Fort Hood and a coming bind
By Daniel M. Ryan
It didn't take long for the mother-henning to start. Despite the eye-witness evidence that Nidal Hasan yelled out Allahu Akbar! just before his murderous rampage; despite reports that Dr. Hasan was an Islamist with a habit of aggressively proselytizing; despite his proselytizing being mixed with sympathy for the enemy and his insistence that it was wrong for Muslim soldiers in the U.S. to shoot fellow Muslims; despite his wearing a garment the same color that suicide jihadists use when they're ready to kill; despite him echoing extremist Muslim beliefs in personal E-mails and even at work – despite all these factors, the old media is still pumping out the message that his faith was irrelevant to his actions. Some are even using the word "anecdotal" to describe eye-witness testimony, which would make a large majority of guilty verdicts "anecdotally-based." The use of a term that's appropriate to the sciences, but inappropriate to the law, is a clear sign of mother-henning.
Admittedly, there's a case to be made for it. If Hasan's actions are linked to his faith, then it could make all Muslims into enemies. Doing so would pit the United States against 1.57 billion Muslims, not to mention forty-five nations with majority Muslim populations. (Not to mention almost all OPEC nations.) That wouldn't exactly be prudent, let alone diplomatic.
However, making an enemy of 22.9% of the world's population doesn't seem to be the issue here. At issue is the reaction of American Muslim soldiers when America is invading a Muslim nation. This quandary isn't specific to Islam; it's true of any faith. Case in point: the Mexican war. Since (Protestant) U.S soldiers began burning churches and desecrating the Host, some Roman Catholic troops deserted and fought for the other side in the St. Patrick's Brigade. (Those who like to ascribe Know-Nothingism to "mob hysteria" may want to reconsider with this fact in mind.) The Islamic faith does specify that a Muslim's allegiance to Allah trumps any other allegiances, regardless of oaths. It's true that killing a Muslim enemy is not the same as attacking Islam itself; had that been the case, there would be no wars between Muslims. Nevertheless, there is a strain of Islam that deems a Muslim soldier of a non-Muslim country's military to be a bad Muslim if (s)he kills Muslims on the order of an infidel government. Hasan's killing spree was not the first massacre of its kind. Given these facts, there are grounds to question whether or not restrictions need to be put in place vis-à-vis Muslim combatants in the U.S. Army. Muslim soldiers of that strain could be treated as non-combatant conscientious objectors, for example.
As long as this kind of reasoning has the ban placed on it, there will be grounds to think that "diversity" has become counter-productive.
The Liberals' Magic Bullet…
The New Left was right about liberals, in that their magic bullet is co-optation. Standard liberal operating procedure is to see an alien system of beliefs as a mere political plank, subject to log-rolling or Hawthorneing. The ones that aren't, are written off and called bad names. If they are, then they're pegged as "reasonable."
This liberal method explains the paradox of liberal anti-Communists – sincere ones -aiming to enact parts of the Marxist program as an anti-Communist measure. They trusted in co-optation to thin the ranks of the Communists.
Being aware of the danger of encouraging and/or subsidizing hostiles, conservatives are far less willing to trust in co-optation. The New Left found one way to combat said maneuver: escalation of demands whenever one is granted. Rather than mollifying them, liberal co-optation encouraged them to demand more.
The other way is to act "reasonable" but stay inflexible. Some members of the New Left latched onto this one too: it's called "the long march through the institutions." Nowadays, being "reasonable" can mean little more than issuing agreeable rhetoric. It could mean cultivating an ostensibly hypocritical side. As is evident, the Muslims are on the good side of the "reasonable" divide. By liberal standards, they rate special treatment due to perceived victimhood. However, liberals of the Jimmy Carter stripe are clearly treating Islamists as "reasonable," particularly Hamas. It should be remembered that Hasan was examined for mental instability, and was cleared on the grounds that he was unlikely to be violent. Despite his performance deficits, he was good at putting up a "reasonable" front. Intimating that he wasn't the only shooter when he was, as an intimidation tactic to keep himself from being jumped, speaks to his cunning.
It seems only a matter of time before liberals begin a co-optation offensive…which will put many of them in a real pickle. How can sharia law ever be co-opted into liberalism? How can a faith with a profoundly illiberal core be integrated into liberal platforms? How to "satisfy" people who think that the United States is evil because it doesn't criminalize adultery and homosexuality, let alone women wearing skimpy clothes? The Islamist program is so fundamentally at odds with the current liberal program, a lot of today's leading liberals would have to be given the heave-ho for co-optation to work. At the very least, the ACLU and a lot of feminists would have to be thrown under the bus.
Liberals have long relied on method over substance, and "my enemy's enemy is my friend." These two methods of operation have gotten the Islamist camel's nose into the liberal tent. Co-optation will bring it in entirely. Formerly, conservatives have had to bear the brunt of those tactics. For once, though, their use will result in liberals beginning to nibble on each other.
Given this dynamic, it would be highly imprudent for conservatives to play the co-optation game themselves. Doing so with Islamists would just do liberals a huge favor.
Daniel M. Ryan dances with the Grim Reaper.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!