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This isn’t particularly surprising.
American civil liberties get massacred during such crises. Instead of calling Major Hasan an ‘alleged’ shooter till he is confirmed guilty by a court of law (Fifth Amendment), speculators have already gone judge, jury and executioner on him.
What’s despicable is that allegations of Islamic terrorism are already in the media spin and public discourse over this gruesome incident. The mainstream media wasted no time in linking a minority religion to a mass murder simply due to our preconceived notions of who commits ‘terrorism’ or ‘jihad’ for that matter. As a response to this unjust heterogenous racial interpellation, Muslim organizations were quick to come out and condemn the attacks. As a response to backlash, many will back away from the interpellation (I am not a Muslim) rather than condemn all violence.
United States national identity has always predicated on a phantasmic threat of an internal or external Other, from indigenous peoples to slaves to USSR during the Cold War to immigrants and anyone that can be marked with an old Orientalist trope. Often, labels create a self-fulfilling prophecy that reinforces a bi-polar world-view. The case of Major Hasan might just be one of those self-fulfilling prophecies hidden beneath moral panic.
I’ll share my preliminary thoughts when I heard about this incident. One, Fort Hood happens when the state deploys people to take part in a war that it cannot justify. A little known fact from Vietnam was that by the end of the war, American soldiers threw bombs at their own. While there is no active draft in place, there are certainly backdoor drafts and socio-economic conditions that tempt unwilling participants to give their lives for this country. It’s certainly an unpopular thought but it is not xenophobic and bigoted like the thoughts of those who immediately jumped to the conclusion that this was a ‘Muslim terrorist’ attack.
I ask everyone to pray (in their own way) for the families of the victims. But also keep in mind and pray for the victims of the unwarranted backlash that may just intensify against Muslims and people of color in this country.
Video Courtesy: Al Jazeera