Troubling Coverage of the Fort Hood Shootings

  • #1
russ_watters
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I'm disturbed by what I am seeing in some media's coverage of the Fort Hood shootings. It seems to me that some media outlets that lean left are downplaying or ignoring the possibility - probability - that this incident was religious motivated terrorism.

In searching for motivation, Newsweek has a prominently displayed article suggesting the stress of being in the military may have motivated the killing:
"Is Fort Hood a Harbinger? Nidal Malik Hasan May Be a Symptom of a Military on the Brink"[title]

What if Thursday's atrocious slaughter at Fort Hood only signals that the worst is yet to come? The murder scene Thursday afternoon at the Killeen, Texas, military base, the largest in the country, was heart-wrenching. Details remained murky, but at least 13 are dead and 30 wounded in a killing spree that may momentarily remind us of a reality that most Americans can readily forget: soldiers and their families are living, and bending, under a harrowing and unrelenting stress that will not let up any time soon. And the U.S. military could well be reaching a breaking point as the president decides to send more troops into Afghanistan.
http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thehumancondition/archive/2009/11/06/is-fort-hood-a-harbinger-nidal-malik-hasan-may-be-a-symptom-of-a-military-on-the-brink.aspx [Broken]

CNN recently put up an article playing a similar angle:
The impact of trauma on those who help the traumatized has become a subject of discussion as investigators try to piece together why Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, an Army psychiatrist at Darnall Army Medical Center, allegedly opened fire at a military processing center Thursday at Fort Hood Army Post in Texas, killing 13 people and wounding 30 others.
http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/11/06/military.psychiatrists.fort.hood/index.html

USA Today's main article is better, but what I consider to be a key piece of information is buried 2/3 of the way down on the page:
Hasan had come to the attention of federal law enforcement officials at least six months ago because of Internet postings that discussed suicide bombings and other threats, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

The official said investigators were trying to confirm that Hasan was the author of the postings, one of which was a blog that equates suicide bombers with a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades. One of the officials said federal search warrants were being drawn up to authorize seizure of Hasan's computer.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-11-05-Fort-Hood_N.htm

Obama said we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Yes, we live in an "innocent until proven guilty" society and that is a very safe, if useless thing to say (or maybe he's overlearned from his experience with the "stupid" cop comment?). We have very strong indications that this was an act of Islamic extremist terrorism and yet news organizations are speculating more prominently about some vicarious PTSD?! WHY? Why is the story being spun this way?
 
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  • #2
russ_watters
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Much better, CBS posted an article late this afternoon (4:20, judging by the timing of the first comments that specifically explores the Islamic extremism angle (oh - its an AP article):
A classmate of the Fort Hood shooting suspect says Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was an outspoken opponent of the U.S. war on terror and called it a "war against Islam."
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/06/national/main5553466.shtml?tag=stack

This pushed me to see what Fox News has to say. Fox news comes right out and says the likely motive:
The Army wouldn't discuss a motive, but initial reports suggested that the suspect, 39-year-old Nidal Malik Hasan, was dreading his imminent deployment to Afghanistan and had been critical of the wars there and in Iraq.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,572571,00.html

Notice the difference: One article mentions his issues but doesn't specifically link them to the shootings, the other comes out and explicitly connects them.
 
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  • #3
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Obama said we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Yes, we live in an "innocent until proven guilty" society and that is a very safe, if useless thing to say. We have very strong indications that this was an act of Islamic extremist terrorism and yet news organizations are speculating more prominently about some vicarious PTSD?! WHY? Why is the story being spun this way?

it's not being "spun" that way. at this point nobody knows what his motive was
 
  • #4
russ_watters
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Here's a good commentary that reflects my feelings on the matter:
On Thursday afternoon, a radicalized Muslim US Army officer shouting "Allahu Akbar!" committed the worst act of terror on American soil since 9/11. And no one wants to call it an act of terror or associate it with Islam.

What cowards we are. Political correctness killed those patriotic Americans at Ft. Hood as surely as the Islamist gunman did. And the media treat it like a case of non-denominational shoplifting.

This was a terrorist act.
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/fort_hood_xjP9yGrJN7gl7zdsJ31vnJ
 
  • #5
russ_watters
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it's not being "spun" that way.
The article is exploring the possibility that it was some vicarious PTSD and not exploring the possibility that it was terrorism. I'd like to know why they are exploring one possibility but not exploring the other.

[edit: and please note: the possibility that it was vicarious PTSD is currently the cover story on CNN.com]
at this point nobody knows what his motive was
Uh huh..... so your powers of critical thinking don't lead you in any particular direction?

We're not in kindergarden. Thinking people can look at evidence and form opinions.
 
  • #6
mheslep
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Couple of good posts Russ.

