Andrea Elliott’s front page article in the November 9 New York Times played up the thousands of Muslims in the U.S. military and how their “service...is more necessary and more complicated than ever before,” but gave the false impression that a Medal of Honor recipient named near the end of her piece was a Muslim himself, when he was actually Catholic.
Elliott spent much of her article, “Complications Grow for Muslims Serving in the U.S. Military” (which appeared above the fold on the front page of the print edition of the Times), detailing the concerns of “many Muslim soldiers and their commanders...[who] fear that the relationship between the military and its Muslim service members will only grow more difficult” after Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood on November 5. She later noted that “[w]hatever his possible motives, the emerging portrait of Major Hasan’s life in the military casts light on some of the struggles and frustrations felt by other Muslims in the services.”
Near the end of the article, Elliott changed the subject ever so slightly that it might have gone unnoticed. The reporter quoted Captain Erich Rahman, an Iraq war veteran and Bronze Star winner: “Too many Americans overlook the heroic efforts of Arab-Americans in uniform, said Capt. Eric Rahman...He cited the example of Lieutenant Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy Seal who was awarded the Medal of Honor after pulling a team member to safety during firefight in 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq. Lieutenant Monsoor died saving another American, yet he will never be remembered like Major Hasan, said Captain Rahman. Regardless, he said, Muslim- and Arab-Americans are crucial to the military’s success in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
On Thursday evening, NBC Nightly News was again the first broadcast network evening newscast to highlight a Medal of Honor recipient -- only the third given for heroic action in Iraq, and the first to a sailor in that theater -- Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor. Williams observed:
This nation has a new Medal of Honor recipient, though he is not alive to accept the honor. Michael Monsoor was a U.S. Navy SEAL. He died in Ramadi in 2006 when he absorbed the blast of a grenade to save his entire unit. His commanding officer and his sister spoke today about the him and the nation's highest military honor.
Monsoor's platoon commander hailed his bravery: “He was a hero more than once and if I could cite every time he did a heroic action, he would have 35 or 50 medals to wear.”