President Obama says he will hold accountable those who ignored Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s alleged fanaticism as US investigators try to unravel the prologue to last Thursday’s 4-minute rampage that left 14 dead (including an unborn child) and 29 wounded at Fort Hood, Texas.
“If there was a failure to take appropriate action before the shootings, there must be accountability,” Obama said in his Saturday morning radio address. “[We] must quickly and thoroughly evaluate and address any flaws in the system, so that we can prevent a similar breach from happening again.”
The review is likely to come up not just against individuals who failed to heed numerous red flags thrown up by Maj. Hasan, but a system that some say has gone too far in coddling certain populations to the harm of the military as a whole. Some critics trace the source of political correctness that may have played a role in the Fort Hood massacre straight up to the Pentagon. But will the President?
“In the military everybody has to be treated the same, it’s what holds everybody together,” says Elaine Donnelly, the president of the Center for Military Readiness, a non-partisan group that focuses primarily on military personnel. “You have horizontal cohesion among the troops and you have vertical cohesion between the commander in chief and the troops that he leads. The vertical cohesion is now at risk, and the President should restore it, and realize this was not a breach, as he says, but a consequence of skewed priorities.”
But traditionally the strength of the US military has been that it treats everybody the same.
Today’s diversity-conscious Army is moving in a different direction, critics say, molding itself to the sensitivities of the few, including recent waivers to allow a Sikh soldier to wear a beard.
Moreover, NPR reported that Army professionals taken aback by Hasan’s bizarre behavior explained that, in reporting him to superiors, they were “worried that they might be ‘discriminating’ against Hasan because of his seemingly extremist Islamic beliefs.”
Other red flags include the opinion expressed by one doctor at Walter Reed military hospital that he wouldn’t want to share a foxhole with Hasan.
Such revelations in the wake of the Fort Hood rampage have angered and concerned conservatives and liberals alike.
“The cold, hard truth is political correctness has not only run amok, it is now clearly responsible for a murder rampage on our turf at one of our top military bases,” writes the columnist David Ruthenberg at Oklahoma’s EnidNews.com. “That is terrorism, and PC thinking made it possible.”
Liberal scribe Joel Mathis at RedBlueAmerica agrees. “As much as it pains liberals like me to admit it … political correctness probably played a role in letting Maj. Nidal Hasan continue his career in the Army,” he writes.
Mr. Mathis acknowledges that the inability to weed out individuals ends up reflecting on all members of a particular faith, or minority: “If there is a danger in being so polite and committed to diversity that you can’t recognize a genuine threat … there is an opposite problem: Seeing every Muslim … as a probable threat.”
The Army leadership has been careful to make sure there’s not a backlash against Muslims.
Three days after the massacre, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey asserted that, “as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”
Many have applauded General Casey’s stance.
“The U.S. military is justifiably proud of its role in leading the way in integrating its work forces, ahead of those in the private sector,” writes the editorial board of the Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal. “The tragedy of Fort Hood should not be compounded by losing sight of this value.”
Others have called for Casey’s resignation. This includes Linda Chavez, director of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative think tank opposed to affirmative action.
“I have to say that if this diversity rationale as so articulated by Gen. Casey is to be understood then what we are really saying is that protecting diversity is more important than protecting lives, even the lives of those who defend the freedoms we enjoy,” Chavez said at a Federalist Society conference this week. “And if that’s the case, then the world has gone mad.”
President Obama’s review comes on top of at least two congressional investigations into the Fort Hood massacre. A big question for many Americans will be whether the “flaw in the system,” as the President put it, could be political correctness itself.
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