After the Ft Hood the incident resulting in 13 non-muslims dead, 0 muslims dead, the BBC comes out with this headline:
"http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8347586.stm" [Broken]"

I note after the Tube bombing one wag wrote this appropriate http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NzA2Y2E2MDU2YjQzOTQwZjUzNjcwZDA0OTE3YmFkYzg=" [Broken]of the BBC:
“British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.”
which they well deserved.
 
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  • #7
mheslep
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... and yet news organizations are speculating more prominently about some vicarious PTSD?! ...
Per all the news sources, Hasan never served a day anywhere near a combat zone, so any PTSD on his part is a red herring.
 
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  • #8
Pengwuino
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Per all the news sources, Malik never served a day anywhere near a combat zone, so any PTSD on his part is a red herring.

From what I heard on one of the coverages, someone claimed that there's a such thing as secondary PTSD, where someone who counsels people going through PTSD somehow also gain PTSD. Not sure the details, I wasn't paying to omuch attention unfortunately.
 
  • #9
lisab
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An engineer just shot up his former work place in Orlando, Florida. OMG! What's his religion?

That's a ridiculous question, isn't it? It hasn't been addressed by the media...well, he must not be Muslim.

Chill out about Nidal Hasan's religion. The guy clearly had mental illness. He was born in the Virginia, a graduate of Virginia Tech. He is *American*...most likely, he is simply a mentally ill American.

Mentally ill people often use religion as a scaffold for their illness...how many people in mental institutions identify themselves as Jesus?
 
  • #10
russ_watters
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Couple of good posts Russ.

After the Ft Hood the incident resulting in 13 non-muslims dead, 0 muslims dead, the BBC comes out with this headline:
"http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8347586.stm" [Broken]"

I note after the Tube bombing one wag wrote this appropriate http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NzA2Y2E2MDU2YjQzOTQwZjUzNjcwZDA0OTE3YmFkYzg=" [Broken]of the BBC:
“British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.”
which they well deserved.
Yes, a similar angle is currently being played by CNN and USA Today.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-11-06-muslim-image-campaigns_N.htm
http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/11/05/muslims.fort.hood/index.html

It gets even worse: now the headline on CNN.com is "Family: Ft. Hood Suspect Faced Taunts" http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/11/06/fort.hood.suspect.muslim/index.html

The vicarious PTSD is looking for excuses - this is blameshifting.
 
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  • #11
russ_watters
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An engineer just shot up his former work place in Orlando, Florida. OMG! What's his religion?

That's a ridiculous question, isn't it? It hasn't been addressed by the media...well, he must not be Muslim.
Exactly! In that case, religion clearly has nothing to do with the crime: he was a disgruntled ex-employee.

In the Ft. Hood case, religion clearly did have something to do with the crime.

If a woman named "Shannon" shot up an abortion clinic, would you have any doubt what her religion was or that she was motivated by it?
Chill out about Nidal Hasan's religion. The guy clearly had mental illness. He was born in the Virginia, a graduate of Virginia Tech. [snip]most likely, he is simply a mentally ill American.

Mentally ill people often use religion as a scaffold for their illness...how many people in mental institutions identify themselves as Jesus?
It may well be that all Islamic terrorists are by definition mentally ill, but why does that mean we shouldn't talk about the issue? It is important!

...and he didn't identify himself as Mohammed. That's a false comparison.
He is *American*...
Were you aware that his parents were Palestinian immigrants and he has labeled himself as "Palestinian"?
On a form filled out by those seeking spouses through a program at the mosque, Hasan listed his birthplace as Arlington, Va., but his nationality as Palestinian, Khan said.

"I don't know why he listed Palestinian," Khan said, "He was not born in Palestine."
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,572509,00.html
 
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  • #12
mheslep
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An engineer just shot up his former work place in Orlando, Florida. OMG! What's his religion?
Well I'd be totally uninterested in his religion, unless it was reported that he shouted http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,572448,00.html" even though he was born in the US.

That's a ridiculous question, isn't it? It hasn't been addressed by the media...well, he must not be Muslim.

Chill out about Nidal Hasan's religion. The guy clearly had mental illness. He was born in the Virginia, a graduate of Virginia Tech. He is *American*...most likely, he is simply a mentally ill American.

Mentally ill people often use religion as a scaffold for their illness...how many people in mental institutions identify themselves as Jesus?
You assess Hasan is mentally ill on what basis? Is Bin Laden mentally ill? The 9/11 hijackers? All members of Al Qaeda? How about the Ku Klux Klan who draped themselves in religion? Do we Chill Out on them too?
 
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  • #13
lisab
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Exactly! In that case, religion clearly has nothing to do with the crime: he was a disgruntled ex-employee.

In the Ft. Hood case, religion clearly did have something to do with the crime.

If a woman named "Shannon" shot up an abortion clinic, would you have any doubt what her religion was or that she was motivated by it? It may well be that all Islamic terrorists are by definition mentally ill, but why does that mean we shouldn't talk about the issue? It is important!

