One year ago and some odd days back, the Fort Hood shooting took place. Rather than write a fluff piece concerning the ‘heroes’ that died that day, (there were no heroes, just different types of victims) I’d rather write about the events that led up to the shooting, and how with a little different handling, it would have never happened. So let’s do that then, shall we?
The first thing to realize is that there is nothing all that ground-breaking about Hasan’s shooting spree. Workplace rage shootings happen all the time, and with increasing frequency as years go on. Fort Hood, the site of this particular shooting is located near Killeen Texas, where one of the deadliest shootings in America took place back in ’91. When an unemployed ex-Navy enlistee George Jo Hennard Jr, slammed his truck into a Luby’s and murdered 23 people with a pair of handguns (Hasan also used a pair of handguns during his shooting spree) before killing himself. Killeen held the dubious trophy of worst shooting in America until Virgina Tech student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 33 fellow students. Hasan graduated from Virgina Tech college in 1997, but their common education background isn’t the only thing they have in common. Like Seung-Hui Cho, Hasan was also harassed and bullied by his fellows.
Hasan’s cousin told reporters that after the attack on September 11th, he was regularly bullied and abused by his military comrades. His cousin goes on to state that his resistance to deployment didn’t stem from the bullying, but rather during his experience counseling returning soldiers. Despite Hasan’s efforts to receive a discharge or an exemption from deployment, the army refused to budge as his pleas went unheard. With these previous attempts at trying to get the attention of the army, his other deeds; emailing terrorists, cruising the 7-11 in Al Qaeda garb, delivering lectures on how to treat infidels with boiling oil and beheadings all fall into place as final, desperate attempts to show someone, anyone that he was unfit for service and could not possibly be allowed to deploy.
In the end, he refused to wage war for the Army, and instead waged war on it. But Hasan’s shooting wasn’t unique in that regard either. Fort Hood, the largest military base in the United States is no stranger to its share of violence. Suicides have remained consistently high at Fort Hood, with them hitting record numbers this year. Since the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 75 soldiers have taken their own lives from Fort Hood alone. The number of suicides are triple what the campaign casualties have been since the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2005. Living in Kileen isn’t a walk in the park either, with one of the nation’s lowest median incomes and one of the highest violent crime rates.
The Army’s refusal to compromise in the slightest with Hasan is one of the most ignorant things they could have done. Had they actually budged in their position we wouldn’t be talking about this now, 13 people would still be alive, 30 wouldn’t have bullet holes in them, and Hasan could have lived happily ever after, or at least minus paralysis.
It is interesting that during the first few days of coverage over the shooting at Fort Hood that much was made about the incompetence of military bureaucracy, and suddenly that coverage vanished and the white-washed version cropped up like weeds. The version now majorly espoused by news networks that claims that the Army had no idea what was going on, and air-brushes over Hasan as a terrorist waiting for the Jihad-signal from his evil cave-dwelling masterminds. However, this view simply doesn’t make sense. Hasan’s attempt to reconcile in a hostile environment by any means possible before reaching the level of violence shows that this event is a work-place shooting rather than a terrorist act. In addition to this, his singling out of targets to fire on shows that this was, in fact, a workplace shooting. But the quick and two dimensional version of what happened is easier to swallow.
If you really want to get into it, the ‘official’ explanation makes the Army look damn silly and incompetent. If he was a bona-fide terrorist, then he was the most obvious terrorist I’ve ever seen. You expect me to believe that the very section of our armed forces who is among the most involved in fighting terrorism overseas can’t see a man going on about boiling the heads of infidels and getting in contact with terrorists on their own base and not take notice? If that is the case, if that really was what happened, then Beatle Bailey is a Five star General and the intelligence corps is made up of Inspector Clouseaus. But what’s easier to believe? That one of our most vaunted institutions screwed the pooch and now people are dead? Or that an evil Muslim snapped and yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he fired? As I’ve said before, it’s easier to blame the outliers of society than see a wrong committed by one of our ‘untouchable institutions’.
The only positive thing that can come out of this? That the Army at least admits to itself its shortcomings with Major Hasan, and seeks to prevent another tragedy like this one happening again.