Yesterday was one of the most tragic days in the military, in the midst of a slew of tragic days as we continue to see casualties in Afghanistan. Innocent soldiers lost their lives, and many more were injured, at the hands of a very troubled Major at Ft. Hood. Our hearts go out to all those who lost their lives, their families, and those wounded.
Like many, I'm angry and confused, as well, at how this could possibly happen. But, until the facts are all known, I won't jump to conclusions, or cast aspersions at a large group of Americans, like the disgraceful hosts of FOX and Friends.
During an interview with Geraldo Rivera, the FOX and Friends hosts twice implied that this is some kind of Muslim problem. Of course, they didn't come out and say it outright, they couched it in the form of a question, like FOX News can be so good at. You know, like their teasers, "President Obama. Does He Hate America?"
Brian Kilmeade asked if it's time to have "special debriefings" or "special screenings" of all Muslims in the military. Because, as he said, "If I'm gonna be deployed in a foxhole, if I'm gonna be deployed in an outpost, I'm gonna want to know that the guy next to me isn't gonna want to kill me."
Perhaps sensing that they were not being offensive enough, Gretchen Carlson chimed in, "Could it be that our own military is so politically correct right now...to be careful about treatment of Muslims that they would have allowed this to go by?"
There are thousands and thousands of American Muslims serving America in the military right now, and many have given their lives. I still get chills remembering Colin Powell recounting the photo of a grieving mother at the grave of her son at Arlington - a grave topped with the crescent symbolizing Islam.
Another honorable veteran is VoteVets.org member Ashkan Bayatpour. Ashkan served in Iraq with the Navy from Nov 2005-Apr 2006, having joined after September 11. He's gone on to help his fellow veterans as the head of the Campus Veterans Association at the University of Alabama. He also was awarded a Humanitarian Service Medal for his work in Mississippi after Katrina.
Here's the thing. Ashkan is a Muslim. His parents are from Iran. He's just the kind of person FOX and Friends would single out for a "special screening," and if we didn't it was because we're too "politically correct." Nevermind the fact that Ashkan never showed any problems during his service, never mouthed off about not wanting to go to war in Iraq, or fighting other Muslims. Nope, he's Muslim and should get singled out, says FOX and Friends.
"First thing I would say is that the reason I chose to join the military was because I've been to the middle east, I've been to Iran and I've see in the oppressive regimes over there," Ashkan told me. "So, the notion that I would automatically be hostile to the US because of my ethnic or religious background is not only insulting, it's a slap in the face."
"What people need to understand is that good and bad people exist everywhere. To assume just because of someone's ethnic or religious background they would be capable of such horrible acts is ignorant and counters the message of America," he added.
I'd add that it was a white man who shot up Camp Liberty. It was a couple of neo-Nazis at Ft. Bragg who killed a black couple near base in 1995, and another who tried to illegally sell military equipment to an undercover FBI agent he believed to be a part of the white supremacist movement, in 1997.
Perhaps Kilmeade and Carlson think it's about time to have "special screenings" for all white men in the military, to make sure they won't go and kill minorities?
Of course not. The military doesn't need to do a better job at monitoring people of faith or race, it has to do a better job of monitoring those, of any faith or no faith and any race, that might be sick, twisted, or evil enough to kill fellow troops. As the facts all come out, we'll get a better understanding of what was missed by the military that may have helped them stop Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan before he could undertake his tragic killings.
But for now, trying to blame this on his religion isn't just offensive to the thousands of Muslims who fight to defend people of all faiths in this great nation, but is the height of media malpractice. Kilmeade and Carlson should apologize to all servicemembers, especially those Muslims fighting everyday to protect America.
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