...and he didn't identify himself as Mohammed. That's a false comparison. Were you aware that his parents were Palestinian immigrants and he has labeled himself as "Palestinian"? [URL]http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,572509,

00.html[/url]

Actually, as an atheist, I totally agree with you that using religion as a motivation for any hostile or irrational act is insanity, whether it's "Shannon" or "Nidal" doing the deed.

So we agree that religiously motivated actions, when violent, are basically insane. But religious conservatives aren't castigated as a group every time an abortionist is shot.

I guess when you're in a group that is thinking groupthink, everyone else in the group looks perfectly sane.
 
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  • #14
Choronzon
But religious conservatives aren't castigated as a group every time an abortionist is shot.

Yes they are. Hasn't there been threads on this very board blaming FoxNews and O'Reilly for Tiller's murder?
 
  • #15
lisab
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Yes they are. Hasn't there been threads on this very board blaming FoxNews and O'Reilly for Tiller's murder?

Complete nonsense. Conservative church goers felt no reason to hold their heads down or apologize the last time an abortionist was shot.

And in fact, they shouldn't, frankly. The nut case who shot Tiller was insane, and those who hold the same religious views that he did should not have any responsibility for his actions.

Do you think Muslims should shoulder responsibility for the actions of one of their fellow believers who does some insane act?
 
  • #16
mheslep
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Complete nonsense. Conservative church goers felt no reason to hold their heads down or apologize the last time an abortionist was shot.

And in fact, they shouldn't, frankly. The nut case who shot Tiller was insane, and those who hold the same religious views that he did should not have any responsibility for his actions.

Do you think Muslims should shoulder responsibility for the actions of one of their fellow believers who does some insane act?
At least radical, restore the caliphate, Islamists, should take responsibility.
 
  • #17
Moonbear
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While we don't really know his motives yet, I am very annoyed at the news channels that seem to be trying to dismiss his actions as somehow explainable because he was called names...yeesh...he's a psychiatrist, he should know how to handle stuff like that.

I've even seen some people trying to blame it on a stigma in the military about mental illness hindering him from being treated for some underlying problem. Again, he is a psychiatrist...I think he would have known about available mental health treatment and not been worried about a stigma...or else maybe that was why he was getting lousy performance evaluations!

Whether he was a terrorist or just a run-of-the-mill mass murderer, I don't particularly care, as long as his punishment fits; I don't see a lot of difference in what sort of punishment should follow either one of those.
 
  • #18
mheslep
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While we don't really know his motives yet, I am very annoyed at the news channels that seem to be trying to dismiss his actions as somehow explainable because he was called names...yeesh...he's a psychiatrist, he should know how to handle stuff like that.
Yes I saw those reports, but I'm skeptical. The guy was an officer, a major, and a doctor. That leaves a very small fraction of the military that could get away with harassing him.
 
  • #19
lisab
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While we don't really know his motives yet, I am very annoyed at the news channels that seem to be trying to dismiss his actions as somehow explainable because he was called names...yeesh...he's a psychiatrist, he should know how to handle stuff like that.

I don't agree with this. Asking a mentally ill person to correctly diagnose themselves as mentally ill is futile, even if they are trained in psychiatry.
 
  • #20
Choronzon
Complete nonsense. Conservative church goers felt no reason to hold their heads down or apologize the last time an abortionist was shot.

And in fact, they shouldn't, frankly. The nut case who shot Tiller was insane, and those who hold the same religious views that he did should not have any responsibility for his actions.

Do you think Muslims should shoulder responsibility for the actions of one of their fellow believers who does some insane act?

All muslims? No.

One of my class mates who knew I had served in the military asked me If I would feel put upon inviting a devout muslim into my home, and I told him it depended on what they meant by "devout muslim." If it means the same thing as most peoples religions do—that it's a vague spiritual tradition that is mainly followed because it promises paradise and people think it teaches morality—then I would have no problem being the best of friends with a devout muslim.

But if it means that they believe we should all live under sharia law and that my daughter's place is behind a Hijab, then I can only feel contempt for that person.

I don't excuse peoples abhorrent beliefs just because they found them in a holy book.

Honestly though, I do find it distasteful that the within minutes of the events we hear voices across America complaining about the possibilities of retaliations against muslims. When I hear about a woman getting harmed by a man, my first reaction is sympathy for the victim—not angst over whether it paints my gender in a bad light. We even had the murderer's cousin on the news trying to engender sympathy for the guy—he went so far as to call him a loyal American—as if the fact that he ha slaughtered a dozen unarmed soldiers doesn't disprove that assertion.

As for the Tiller thing, do you really think that Pro-Life conservatives weren't expected to cut back the rhetoric after the murder? I recall all sorts of blame being tossed around at everyone who ever called Tiller a monster.
 
