Karen and Laurence, this latest example of a “lone shooter” reminds me of an oddly-similar situation from some 2 years ago, that of the supposed suicide of Colonel Ted Westhusing. It strikes me as rather coincidental as well that Major Hasan was, like Colonel Westhusing, well-educated and high-ranking. Neither of these men could accurately be categorized as an uninformed-grunt-acting-out, as was the initial party line for the torturers at Abu Ghraib. The only difference is that Westhusing killed only himself, while Hasan apparently figured he would take a few others with him. (Yes, I realize Hasan is not dead, but I’d figure that anyone who starts shooting on an army base isn’t really planning for a long vacation afterward!)
Amid all the shock, and certainly shock is warranted, I, like so many here, wonder if seemingly obvious questions about not only this event, but the totality of military action such as that in Afghanistan and Iraq, will be asked. How can our society remain ignorant of the fact that statist violence is only capable of generating evil? The expansion of violence cannot provide a logical remedy for the failure of violence. Simply put, killing people to illustrate that killing people is wrong doesn’t work.
Who killed these victims, and Westhusing, and Tillman, and so many others, including so many innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan? I submit that it was not Hasan or men like him, not really. With apologies for not being more creative, I’ll just paraphrase myself from that previous essay in answer.
Every person who displays a “support the troops” magnet on their car killed them. Every person who stands around the water cooler (or posts on “the internets”) about the desperate need for Amerikan intervention to stop the spread of heinous “Islamo-Fascists” killed them. Every school official who allows the U.S. military to recruit new killers-for-hire on school grounds killed them. Every person who is not absolutely certain that a standing army has no purpose but aggression and imperialism killed them. He pulled the trigger, but someone else loaded the bullet. When one allows active-duty-dodging chickenhawks to determine the foreign policy of the U.S. he cocks the gun. I am certain that no one wants to die in a terrorist bombing. I am equally sure no one wants to die from a bomb dropped because they live in a place from whence terrorists supposedly come.
At what point will these types of events bring significant discussion–not just among crazy anarchists and other supposedly-Utopian freedom-lovers, but from the general populace–about why such actions as invading Iraq can have no positive outcome?
UPDATE from Skrag:
3:07 pm on November 6, 2009 Email Wilton Alston
I personally think that listening to the horror stories of soldiers returning from overseas, after likely talking to some of them before they left, or witnessing some of them not returning after he coerced them into going, may have been what drove him over the edge. His job was a contradiction, just like mine as a combat medic. I was trained to save lives at all costs, and to kill ruthlessly. For most this is a path straight to insanity.