Thirteen dead and 28 wounded would be a bad day for the U.S. military in Afghanistan and a great victory for the Taliban. When it happens in Texas, in the heart of the biggest military base in the nation, at a processing center for soldiers either returning from or deploying to combat overseas, it is not merely a “tragedy” (as too many people called it) but a glimpse of a potentially fatal flaw at the heart of what we have called, since 9/11, the “war on terror.” Brave soldiers trained to hunt down and kill America’s enemy abroad were killed in the safety and security of home by, in essence, the same enemy – a man who believes in and supports everything the enemy does.
And he’s a U.S. Army major.
And his superior officers and other authorities knew about his beliefs but seemed to think it was just a bit of harmless multicultural diversity – as if believing that “the Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor” (i.e., his fellow American soldiers) and writing Internet paeans to the “noble” “heroism” of suicide bombers and, indeed, objectively supporting the other side in an active war is to be regarded as just some kind of alternative lifestyle that adds to the general vibrancy of the base.
Jeffrey Goldberg noticed the same hole:
I am not arguing, of course, that American Muslims, as a whole, are violently unhappy with America (I’ve argued the opposite, in fact). But I do think that elite makers of opinion in this country try very hard to ignore the larger meaning of violent acts when they happen to be perpetrated by Muslims. Here’s a simple test: If Nidal Malik Hasan had been a devout Christian with pronounced anti-abortion views, and had he attacked, say, a Planned Parenthood office, would his religion have been considered relevant as we tried to understand the motivation and meaning of the attack? Of course. Elite opinion makers do not, as a rule, try to protect Christians and Christian belief from investigation and criticism. Quite the opposite. It would be useful to apply the same standards of inquiry and criticism to all religions.
This hole, this blind spot, is not a good thing. While I certainly do not advocate condemning every member of any group for the actions of a few, turning a blind eye to those bad actors is not intelligent. In fact, it is ultimately suicidal. Excessive tolerance is pathological.