  • #21
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I'm disturbed by what I am seeing in some media's coverage of the Fort Hood shootings. It seems to me that some media outlets that lean left are downplaying or ignoring the possibility - probability - that this incident was religious motivated terrorism.

In searching for motivation, Newsweek has a prominently displayed article suggesting the stress of being in the military may have motivated the killing: http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thehumancondition/archive/2009/11/06/is-fort-hood-a-harbinger-nidal-malik-hasan-may-be-a-symptom-of-a-military-on-the-brink.aspx [Broken]

CNN recently put up an article playing a similar angle: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/11/06/military.psychiatrists.fort.hood/index.html

USA Today's main article is better, but what I consider to be a key piece of information is buried 2/3 of the way down on the page: http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-11-05-Fort-Hood_N.htm

Obama said we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Yes, we live in an "innocent until proven guilty" society and that is a very safe, if useless thing to say (or maybe he's overlearned from his experience with the "stupid" cop comment?). We have very strong indications that this was an act of Islamic extremist terrorism and yet news organizations are speculating more prominently about some vicarious PTSD?! WHY? Why is the story being spun this way?

So, what we gain by making it look like a religious act?

Other than religious/anti-religious (liberal/conservative) mudslinging, I don't see any real purpose of this thread.
 
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  • #22
Choronzon
Yes I saw those reports, but I'm skeptical. The guy was an officer, a major, and a doctor. That leaves a very small fraction of the military that could get away with harassing him.

If you check out the list of victims, you'll notice none of them are his peers. You would think if he was being "bullied", he would have attacked those that did the bullying.
 
  • #23
So, what we gain by making it look like a religious act?

Other than religious/anti-religious (liberal/conservative) mudslinging, I don't see any real purpose of this thread.

Its not about making it look like a religious act. It is about investigating this as a motive. Apparently Hasan multiple times made mention of his respect and admiration for extremists of a certain ethnic and religious background even above his own colleagues whom these extremists are targeting for death on a daily basis.

So the question is: How is it that a man in the military who shows moral support for those that attack and kill his associates was allowed to continue on to the point where he himself killed his associates in a similar manner?

There was an army engineer not that long ago that "snapped" and killed several of his associates on a military base in Iraq and then himself. That incident was also chalked up to PTSD even though he was not a combat soldier and the 'explanation' did not make much sense. It seems like there is a desire to close these cases as quickly as possible without much public investigation into motive and questioning as to why the colleagues of these men did not see it coming. I'd imagine that it is likely easier to blame a relatively unpredictable illness that tends to happen to soldiers than to publicly accept that the military may be liable for not paying close enough attention.

Personally, if I worked at an abortion clinic and one of my coworkers expressed respect and admiration for abortion clinic bombers I would report it in a heart beat and be really worried if my superiors did not seem to be taking much action.

Or how about working with a person who expresses agreement with neonazis and the KKK? If a police officer were to fit such a description (or maybe a judge *nudgenudgewinkwink*) would you be asking what we gain by investigating their actions as possibly being motivated by racism?
 
  • #24
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More neutrally, my two cents. It appears that there are people who can be influenced to become emotionally so unbalanced that they empty guns on random individuals. There may be a lot of different motives, from impressing a deity and earn a nirvana with vigins to the ultimate act of dispair maybe in combination with the wish to draw attention. We had such an attack on last Queensday. The motive is unclear. But it is known that the man's 'world' had collapsed.

The question seems to be if the treshold for the dispair act is different from the nirvana seekers. In the latter case, as Lisab hinted, the tendency to groupthink is important, especially when it accumulates to extreme forms of groupshift, which looks more or less identical to extremism, and which can be seen anywhere, not only in religion.
 
  • #25
russ_watters
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But religious conservatives aren't castigated as a group every time an abortionist is shot.

I guess when you're in a group that is thinking groupthink, everyone else in the group looks perfectly sane.

[separate post]
Complete nonsense. Conservative church goers felt no reason to hold their heads down or apologize the last time an abortionist was shot.

And in fact, they shouldn't, frankly. The nut case who shot Tiller was insane, and those who hold the same religious views that he did should not have any responsibility for his actions.

Do you think Muslims should shoulder responsibility for the actions of one of their fellow believers who does some insane act?
Lisa, you are dragging the thread off topic. I have not suggested that other members of a certain religion do or should shoulder blame for the crimes committed in the name of that religion by one of their members.

All I am pointing out here is that when investigating what is going on inside the shooters head - sane or not - some major news outlets are speculating about one motive for which there is no evidence while completely ignoring another motive for which there is evidence.

How will the media react if he lives and is charged with terrorism? Will they start discussing the issue then?

Also, it is fine that you think essentially all murderers are insane, but our legal system does not work that way.
 
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