I got an email from a journalist friend this morning, about the big news of the day, the massacre at Fort Hood in Texas. Here’s what it said:
“While the mainstream media is busy downplaying the shooter’s religion, just think if an O’Reilly or Goldberg book was found in his home or, God forbid, there was a talk station pre-set on his car radio or he once knew a guy who had a cousin who attended a tea party. There would be endless, mindless speculation and convoluted banner headlines about [how] the evil right-wing is sowing hatred and inspiring death.”
He’s right, of course. A lone gunman kills a late term abortion doctor in Kansas and if you watched liberal television or read liberal papers you’d think Bill O’Reilly pulled the trigger. When Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, liberals blamed conservative talking radio for fomenting an anti-government frenzy. Now we have another catastrophe, but this one is a tad inconvenient for liberals in the media. It turns out the gunman was a Muslim. Uh Oh!
This particular Muslim was a psychiatrist in the United States Army, whose name appears on comments posted on a radical Muslim Web site waxing favorably about suicide bombings; and who allegedly told a friend — as a retired army colonel told Fox News — that, “Muslims had a right to rise up and attack Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.” So, what’s the storyline? Muslim fundamentalism? Try, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
You see the media don’t want to jump to any conclusions in this case, especially when they’re politically incorrect conclusions. But they’d jump to conclusions, wouldn’t they, if a white guy with a crew cut and overalls from the rural south walked into a local NAACP office and shot up the place. They’d conclude the guy was a racist. And they’d almost certainly be right. With the Fort Hood story there was sound reason to suspect the killer’s religion played a part in the massacre, and all we got was drivel about how stressed out soldiers are these days.
Never mind that Major Nidal Malik Hasan had never been deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. His stress, we are asked to believe, came to him second-hand, from the soldiers he counseled when they got home. As the headline in the New York Times put it: “Told of War Horror, Gunman Feared Deployment.”
Newsweek was just as bad. It began a piece about stress and the military with a question. “What if Thursday’s atrocious slaughter at Fort Hood only signals the worst is yet to come?” Why examine the Muslim angle when you can blame the carnage on a couple of wars the media never liked in the first place.
And then there’s the blog by Mimi Swartz, the executive editor of Texas Monthly, who seems to be blaming crummy hotels and restaurants for the massacre. “Killeen is a sea of chain hotels and chain restaurants,” she writes. “The place reflects all too well the state of today’s military, which means the people you see on the streets, almost always dressed in fatigues, are young, poor, uneducated and, invariably, stressed to the max ….”
I guess if Killen had been located in lovely Vail, Colorado Hasan would never have done what he did.
But what about that pesky religious angle? According to CNN, Major Hasan had shared some thoughts about being a Muslim in the army with a convenience store clerk he knew. “But as a fellow Muslim and someone of faith, he had a problem with having, perhaps, the opportunity in the future to have to shoot or kill or injure or fight fellow Muslims,” the clerk told a reporter. “And that is something that was weighing heavily on him. “
So, if it turns out that the motive behind the massacre had more to do with Hasan’s religion than his stress, the media once again will look foolish – and worse, untrustworthy. Political correctness is a virus running through our culture. And it is killing American journalism.