunately, the answer may be unsatisfying and therefore overlooked; in short, we may be dealing with another case of a hostile work environment leading to workplace violence. That hypothesis is much more rational than believing, as you apparently do, that God caused Nidal to murder numerous people.
Her: He had Sudden Jihad Syndrome... [At this point in the discussion, Kim or someone else deleted all of her comments from the Atlantic's facebook wall, so I have to start paraphrasing.]
Me: Is it like Crazy Christian Syndrome, which tolerated lynchings, slavery, and black church bombings? You conveniently forget that many Americans once despised white Christians b/c of their willingness--similar to yours--to advance hatred against minority groups. Guess who said the following?
"I ain't no Christian. I can't be, when I see all the colored people fighting for forced integration getting blown up. They get hit by stones and chewed by dogs, and they blow up a Negro church and don't find the killers...Followers of Allah are the sweetest people in the world...All they want to do is live in peace."
I have no doubt that if you were in the South in the 60's, you'd be at Little Rock screaming those kids down and in Alabama cheering on Bull Connor. You've somehow inherited the kind of cultural myopia that went out of style several decades ago. Back then, though, people could blame segregation for their cultural myopia--after all, the law prevented them from interacting with people different from themselves. You, on the other hand, have no excuse for your cultural myopia and anti-Muslim beliefs.
My prayers are with the families who lost their loved ones at Fort Hood. May God look over them and the 5000+ American soldiers who have died so far in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Her: [Again, I am paraphrasing this comment from recent memory.] Almost all Muslims are not terrorists, but almost all terrorists are Muslim.
When an act of terrorism happens, you can be sure that a Muslim is behind it.
Me: you have access to a list of crimes committed all over the world, broken down by religious affiliation? Or are you just pulling your "facts" based on arbitrary mass media accounts? You have made a statement that is impossible to verify, b/c no reliable evidence exists to support it. Let me explain why your comment lacks credence, common sense, and logic. Here are some other lovely "facts" we can agree on if we go by mass media accounts:
(WARNING: heavy sarcasm to follow...)
1. You can be sure whenever a crime is committed against a gay person in America, a white Christian is behind it. Remember Matthew Shepard? Clearly, gay people need to avoid white Christians if they want to feel safe, right?
2. Whenever there is corporate embezzlement in America, you can be sure a Jew (Madoff) or Christian (Pendergest-Holt) is behind it. Last time I checked, no devout Muslims have committed securities fraud...well, at least that's what the television told me (note the dripping sarcasm)
3. Whenever an American president lies to the American people, whether it's about WMDs or Watergate, we can be sure he's a white Christian. Obviously, we need to stop electing white Christians as presidents.
I could go on for days, but just like you, I don't know if any of the above statements are actually true. They might sound true, but only a dimwit would actually believe such statements without reviewing actual statistics...which don't exist for the type of comment you made. Even if they did exist, making any broad statement based on statistics is foolish.
Let's say, for example, we determine that mostly African-Americans are on death row for committing capital crimes. So what? It doesn't tell us anything about whether black people commit capital crimes at higher rates than the general population, because too many other factors are involved. For example, lack of adequate representation could be involved. Perhaps D.A.s prosecute black persons at higher rates than non-black persons. Perhaps juries tend to give white murderers jail sentences and black murderers the death penalty, etc.
For instance, I could copy your style of "reasoning" and say, "Almost all white people are not NeoNazis, but almost all NeoNazis are white. Or have you already forgotten about the Holocaust Museum shooting and the anthrax mailings?" (I hope you understand that unlike you, I am being sarcastic.)
Even a 6th grader ought to be able to understand that broad statements, like the ones you are making, lack value. Anyone can speculate about what they see on TV. But it is shocking that an adult who has presumably graduated high school is unable to understand that mass media isn't a reliable indicator of overall and total criminal activity.
To copy your "logic," I hope you understand that while white Christians like yourself aren't necessarily NeoNazis, we need to be careful about people like you because almost all NeoNazis are white Christians. Please contact the FBI and have them monitor you pursuant to the Patriot Act immediately. Thank you for your service to this country. [Again, note sarcasm.]