Why Henninger is wrong about Ft. Hood

Daniel Henninger at the Wall Street Journal has an interesting theory as to why the Fort Hood massacre occurred. Democrats’ ceaseless attack on the Bush anti-terrorism surveillance and security measures over the last eight years, he writes, made FBI and intelligence people gun shy of surveilling Nidal Hassan:

The combatants at each end of the spectrum in the war over the war on terror know exactly what they think about surveilling suspected terrorists. But if you are an intel officer or FBI agent tasked with providing the protection, what are you supposed to make of all this bitter public argument? What you make of it is that when you get a judgment call, like Maj. Hasan, you hesitate. You blink.

While Henninger’s point about the surveillance controversy and its demoralizing effect on the anti-intelligence community may be correct, his argument nevertheless fails, for this reason. He’s only dealing with the surveillance side of the issue: the fact that FBI or other intelligence entities discontinued their surveillance on phone calls and e-mail between Nidal Hasan and the terror supporting imam in Yemen. He is ignoring the Army side of the issue: the fact that people in the Army already had more than enough information about Hasan to commence procedures aimed at removing him from the Army, and they ignored it, not out of being gun-shy of surveillance measures, but out of fear of being seen as discriminatory against Muslims. Even if Henninger’s argument on the reasons for the discontinuance of the surveillance were correct, it wouldn’t explain why the Army did nothing about Hassan.

Furthermore, unlike with the surveillance issue, the fear of being discriminatory against Muslims is not something that can be blamed solely on the left. The entire country, left and right, is committed to a universalist ideology that requires us to avoid discrimination against non-Western and nonwhite groups. What if the truth about Islam as shown in the case of Hasan and many similar cases led to the conclusion that Muslims should not be in the military? What if it led to the conclusion that Muslim immigration into the U.S. should be halted and that all Muslim non-citizens who had shown any support for sharia should lose their residency privileges? Would Henninger support that? Of course not. Because Henninger—just as much as the left—thinks that broad discrimination against Muslims as a group would be immoral and anti-American. Henninger imagines that surveillance measures alone can stop Islamic subversion in America. In reality, stopping Islamic subversion in America would require us to reject the belief that America is a universalist country that can fully absorb people of every culture and religion. As long as we hold to that belief, we will continue to close our eyes to any facts that contradict it. We will, just as the Army did in the case of Hasan, ignore and suppress any information suggesting that devout Muslims are required by their religion to support jihad war against us. We will continue to blind ourselves to the truth that Islam itself is the problem.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 13, 2009 11:44 AM | Send

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