I’ve never felt that the media, or much of it, and the nation’s leaders have grown more remote from the men and women who keep this nation free than I did in listening to and in scanning news accounts of the act of domestic terrorism at Ft. Hood.
Among the first accounts I heard or read focused on jihadist Nidal M. Hasan as victim, a poor troubled soul driven to commit mass murder because he’d been taunted by insensitive non-Muslims because of his Muslim name. And, too, there was the presumption that he had been driven over the edge because of “post-traumatic stress syndrome,” though it must have been the post-traumatic stress of others he’d counseled, since as a psychiatrist he was never in combat. And, finally, it was that he opposed the war and the mean old military authorities were making him go to a war zone anyway. The implied story here was that an unpopular war makes rational men of good conscience flip out and do really bad things. It’s not their fault.
President Barack Obama later reinforced that feeling of disconnect when talking about the “valiant” men and women who had been killed at Ft. Hood. Obama’s choice of words has indicated before that he has no clue what valor is and what heroes are and when to apply the terms to actions by men and women in uniform. They were victims of domestic terrorism, just as the office-workers in the World Trade Center were victims. Going about their normal course of business in a setting previously believed to be safe and secure does not make them valiant.
Opinion leaders have been conditioned to believe that bad things happen because bullies and other insensitive louts drive the weak to acts of extremism — and it is, therefore, not their fault. Victimhood has become a status symbol, perhaps the status symbol of choice for the successful. Those who overcome victimhood to achieve are the super-achievers and the most admired. Those who can’t overcome it, and therefore commit acts of extreme violence, are to be pitied and protected from those of us who want them punished appropriately, which in the case of Nidal Hassan would be the death penalty.
Hassan gave off ample evidence of his drift toward extremism, but nobody paid proper attention because to do so would have invited others to question whether they were, like those bad others, singling him out because of his name and religion.
I’ve always thought the U.S. should have a military draft. It exposes future leaders to men and women in uniform and gives them a better understanding of who they are and what they endure for our freedoms. I’ve never thought that more strongly than now.