While people like Jonah Goldberg at National Review are doing a far better job of "reporting" this incident than I ever could (or intend to do), I have decided after reading a fair amount about this event that a perspective from a (former) soldier is needed. After all, what I have seen in a bulk of the reporting on this issue needs to be sliced down the middle by Occam's Razor.
Simple facts first: He is a Muslim. As much as some media outlets seem bound and determined to ignore, this is a well established fact. And because many try to ignore it, something huge gets left out of the issue; namely, that because of the overwhelming lean towards political correctness and tolerance in the military today, "extremists" are increasingly difficult to weed out. There seems to be a loud cry about "how could he have continued to be in the Army??" Another question that could be asked, eliciting nearly the same response, would be "why do good people get out of the Army?"
The answer to both of those questions revolve around the ridiculousness of Army policy in the day and age of a "kinder, gentler military." Soldiers are constantly bombarded with class after class of "awareness" of some kind; whether it be sexual, racial, or suicidal in nature, that is a constant in Army life.
Please don't misunderstand me, some of this is a very good thing. Understanding signs for suicide prevention is never bad, for instance. However, after so many classes, a bulk of the Army is left with one overarching conclusion: that heterosexual, white males will, as a mathematical certainty, rape someone, hurl a racial epithet, and persecute due to religious preference. Possibly all at the same time, while carrying a rebel flag and burning a cross.
A few years back, in my other Army life, I remember a Ranger Instructor saying "all this political correctness is going to come back and bite the Army in the ass." It's tough not to think of that statement after the last few days. And while a lot of people don't see the connection, those of us that have been in for more than a day and have some common sense most certainly do.
Think about this: his own superiors quoted him as saying things that were totally inappropriate. Yet they did nothing. Why? Some will look at those superiors and fault them. I don't. At least not from what I understand. Simply put, I would imagine their hands were tied from doing what they probably thought in their heads as the right thing. Don't think so? Try this headline on for size:
Army Major relieved of duty for holding on to Islamic ideology.
Think that would fly over well in Washington? Think those officers wouldn't lose their retirement? If you don't, think again. The Army is one massive gravy train, and those who stay on it for life aren't getting off until they absolutely have to. If that means letting some nut-job psychiatrist run his mouth about jihad and the Great Satan, when the alternative is losing that cushy retirement check, then hell no they won't stop him. Nor would most people in the corporate world. Which is why everyone is "shocked" when Bill from accounting shows up with a MAC-10 hosing people down because he just couldn't take it anymore. No one wants to be the person who goes on record and says "oh yeah, I knew he would snap. But I didn't say anything 'cause I didn't want to lose my job."
But the Army is supposed to be different, right? Right?!?! Well yes, but it's not. Point of fact, it's much worse simply because people can't be fired. Yes, it's hard in corporate world too, but... In the Army, one has to...well, one would have to do basically what MAJ Hasan did to get fired. And here we are.
What I'm getting at here is that the Army is not what most people think it is -- there are little to no repercussions for one's actions. I have seen people who, by all tests of logic, should not have even been allowed to wear the uniform be promoted into the ranks of both the officer and non-commissioned officer corps. Part of it is a need for bodies. There just aren't enough people to fill the ranks. But an even bigger aspect is what we see with people like MAJ Hasan. I would bet my bank account that there are over 20 soldiers who have been in contact with that guy in the last 6 months uttering a phrase that is similar to "they promoted that guy???" Yet, as stated earlier, one could be punished for expressing said discontent more so than a MAJ Hasan would be for stating his "religious views," even if they include beheading of the same men he shares a uniform with.
So that I don't appear to be complaining without a solution, here is what I propose:
1) Knock of the tolerance crap in the Army and trade it for good, hard training. If people are focused on doing their job, they are much less likely to invent problems like complaining that so-and-so made fun of them for whatever reason. The person doing the whining will either be too tired to complain, or they will not be there. Whiny people tend not to make it through hard training, if (leading me to the next one)...
2) Enforce the standards. Across the board. In other words, if someone fails a physical fitness test, they don't get a pass because they are a Muslim. Think it doesn't happen? Think again. As stated above, the type of person who causes the most problems generally doesn't have what it takes to make it through tough training. Conversely, those who do make it through tough training tend to be more focused on the real problems at hand.
3) Accept that, by the strictest definitions and interpretations of the Qu'ran, Islam is a violent religion. Yes, I'm putting myself on a hit list here (which would, in effect, prove my point), and yes there are many millions of peaceful Muslims. But there is way, way too much tolerance when it comes to this subject. It needs to stop, and it needs to be accompanied by a good, hard look at the religion and doctrine taught by way more of the Islamic world than many think. Using "there are millions of peaceful Muslims" as a defense is both inadequate and intellectually hollow. There are a lot of Catholic priests who diddle little boys, too. That doesn't mean they are following doctrine when they do it.
4) Also accept that when a Muslim man yells "Allah akbar" as he is shooting people, it is, in fact, an act of terrorism. And it's "OK" to call it that. The PC Police won't arrest you for being intolerant. You may get called that by people like Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, but I would consider that a win for me anyway.
Oh and do yourself a favor by doing some reading on the Muslim clerics people like MAJ Hasan studied under. Then come back and tell me that we need more "tolerance."
This is a subject which I hold near and dear to my heart, so it will be covered in greater detail later. For now, however, I thought it important to get some thoughts down in the written form.