Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nidal Malik Hasan: Islamist?

"The Koranic World View
As It Relates
Muslims in the U.S. Military"
Nidal Malik Hasan
(Image from Wikipedia)

The above image is slide number 49 of 50 in toto from a PowerPoint presentation given by Nidal Malik Hasan in June 2007 at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center during the senior year of his residency there. The entire series can be seen at the Washington Post's site "Hasan on Islam," but is also available for faster reading at Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch site on pdf.

Without knowing what Hasan actually stated in his presentation, I cannot conclusively affirm that he was stating his own opinions about what Islam truly teaches or simply reporting the opinions of others. But whatever he intended at the time of his presentation, by November 5, 2007, his actions clearly demonstrate that he had come to adopt an interpretation of Islam that he must have thought justified him in killing 13 people and wounding 30 others.

The question that many people are asking about Hasan at the time of his shooting rampage is this: Was Hasan a disturbed individual, or was he an Islamist?

I think that he was both, but not so profoundly disturbed as to render him less than responsible for his actions. David Brooks, writing "The Rush to Therapy" (November 9, 2009) for the New York Times, has some interesting thoughts on the tendency of too many pundits and other public figures to absolve Hasan, and his article should definitely be read in its entirety. In the course of his analysis, however, Brooks makes a remark that is certain to generate some controversy:
The conversation in the first few days after the massacre was well intentioned, but it suggested a willful flight from reality. It ignored the fact that the war narrative of the struggle against Islam is the central feature of American foreign policy. It ignored the fact that this narrative can be embraced by a self-radicalizing individual in the U.S. as much as by groups in Tehran, Gaza or Kandahar.
Did Brooks really mean to say that "the war narrative of the struggle against Islam is the central feature of American foreign policy"? That isn't the war narrative at all, and the statement doesn't sound quite like the Brooks that I know. Did he mean to write "Islamists"? Or "Islamism"? Or "radical Islam"?

The line drawn between Islam and Islamism is a fine one, to be sure, but it's a pragmatically useful one to draw even as we debate precisely where to draw it, for Muslims need to see that we non-Muslims recognize a difference, and that we therefore perceive a choice between a moderate version of their Muslim religion and a radicalized one.

There are, manifestly, moderate Muslims, they are the only hope for the peaceful integration of Islam in our contemporary world, and their existence reminds us of why we need to draw the fateful line with prudence.

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At 4:49 AM, Blogger Scott F said...

Unfortunately Mr. Brooks (inadvertently?) expresses a perception that Muslims in many parts of the world have come to themselves. One would hope that someone immersed in the society that believes its motives are noble would come to a different conclusion. Dr. Hasan did not.

As to culpability, he deserves the same justice as the likes of Timothy McVeigh received - a fair trial and appropriate penalty if found guilty.

At 5:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Scott, for the visit and comment. We'll have to wait and see what Brooks has to say about his meaning.

You are, of course, right that many Muslims do see the so-called 'War on Terror' as a war on Islam.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:24 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

I think the downplay of Hasan possibly being an Islamist is do to this.

At 3:50 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, thanks for the link. The story is an odd one, isn't it, sort of amusing but also sad. The ex-marine obviously needs to get off those testosterone treatments.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:39 PM, Blogger dim said...

Nidal malik Hasans deadly rampage is a wakeup call for all Americans
Look around you today. What do you see? Religious people all over the world warring against each other: Muslims against Jews, Hindus against Muslims, Shiites against Sunnis, Protestants against Catholics.
Most of the world's ills can be traced to the hatred of one religious group against another.

How many times have you heard devout Christians say that when it comes to loyalty between their country and their God...they'll choose their God every time.

It's not just Islamists that we need to be wary of. It's anyone who believes that God speaks to them, that they are the only true representatives of God on earth, and that God comes before country.

They are ticking time bombs.

Sound like anyone you know?

It's time for religious fanatics of all faiths to "love this country or leave it".

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dim, I suppose that much depends upon what 'God' is saying to the religious individual, but I take your point that we ought to be concerned about fanatics in any religion.

But there do seem to be rather a lot of Islamist fanatics these days.

Jeffery Hodges

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