Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Major Hasan is not a terrorist. He is a murderer.

Dear Editor (New York Times),
David Brooks may be missing the motivation of Major Hasan’s bloody assault at Ft. Hood (“The Rush to Therapy” Nov. 10, 2009). Hasan was a biochemist. If terror were his motive the death toll could have been far higher. Perhaps his murderous action was “to teach us a lesson about the reality of our war on terrorism”. Such a motive wouldn’t be “evil”, irrational or even insane. But it would be bloody.
It is possible that Hasan’s natural “drive to seek coherence and meaning” in the culture and nation that he was “born into” had come to a bitter end – and, he found our real “war narrative” monstrously unacceptable. And no one – especially those in power -- would listen.
Our national story is that ‘we try to avoid “collateral damage”, apologize when it happens, and then continue fighting’. Perhaps forcing of Hasan to participate in this narrative was an error. Undoubtedly, our “narrative” that ‘the loss of innocent life is acceptable when we are fighting a war for our freedom and security’ -- is better than a narrative that intentionally targets innocent life. But, both narratives justify murder. First degree murder is far worse than third degree murder – but ‘in country’ both are still a murderous crime, while elsewhere, if innocent Muslims die, it’s “Sorry! Just ‘collateral damage’. Our bad!”
There is no doubt that lethal impact of American firepower on the innocent lives in Afghanistan and/or Iraq is numerous, horrific, and unavoidable as long as we continue our other national narrative of ‘war’ as solution. Many of our active soldiers and army doctors know of this deadly outcome – yet they continue to follow orders. Hasan couldn’t follow those orders. He could have taken his own life, went AWOL, or retired to the brig to avoid ‘service’… but that wouldn’t even dent our narratives. General Shinseki confirmed this week that our war narrative is virtually immune to US soldier suicides (since 9-11 more US veterans have committed suicide than been killed in combat during the same period – yet we don’t question war as a solution).
Did Hasan hope to shake our nation’s narrative of gross disregard for third degree mass murder of tens of thousands of innocent Muslims? Perhaps his “shock and awe” assault was the only way he could shock us into thinking rationally about our “war narrative” against a tactic.
Any fair trial should determine that Major Hasan is mentally fit and guilty beyond any shadow of a doubt of multiple counts of first degree murder. He should then be held accountable for his heinous crime. But he’s not the only murderer who should be receiving a well deserved verdict. Perhaps its time we chose our nation’s most powerful narrative… the global rule of law…instead of the lawlessness of world war.

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