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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The magical thinking of the multi-culturalists

Dorothy Rabinowitz turns her razor-like analysis to the way in which the military has behaved throughout the entire story of Major Hasan, the Fort Hood mass murderer. First the military totally ignored all the signs of radical Islamic thinking that he gave off throughout his training and work. He was, apparently, given to making statements about how his devotion to Islam came higher than his devotion to the Constitution and that the U.S. was guilty of launching a war on Islam. He publicly presented views sympathetic to Osama bin Laden and suicide bombers, including the 9/11 conspirators. But comments or evaluation of such behavior never made it into any of his professional evaluations. Instead they saw his public rants about his Islamist sympathies as a positive because he was presenting a view not commonly heard in the American military. Hmmm. I wonder why such views are uncommon.
The same Hasan who set off silent alarms in his supervisors—the Psychiatric Residency Program Director at Walter Reed was one of them—would garner only plaudits in the official written evaluations at the time. He was commended in these as a "star officer," one focused on "illuminating the role of culture and Islamic faith within the Global War on Terrorism." One supervisor testified, "His unique interests have captured the interest and attention of peers and mentors alike." No single word of criticism or doubt about Hasan ever made its way into any of his evaluations.

Some of those enthusiastic testaments strongly suggested that the writers were themselves at least partly persuaded of their reasoning. In magical thinking, safety and good come to those who obey taboos, and in the multiculturalist world, there is no taboo more powerful than the one that forbids acknowledgment of realities not in keeping with the progressive vision. In the world of the politically correct—which can apparently include places where psychiatrists are taught—magical thinking reigns.
Even after the Fort Hood shooting, the military worked with dedication to ignore the signs that he was motivated by radical Islam to kill the members of the military at Fort Hood. It is only because of the Senate report put out by Senators Collins and Lieberman that the public has a glimpse into who Major Hasan is.
In this report, titled "A Ticking Time Bomb" and put out by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, there is a detail as dazzling in its bleak way as all the glowing misrepresentations of Dr. Hasan's skills and character, which his superiors poured into their evaluations of him. It concerns the Department of Defense's official report on the Foot Hood killings—a study whose recital of fact made no mention of Hasan's well-documented jihadist sympathies. Subsequent DoD memoranda portray the bloodbath—which began with Hasan shouting "Allahu Akbar!"—as a kind of undefined extremism, something on the order, perhaps, of work-place violence.

This avoidance of specifics was apparently contagious—or, more precisely, policy. In November 2010, each branch of the military issued a final report on the Fort Hood shooting. Not one mentioned the perpetrator's ties to radical Islam. Even today, "A Ticking Time Bomb," co-authored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) and Susan Collins (R., Maine), reminds us that DoD still hasn't specifically named the threat represented by the Fort Hood attack—a signal to the entire Defense bureaucracy that the subject is taboo.
What this means is that the magical thinking of the multi-culturalists will continue. The willful blindness that they showed to Hasan's anti-American rants will be shown towards anyone else of similar thinking. The top brass of the Department of Defense has demonstrated that they will not tolerate any connection between radical Islam and concerns about behavior. It is not enough that they ignored the warning signs given off by this man before he killed 13 people and wounded 32 others; they have to dedicate themselves to continuing to ignore such behavior. What is important is maintaining the pieties of multi-culturalism, not forestalling future incidents.


Roy Lofquist said...

Dear Betsy,

The military has probably the most difficult mission ever. They take in a vast amount of citizens who are paid extremely low wages and subject them to discipline and conditions that are totally at variance with the American experience. Then they ask them to die if necessary and without question.

All this while scrupulously adhering to the doctrine of subordination to civilian control. They are very serious about this - most willingly.

This, of course, causes many problems where the rubber meets the road. The screwup with Major Hassan strikes a familiar note with my experiences in the Army. When you get an a**hole in your outfit you have some choices - shape him up or ship him out. It's a lot easier to ship him out. Promote him out of the TOE (Table of organisation and equipment).

This is what happened with John Kerry in Vietnam. The commanders said "this guy is going to get people killed - find some way to get him out of here". They gave him Purple Hearts for hang nails and got rid of him.

Unfortunately in the case of Major Hassan they got that occasional bite on the backside. This was not the fault of the military but rather the fault of the American people in their selection of their civilian leaders.

Of course the miscreants are looking for scapegoats. That's OK. The soldiers will still go out and die for you. It's their job.



tfhr said...


The Army has a long standing program called SAEDA. You probably remember sitting through that brief more than a few times. It has been around since the late '80s/early 90's and it exists to prevent Subversion and Espionage Directed Against the (US)Army, hence the clever acronym. At a time when awareness for threats should be at its highest, SAEDA was totally disregarded.

Every leader in the Army is expected to know, understand and act on the Army regulations that comprise SAEDA. There was a catastrophic failure on the part of numerous Army leaders at many levels with regard to SAEDA.

The fact that our intel community and law enforcement organizations are still so poorly coordinated and so seldom provide mutual support or show any degree of effective collaboration is just more salt in an open, gaping wound.

We are at war but we repeatedly fail to recognize that and instead we willingly allow political agendas to obscure that simple fact. The relatively low intensity of this war, the impact of political correctness, and the untimely impact of electioneering by our politicians will sustain this failed posture and we can probably expect to see it again in some other manifestation.

Roy Lofquist said...


After my time. I was in 61-63.

As I mentioned, things are different where the rubber meets the road. There are countless volumes of regulations. Those who spout them are called "barracks lawyers".

There is a degree of command autonomy in our armed forces - more than any others. It is one of the secrets of our success. Remember George C. Scott's line as Patton - "Rommel, you magnificent bastard. I read your book".

The mission to keep your own unit in shape for the day when the bullets fly often supersedes "The Book".


tfhr said...


Barracks lawyers aren't as bad as the real thing sometimes; I have little patience for either.

You would be horrified if you saw how integral and second nature it has become to incorporate legal consultations into battlefield decisions. Combine that relatively recent development with a long standing policy of zero tolerance for anything that anyone can remotely construe as a race, ethnic, religious, or gender based slight and you find yourself with an Army of warrior monks that sometimes fears the wrath of its own inner policing more than combat. At least on the battlefield you can fire back - if the ROE allows, the JAG gives a green light, and you've done the proper call out in the local languages to ensure that everyone has had the chance to vacate the area or go to ground. You get the picture: This isn't your father's Army, your Army, and hardly the Army I recently retired from but it is an Army at war; I just wish we would let it fight like one.