Yes, that much is certainly true. It would be curious if it were not true. We are a country that is profoundly uncomfortable with ethnic and religious differences and yet have tried to be widely open and welcoming to it, I don't know that we started that tradition in the world, but I think that we may have been close to the first people to have made a point of it, and a lot of the learning processes and a lot of the mistakes, as a result, have been made right here. When we are at our best, I think the world forgives us for them because they know that we keep doing it, and are working on that ongoing experiment. To ask everybody in the country to feel comfortable about the process at all times is asking a bit much, I think. Having the process enshrined in law is enough. Being serious about the law is enough.
To call the enshrinement of those expectations into law "political correctness" seems an apt description of exactly how bitter and difficult this internal struggle can feel for us sometimes. It's never come easy for us, and I don't think it's about to start now. The armed forces has been historically one of those places where this struggle has been fought and won, though it's been a bitter fight there, too. A lot of Jews were disproportionately glad that Barry Goldwater got to be a General, Blacks when Colin Powell became the head of the JCOS and so on. It's where a lot of these struggles go on, sometimes for centuries, and it may be part of the reason why it's so important to the gay population today. The armed forces are a special marker for minorities.
It doesn't come as a shock to see the army as one of the places where the struggle for acceptance by muslims is easily spotlighted. The armed forces have experience with dealing with minorities. They're actually, I think, somewhat better about it than the rest of us, because they're used to making mistakes and understand there's no way of getting through these things without doing so, probably over and over again. And that the first mistake is trying to know what you're talking about before you have the facts.
And that's why, in the same article you quoted above, the Army Chief of Staff actually took some of those other factors into consideration.
Army Chief of Staff George Casey warned against reaching conclusions about the suspected shooter's motives until investigators have fully explored the attack. He said on ABC's "This Week" that focusing on Hasan's Islamic roots could "heighten the backlash" against all Muslims in the military.
Now that doesn't mean that political correctness may not be a factor. I'd be surprised if it didn't have some part to play here, even if it were to be limited to that of a snap judgement on the part of the far right. It's simply that there's such a thing as settling for a fast answer because it's easy. Sometimes it's easy and right; then everything's great, but when it's only easy, you're in trouble.
So, were there signs anything but an the easy answer needed to be considered?
Well, there was the information I offered about PTSD in an earlier posting, but let's set that aside as not worth consideration for right now.
In the article that you quoted, Mike, there were some things mentioned.
There had been signs in recent months that Hasan's growing anger with the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were at odds with his military service, including his comments that the war on terror was "a war on Islam."
Well, you know, that could prove to be difficult. The British didn't particularly want to sent British/Jewish troops to fight in British Palestine. It would have been, well, basically stupid. It would have been a potentially agonizing conflict of interest, and they didn't do it. It would have been asking for trouble, both in Palestine and, well, at home, too.
Even while we had Japanese interned in concentration camps here in the United States, the Japanese mean, many of them, pushed to be sent overseas to fight. The US agreed, but they didn't send them to fight the Japanese. Why? Oh, yeah, it would have been stupid. Even if the Japanese had been willing, and many of them said they were, it would have put them into a terrible situation. We sent them to Italy and the 442nd did a wonderful job.
No doubt you can think of other examples yourself.
To send Muslims to fight in a war that's been hyped as a crusade, and in many quarters has been talked about a war of Christians against Muslims for much if not most of the time it's been going on may or may not be ultimately a great thing to do. But in the short term, I think it's designed to produced major conflicts in Muslim troops. Call me a wild-haired guy who is just pulling this one out of thin air, but that's the way I'd call it.
And that's if Hasan had all his poultry marching in rank and file to begin with, geese included. Which fairly obviously, he did not. Saying this is political correctness may be true in part, but it also sounds like some massive policy failure brought on by lack of personnel in the all volunteer army. A sane policy would never have put really really healthy troops in a situation like that, would it?
And now more from your article, Mike:
Others who knew Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, said he had wrestled with what to tell fellow Muslim solders who had their doubts about fighting in Islamic countries.
Well, there is that, isn't there.
That is, people who look up to you and count on you for advice because you're one of them and at the same time an officer in the army come to you and want to know what to about being asked to do something that's feeling well — what's that word? — wrong. So probably 99% of them are total goof-offs trying to get out of this army and hoping for an easy touch from a Muslim officer that they wouldn't get from somebody of another faith? Maybe there's one of them in that hundred that's actually got a real question?
Or maybe more of them than that have a real ethical question about the matter. I think they're real American soldier, and capable of having real feelings about real things that are worth listening to with real concern, myself. That's really all a lot of them need, not a jolt of electricity, or a dose of pills, but some serious listening and a decent comment from a guy who's actually heard what they've had to say. That's what a lot of psychotherapy comes down to, the willingness to shut up and actually listen. Much more difficult to do than you'd think.
And if you actually do it right, both people walk out of the room different. Not simply the patient, you know. If you really listen, you really have to feel what the other person's saying, it changes you, sometimes forever. It's not a mechanical process. That's why a lot of psychotherapists end up with what they call secondary PTSD, simply from listening openly to all that stuff. On some level, the brain doesn't know the difference between the stuff of dream and the stuff of reality. They're processed the same way. You should be having on-going supervision while you're doing therapy, especially if you're working with difficult folks.
Sop all those real questions that those patients had have got to be real questions for Hasan as well. The military is great at a lot of things, and military medicine is good for a lot of things. Supervision of countertransference has never been one of them. Nor, for that matter, has been dealing with depression.
And once again from the AP article, Mike:
"I told him, `There's something wrong with you,'" Osman Danquah, co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I didn't get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn't seem right."
A lot of people seemed to notice. It would be nice to see some people actually take responsibility for what happened instead of pointing fingers everywhere else.
Yes, political correctness. Now, what else, specifically, so that we can do something about the issues instead of finding something to blame.
Don't forget, that in this case the political correctness is essentially the fear of having a black mark in one's file for saying something that isn't popular but which is necessary to say. The actual fact that (at this point) 13 soldier have died and 40 have been wounded points out that this is cowardice. More than a platoon has been wiped out as a result of what amounts to cowardice by people who say that they are willing to put their lives on the line for each other. Those who reported Hasan did their jobs. Those who failed to pass those reports up the line with the proper endorsements may be guilty of "political correctness." If so, they are also guilty of putting their careers ahead of the good of the service and ultimately the lives of their fellow soldiers.
Conservatives are frequently the ones who talk about not needing extra laws to take care of crimes already covered. If there is a crime here, it is cowardice. Political correctness can be dealt with. Cowardice in people who are in so many ways not cowards, is much more difficult, isn't it?
With considerable confusion, Bob Kaven