On Nov. 18, Foreign Policy's Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson wrote an article titled "The Real Shock of Fort Hood." If you thought that the shock of Fort Hood was that an Army Major fired over 100 rounds into a crowded processing center on a military base - killing 13 and wounding 29 - you're wrong. "It's not that the massacre occurred," said the article. "It's that it hadn't occurred before."
According to Simon and Stevenson, Major Nidal Malik Hasan was simply another American Muslim that was the victim of "innumerable stresses, including discrimination and the strain of divided loyalties in their country's eight-year-long war against Muslims in the Middle East and Central Asia."
The authors argued that such circumstances would be "enough to inspire conflict in the minds of even the most patriotic of American Muslims in the U.S." So much so that it should be "no surprise" that "one unstable member of this community finally erupted in violence."
It's our fault. Americans aren't making Muslims "comfortable." And the article specifically cited "Christian right-wing rhetoric" as a catalyst in the "Muslim alienation" which led to Hasan's shooting spree.
"Since Sept. 11, Muslims have faced increasing racism, employment and housing discrimination, and vandalism," wrote Simon and Stevenson. "Media coverage dwelling on the violence associated with radical Islam and ignoring the respectable lifestyles of most American Muslims, along with Christian right-wing rhetoric casting the campaign against terrorism as a clash of religions, has contributed to the public's misunderstanding of Islam."
The article applauded the general Muslim population in America for rising above the fray and rejecting "violent protest or reaction," despite the refusal of Americans to open welcoming arms. They warned, though, that if Americans don't learn how to play nice, Muslims may not be able to stand it much longer.
"The Fort Hood massacre arguably showed that the continued civility of the Muslim population against undeniable pressures cannot be taken for granted," they said.
In order to avoid pressuring another Muslim into attacking America, we need to "resist the paranoia to which [the Fort Hood] tragedy could potentially lead." The authors also felt compelled to warn the President of the United States.
"Barack Obama should use his bully pulpit to fight for the better treatment and monitoring of vulnerable Muslim service-members, to avoid another tragedy," they said.
They even suggested that Obama offer a second speech, after his Fort Hood eulogy, to emphasize that "Fort Hood was an anomaly and that the very rareness of such incidents illuminates the overall loyalty of American Muslims and the need to protect that population."
But that's still not enough. According to the article, we also need policy changes.
"Soldiers cannot be expected to function well in the service of their country for a cause that they oppose," Steven and Simonson said.
Those policy changes included instituting better "interagency early-warning mechanisms" to detect such internal conflicts before soldiers become "alienated from their country." They also claimed that Hasan's violence was "partly driven by the taunts of fellow soldiers." Since Muslims in the military are "extraordinarily sensitive," the military needs to "to redouble efforts to enforce antidiscrimination standards."
If you thought that the legacy of the Fort Hood massacre was remembering the courageous men and women that protect our country, you're wrong. According to Simon and Stevenson, the Fort Hood massacre should instill in Americans a "greater commitment to ensuring, through accommodation of political and religious sensitivity and equality of treatment, that American Muslims don't suffer for their loyalty to their country."
Correction: The earlier incorrectly identified the article as a Newsweek article. It was a Foreign Policy magazine article, although it was posted on Newsweek.com.