The right-wingers were out in force yesterday in their attempt to paint the Fort Hood shootings as an act of radical Islamist jihadi terrorism, and claiming that "political correctness" kept the military from screening him as a threat -- evidently simply because he was Muslim.
Kicking things off bright and early on that front were the gang at Fox Friends, especially Brian Kilmeade and Gretchen Carlson. Kilmeade asked Geraldo Rivera early on the show:
Kilmeade: Do you think it’s time for the military to have special debriefings of Muslim Army officers — anybody enlisted? Because if I'm going to be in a foxhole, if I'm gonna be stuck in an outpost, I've gotta know the guy next to me is not gonna wanna kill me.
Actually, Brian, they wouldn't have to be Muslim, or anything else, to want that -- especially, one suspects, after more than an hour in close proximity to your charming personality.
Then Carlson chimed in:
Carlson: I want to ask this question another way. Could it be that the military, because our society -- let's face it, our society has become very politically correct -- could it be that the military was also exercising political correctness, even though he had a poor performance report, and even though he spoke openly about being a radical Muslim, and had those supposed postings online, could it be that the military was exercising political correctness in not approaching him as seriously as they would have had he not been a Muslim?
Rivera answers "Yes," of course, but the answer is actually, "Political correctness has nothing to do with it." After all, the Army allows neo-Nazis within its ranks to post online and does not treat them as a particular threat -- even though they pose a variety of problems, not the least of which is that they tend to become violent themselves. If the military is practicing "political correctness," it's a peculiar kind.
Moreover, as Spencer Ackerman put it, this is a spectacularly short-sighted bit of bigotry.
But this is the way it goes. We were told by Fox News that to blame right-wingers for the actions of George Tiller’s murderer or the anti-Semite who shot up the Holocaust Museum was out of line. But Muslim soldiers — people who guard the freedoms that Fox bleats about with jingoistic sanctimony — are to be slandered by association. This is a disgrace to the memories of Spc. Kareem R. Khan, Capt. Humayun Saqib Khan, and so many others who have given their lives for this country.
David Frum, notably, chimes in with a provocative reminder for the jingoes.
That was only the beginning. These same notes were repeated throughout the day. Ackerman also noticed Allen West, a former Army lieutenant colonel "promoted by the National Republican Congressional Committee," quoted in The Hill:
"This enemy preys on downtrodden soldiers and teaches them extremism will lift them up,” West said in a statement. “Our soldiers are being brainwashed.”
The release added that West claims “the horrible tragedy at Fort Hood is proof the enemy is infiltrating our military.”
Then there was Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey:
Retired 4-Star General Barry McCaffrey, who attended a fundraiser Thursdays night in Rochester for the Veterans Outreach Center, believes today's shooting could turn out to be an act of terrorism. “This is going to turn out to be a political act. People who are frightened of deployment don't murder their fellow soldiers. This was completely out of the ordinary, we've never seen anything like this. We have murders periodically in the armed forces, but it's somebody 20 years old, drunk, it's two o’clock in the morning, it's drugs, it's girls, it's cards its something so this was planned mass murder.”
Interestingly, later that morning on Fox and Friends, Kilmeade interviewed two real experts -- Dr. Paul Ragan, a former Navy psychiatrist, and Pat Brown, a professional criminal profiler -- who basically tried to explain that he was full of crap when he tried to paint the event as an act of Islamic jihad.
Kilmeade: It seems to me, Pat, religion plays a role. He perhaps was on a different mission.
Brown: Well, Brian, actually, I think religion does not play a role in this. What we're actually looking at is a typical mass murderer.
Mass murderers are either two age groups. They are either teenagers, who are disgruntled with where they are in life, and don't think they're going to be anything -- those teenagers that say 'I'm being bullied and nobody likes me, and so let me take everybody out -- or they're middle-aged men who are going downhill in life -- they're having problems with people, personality issues, you know, going up against authority. For whatever reasons, they're failing, and then when they start failing they have to find something to hang their hat on, they have to blame something.
So he happened to pick what he picked. But I don't think it really has anything to do with him being Muslim or any kind of "jihad." I think he just wanted to kill people and this was his excuse.
Kilmeade: Well, he did yell out, "Allah," that's kind of an odd thing to yell out for somebody who was just unhappy with his success in life.
Brown: But he was already going downhill. He's a psychopath, and that -- he's gonna say something.
Ragan went on to back up Brown's assessment. Kilmeade just didn't want to hear it.
Nobody on the right does. Because it's so much easier to bash Muslims when you have great cover like this, and the folks on the right aren't going to let it go to waste.