I’ve been reading about the Fort Hood shooting this morning, like most everyone else. There’s lots of bad and misleading information being passed around this close to the confusion, I’m sure. A few things stood out in the reporting, though, most of them having to do with the alleged shooter being Muslim, or more specifically, not Christian.
- Major Hasan apparently received a load of flack from fellow soldiers over the last eight years about how his religion has allied him with the enemies of the U.S. We are currently involved in two wars. In both wars, our allies and our enemies share a religion, although the details vary. If we can’t distinguish between the two better than that, we’re in incredibly deep trouble.
- Major Hasan was reportedly reprimanded for proselytizing. Considering the current state of our
evangelicalarmed services, this is galling. How much did the unequal treatment contribute to turning fellow soldiers into targets?
- Major Hasan reportedly shouted, “Allahu Akbar!” before shooting. This is being treated as evidence of motivation in several venues. This is a ritual phrase. If he had shouted, “Help me, Jesus!” instead, would it be so widely reported? Would anyone think it was a clue to anything aside from a religious person being terribly upset?
We don’t know what happened with this shooting, or why. It’s going to be some time before we do–to the extent we ever know. In the meantime, beware of people trying to play on your own internalized narratives. Watch out for reporting that creates stories out of stereotypes and xenophobia.
The shooting has stopped. We can afford some uncertainty. We have time to figure out what happened. And we’ve seen enough in the last eight years to know how well it goes when we lay blame and act before we do that.