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Government's Fort Hood Follies

by David J. Rusin

Nov 30, 2009

Major Nidal Malik Hasan's Islamist rampage at Fort Hood shocked the country, but the feckless responses from various levels of government will surprise no one. Consider these four cases of politically correct incompetence in action:

  • DHS chief Janet Napolitano announced in Abu Dhabi that she is working to head off a backlash against Muslims. "We object to, and do not believe, that anti-Muslim sentiment should emanate from this," she stated, adding that her agency aims to "prevent everybody being painted with a broad brush." It goes without saying that Americans should not blame all Muslims for the crimes of one, but it is not the role of government to police our "sentiments." As Jennifer Rubin writes, Napolitano arrogantly assumes that "Americans are too dumb to distinguish between nonviolent Muslims and those who've adopted a murderous ideology." The secretary's concern is misplaced and, as usual, there is no significant backlash. Rather than chasing overblown but PC-approved threats, she should focus on more pressing dangers - like jihadists, homegrown and otherwise.
  • Army Chief of Staff George Casey, also voicing worries about a nonexistent backlash, proclaimed that "our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse." Aside from the callousness of setting multicultural pieties above the safety of U.S. troops, one might argue that the key to an effective fighting force is uniformity - not of race or creed, but of loyalty, purpose, and sacrifice. Hasan's Islamist life left many clues of how he had deviated from this requisite uniformity. Yet political correctness edged out common sense and warning signs were dutifully dismissed.
  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg invited a group of Muslim leaders to New York's City Hall on November 11 to "discuss" the attack. The event's most ironic attendee: none other than Siraj Wahhaj, the radical imam named by federal prosecutors as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and follow-up plots. In reply to a question about his outreach including a man tied to terror, Bloomberg said, "We have to talk to everybody" because "that's how you prevent tragedies." His staff later backtracked, calling the invitation a mistake.
  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered a review of "whether military procedures hinder the identification of service members who pose a threat to their fellow troops," in the words of the Washington Post. However, he already has such a report. Counterterrorism expert Shannen Rossmiller accused the Pentagon of ignoring a study it had received last year on detecting extremism in the armed forces. "These people didn't have to die," she said, suggesting that fear of offending Muslims led to its shelving. Gates' review will do "exactly what this [first] report encompassed" - but after thirteen lives have been lost.

The Fort Hood attack proves that political correctness can be deadly. Yet the pusillanimous reactions to the bloodshed by government officials are laying the groundwork for future carnage.