Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pondering the Muslim Factor

Two really good pieces today on the fall-out from the shootings at Ft. Hood last week. Over at The Nation, John Nichols asks pertinent questions that we should all be asking (once again) about how we view our Muslim brothers and sisters:

What was the bigger factor motivating Major Hasan: stress or religion?

Was Major Hasan a cold, calculating Islamic extremist or a deeply troubled man who was about to be dispatched to a warzone (Afghanistan) on a mission that associates and family members said was his "worst nightmare"?

Was the stress Major Hasan was under the sort that might lead an otherwise responsible individual to get lost in a swirl of religious ranting and fundamentalist fantasy?

Could such stress lead other individuals to embrace fundamentalisms, be they Muslim, Jewish or Christian?

Might it be a good idea to strengthen the wall of separation between church and state in what is supposed to be a secular fighting force?

And don't hestitate to ask questions about Muslims in the military?

Was Major Hasan a typical American Muslim? or an outlier far removed from the mainstream values and practices of a religion that has been practiced in the United States since the founding of the republic?

Was Major Hasan typical in any way of the thousands of Muslims who currently serve in the U.S. military?

Isn't it true that the overwhelming majority of Muslim soldiers serve with distinction and that, overall, Muslim soldiers -- like their Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu comrades -- have historically been seen as less likely to get involved with fights and violence on military bases?

Isn't it true that Muslim soldiers are seen by military commanders as essential players in a diverse Army that does not merely reflect the whole of America but that presents the best face of America in a world where it is vital to assure that this country's military missions are not dismissed as the "crusades" of a western nation that does not understand Islam or Islamic states?

Was Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey right when he warned against actions that could "heighten the backlash" against Muslims in the military and argued that Muslim soldiers provide diversity "gives us ALL strength"?

Was General Casey even more right when he declared after the shootings, and after he had reviewed detailed reports about Major Hasan's background, motivations and actions, that: "As great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well"?

In addition, Glenn Greenwald unmasks the hypocrisy of the American mainstream media that somehow continues to assume the violent nature of Islam while the US military has slain 100s of thousands of civilian Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

Reminds me of the women singing in I Samuel 18:7:

Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.

Also reminds me of the inspiring message I heard from the radical Muslim Bay-Area imam Amir Abdel Malik Ali at UC Irvine a few months ago. We have a lot to learn from our Muslim brothers and sisters if we are bold enough to listen.

--Theological Autopilot

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