Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

Losing Our Moral Compass Or When Genocide Becomes A Necessity And Can Be Explained

In Israel/Palestine, Musings On Confusions, Our Wars on December 28, 2009 at 11:33 am

We have often wondered what led so many Germans to just sat by or appeared to ‘collaborate’ during the Jewish genocide, or the Rwandans to engage in mass slaughter of each other, or the Serbians to look away as Sarajevo burned, or the Pakistanis to celebrate the slaughter of the Bengali. And many more such situations that leave so many ‘civilized’ and ‘decent’ people asking themselves that old question: how can a people do this to another?

Well, this is how we do it.

Civilized, decent people very much like ourselves, very much like our neighbors, reveal the lies, hyperbole, ethnic hate, religious delusions, ethno-centric racism that is worn easily and comfortably and thousands of innocents will quietly bleed, die and disappear. And all along we will go about convinced that we were just, civilized and humane. We refuse to raise our consciousness and our sense of morality and justice above primitive ethnic, religious, and nationalist allegiances.

Max Blumenthal continues to reveal an ugly side of our society that today has become a force so contorting that it is simply murderous and genocidal. And yes, what is happening in the name of Israel, in the name of ‘liberty’ and ‘civilization’ – what has been happening there for over 100 years, is an ethnic cleansing, a ethnic genocide of a people who are ‘not Jews’. And it is events such as this, held on the very streets of our very modern city, that fuel it all.

And lets be honest: a strain of American Jewry – more fundamentalist, rabid and hate filled than anything we can find elsewhere, is fueling murder and slaughter. There is so much evidence of it that even Israeli journalists have had to step up to expose it – see Akiva Eldar’s piece called U.S. tax dollars fund rabbi who excused killing gentile babies.

And then there was this recent discussion, thanks for Tikum Olam, that sent chills down my spine (click the CC to get the english translation):

On the streets of New York City, they are dancing in anticipation of Palestinian blood. They are calling for kill. They are lusting for death. And we still have to wonder how the Germans, or the Rwandans, or the Serbians did it? Right under our noses, and right where our fine media, with its self-proclaimed liberal and civilized values, finds it impossible to report, reveal and condemn.

Never again…..indeed!

Who Was That Strange Man I Met In Gaza And Why Was He Drawing Cartoons As People Died?

In Israel/Palestine, Journalism, Our Wars on December 27, 2009 at 11:36 am

It is a world that I have lost touch with, but while I was in it, however marginally, it was filled with an incredible array of intelligent, passionate, engaged and generous people. Post-war Sarajevo bought me in touch with writer Stacy Sullivan, photographer Paul Lowe, photographer and editor Leslie Fratkin and last and definitely not the least, the graphic artist Joe Sacco.

And though my first meeting with Joe Sacco was rather brief – a brush past and a ‘Hello’ at a small cafe in Sarajevo, I finally got to know him better in the Palestinian city of Rafah in Southern Gaza. I ran into him on the streets of that city back in 2003 and learned that he was there working on a new book and research project on an event, a massacre, that had taken place back in 1948 in the city of Khan Younis, a few miles from Rafah.

Over grilled chicken and endless rounds of what he liked to call ‘the official drink of Rafah’ i.e. Mirinda Orange, we talked about his work, about my project and photographic aims, about the occupation of Palestine, and about the meaning of life in a prison like Rafah. It was during that period that we both met the American peace activist Rachel Corrie, and together stood over her body at the morgue in Rafah.

Joe Sacco’s work from that period is now complete, and emerges in the form of a new book called Footnotes In Gaza and the excellent blog Mondoweiss as a preview that I encourage you to go and see – just click on the image below:

From Joe Sacco's New Book "Footnotes In Gaza" Copyright Joe Sacco

From Joe Sacco's New Book "Footnotes In Gaza" Copyright Joe Sacco

The work is an example of rigorous research and journalism. It digs deep into the history of a period that Israel’s nationalist myths have determinedly erased, but that live in the memory and souls of its victims. Patrick Cockburn reviewed the work for The New York Times calling it “…one of the few contemporary works on the Israeli-Palestinian struggle likely to outlive the era in which they were written.”

