Blood and bigotry: Conservatives attack Obama, scapegoat Muslims, and shamelessly use Fort Hood massacre to score partisan political points
Here's what I tweeted yesterday:
I can't wait for the right's all-out anti-Muslim take on the Fort Hood massacre. You know they'll fit the blame to their biases.
The rush to judgement by conservatives is disgusting. But, then, so is their bigotry. Is it any wonder Muslims question America's motives?
Lesson #1 from Fort Hood? We don't really know a fucking thing yet.
Lesson #2 from Fort Hood? The world can be a crazy, violent place. And sometimes there is appalling bloodshed.
Lesson #3 from Fort Hood? Things are much more complicated than right-wing propaganda and spin would have us believe.
I've spent a good deal of time -- too much time -- going through the conservative reactions to the Fort Hood massace, and it's all pretty much as expected. I just don't have energy to provide a comprehensive round-up, but here are a few of the more appalling examples:
-- Jerome Corsi wrote at WorldNetDaily that Nidal Malik Hasan "played a homeland security advisory role in President Barack Obama's transition into the White House." Actually, he did nothing of the kind, as Jason Linkins explains at HuffPo. Clearly, some on the right are trying to pin this on Obama, or at least to implicate Obama, and the left, in the massacre.
-- Hasan may have seen the war on terror as a war on Islam -- an understandable mistake, I suppose, given how Bush conducted the GWOT -- but that doesn't mean he was a jihadist and that his killing was an act of Islamist terrorism. Conservatives have jumped all over this.
-- Hasan may have shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) before shooting, but that doesn't necessarily make him a jihadist any more than what he seems to have been: a deeply troubled, disturbed, emotionally wounded man who simply cracked. Needless to say, conservatives have also jumped all over this.
-- Allen West, a retired colonel and rising Florida Republican, claims that "the horrible tragedy at Fort Hood is proof the enemy is infiltrating our military": "This enemy preys on downtrodden soldiers and teaches them extremism will lift them up. Our soldiers are being brainwashed." West has no evidence of this, and there is no evidence that Hasan was preyed upon and brainwashed by the "enemy."
-- Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, quoting NPR, reports that Hasan was "disciplined for proselytizing about his Muslim faith with patients and colleagues." Once again, conservatives are making a lot of this, but how is such "proselytizing" any different, or worse, than the aggressive Christian ministries that operate in the military?
Otherwise, other than attacking Obama, conservatives have predictably been lashing out at Muslims generally, as if Hasan was somehow a stand-in for Muslims everywhere. Media Matters:
Right-wing media figures have used the shooting at Fort Hood as an excuse to attack Islam and American Muslims in particular, with Debbie Schlussel, for example, urging readers to think of the alleged shooter "whenever you hear about how Muslims serve their country in the U.S. military." Additionally, commentators have blamed the shooting on "political correctness," with Fox News host Brian Kilmeade suggesting the implementation of "special debriefings" for Muslim American soldiers to prevent future attacks.
The point is not just that conservatives are jumping to conclusions, fitting their attacks to their bigotry and their ideology, but that we still don't know a lot about what happened at Fort Hood, about why Hasan did what he did.
I'm not saying we should ignore what we know, or write the massacre off as an entirely meaningless incident, which would only let the right control the narrative, as Jason Zengerle rightly argues at The Plank, and there may very well be more to this, but rushing to bigoted judgement, calling Hasan a terrorist, and scapegoating Muslims is, while predictable a right-wing response, deeply irresponsible, as is trying to use the massacre to score political points against Obama and the Democrats.
Enough already. We all need to know a lot more about what happened, and why, before assigning blame, if that is even what ought to be done.
For more reaction, see Memeorandum.