Friday, November 6, 2009

Why He Killed

Profound evil is ultimately a mystery.

Nevertheless, as news coverage burgeons around Nidal Malik Hasan, some causes emerge.

1) He was a troubled man, lonely and crazy.

2) A Muslim whose parents had emigrated from Palestine, he was deeply affected by the horrors of his era: the 9/11 attacks, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the US bombing of Iraq and invasion of Afghanistan, the soldiers' trauma he listened to in his work as a psychiatrist, and the harassment he and other Muslims face in the US.

"Fellow soldiers once handed him a diaper and told him to wear it around his head, the uncle said; another time they sketched a camel on a piece of paper and left it on his car with a note that said, 'Here's your ride.' ",0,1886826.story

3) Against his will, this vulnerable man was being deployed to Afghanistan, the churning core of the maelstrom. His request to leave military service was denied.

Those three factors alone would not have caused this tragedy.

The final push apparently came from radical Muslims who found a floundering man and used him for their jihad. He learned from them that honor and service lay in becoming a suicide shooter.

"We're commanded to terrorize unbelievers," explained Younes Abdullas Mohammad on The Anderson Cooper Show, Nov. 6. "The Qur'an says very clearly, 'Kor hibuna'--'Terrorize them.'"

A man in Muslim dress visited Hasan the day before the killings, and he is reported to have shouted "Allahu akbar"--God is great--as he began shooting.

For a moment, let's imagine (with John Lennon):

* a world in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had been resolved;
* a nation that had followed up the 9/11 attacks by increased vigilance at ports and airports--but not by bombing Iraq and Afghanistan;
* a military in which a soldier's request to leave active duty for personal reasons was granted.
* an educational system that stressed learning other languages and respecting other cultures.

Instead, we have a world filled with the oppression of one religious group by another, a nation bent on vengeance, a military that trains young people to kill, and schools that largely ignore the cultures beyond US borders.

The question should not be, "Why did he kill?" but "How many deaths will it take 'til we know that too many people have died?"

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."
--Albert Einstein

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