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Fort Hood tragedy seen through personal political lenses

Was alleged Fort Hood attacker Nidal Malik Hasan a ‘radical Muslim terrorist,’ or had he been experiencing ‘Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder’?

By Staff writer / November 7, 2009

A flag flies at half-staff to honor Fort Hood victims at a military base in Afghanistan.

David Guttenfelder/AP

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The tragic shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, shouldn’t have a political dimension to it. Yet within hours it was being portrayed that way.

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From one side, the alleged shooter -- Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist -- is a victim of "Pre-traumatic Stress Disorder" who flipped out because as a doctor treating combat veterans he had to deal with the horrors of an unjust war. From the other side, he’s a Muslim terrorist, an Arab (though born in the United States) plotting and carrying out his own murderous jihad.

In his radio address Saturday, President Obama urged Americans to see beyond the ethnicity of the alleged attacker. Speaking of those serving in the US military, he said:

“They are descendants of immigrants, and immigrants themselves. They reflect the diversity that makes this America. But what they share is patriotism like no other. What they share is a commitment to country that has been tested and proved worthy. What they share is the same unflinching courage, unblinking compassion and uncommon camaraderie that the soldiers and civilians of Fort Hood showed America and showed the world.”

But WorldNetDaily was quick to trumpet a radical Islamic organization in England hailing Maj. Hasan as “an officer and a gentleman.”

And the conservative Web site even charged that Hasan had played an “advisory role in President Barack Obama's transition into the White House” thinly based on Hasan’s having attended an event at George Washington University at which corporate executives, academic researchers, and officials from previous administrations discussed homeland security.

Others on the right have suggested that Muslim US military officers might need “special debriefings” or “special screenings.”

In a piece headlined “The massacre at Fort Hood and Muslim soldiers with attitude,” conservative columnist Michelle Malkin writes: “I’ve said it many times over the years and it bears repeating again as cable TV talking heads ask in bewilderment how all the red flags Hasan raised could have been ignored: Political correctness is the handmaiden of terror.”