For those who speak of ‘peace’, works like this remind us that it is not merely peace we seek, but justice as well. For without justice, there can be no peace.

Joe Sacco is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of a number of graphic books including Palestine and Safe Area Goradze amongst others.

Get to know him.

Israel’s Enemy Within Or Why Fundamentalism Is A Universal Evil Not A Special One

In Israel/Palestine, Journalism on December 26, 2009 at 1:16 pm

This is, contrary to what our increasingly discredited President may think, is not a battle between Jews and Arabs. It is a battle between those who, to quote Martha Nussbaum, are prepared to live with and respect others who are different, and those who seek the comfort of homogeneity and the domination of a single ‘pure’ religious and ethnic tradition.

The video makes for disturbing viewing.

Personal Note: The commentator in this video suggests that Israel was founded along secular lines, and that the majority of its people are secular. This is in fact a sleight of hand argument that is based on the naive belief that there is large difference between the Jewish orthodox and the Jewish secular in Israel. The majority of the citizens of Israel still unequivocally support Israel to remain as a ‘Jewish’ state and exclusively as a ‘Jewish’ state to the detriment of the welfare of its Palestinian citizens, and the millions that it holds in a hideous and brutal occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. You can’t have your cake and eat it to. Israeli ‘secularism’ is an hypocritical social and political construct that veils its discriminatory nature behind a language borrowed from the Enlightenment, but contains within it the worst values and instincts of the Victorian & Colonial eras.

The Indians Just Do It Better Or Its Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Birthday

In Musings On Confusions, Writers on December 25, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Lets see, its either this, if you just want to swing

Or this, if you want to do something else, for its Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s birthday and holiday season in The Islamic Republic of Pakistan – what a coincidence!

Seasons greetings all!

And for the Swiss – those few who are so bent out of shape over minarets – a hearty ‘F**k You’ in the form of some scenes from churches in Pakistan, thanks to Pakistaniat.com, on this holiday season:

Oh, and there are more than four in the country, in case you were curious. And indeed, not to dismiss the problems of the minorities in Pakistan, for they remain and are real. But idiocies like that of the Swiss rankle because they remind us of the myopia, stupidity and ignorance that is at the root of these issues. The Swiss, those few at least, set no example. Hopefully, this season, the Pakistanis can offer the Swiss a valuable lesson about tolerance, acceptance and acculturation, however constrained and limited.

A very merry Christmas.

See you all next Eid ul Fitr.

An Inifinite Influence: Robert Frank & The Creation Of Photography

In Photography on December 25, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Robert Frank’s The Americans may actually be the only book that can safely claim to have influenced the work and inspirations of most any photographer, documentarian and photojournalist born and working since the 1950s. There isn’t a Most Influential Photographers Of The Century list that will not list Frank’s name. This is truly one of the great documentary works of our time, and worth seeing again and again.

Luckily for us, there is a spectacular show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans. It runs until January 3rd 2010, so rush to see it.

The photographer Dominique Nabokov spoke about the exhibition and Robert Frank in a short podcast on the New York Review of Books. You can listen to it here:

This is photographic work that reminds you of the singular beauty, power and relevance of the photograph – facts that we have forgotten in our rush to become ‘modern’ and multi-media. Nothing holds the eye, and the mind, as a photograph and it is to our detriment that we have cheapened the craft with the dominating seduction of speed to product that digital photography offers and an associated indifference to the patience and close observation that reveals more and reveals long.

Robert Frank’s work has survived nearly sixty years and will survive well into the future. It is a timeless effort, journalistic, documentarian, human and as Nabokov herself points out, ‘miraculous’.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s HOME

In Musings On Confusions, The Daily Discussion on December 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm

It is, despite my earlier misgivings, a spectacular production, and worth each minute.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s HOME project is a sight to behold, and a realization that demands repentance.

You can see the entire film by clicking on the image below. Please note, the film is not available in the USA.

Here is to yet another wonderful new year!

Photographers I Like: Balazs Gardi & Facing Water Crisis

In Photography on December 23, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Magazines were once the principal and perhaps most sought after outlet for working photographers and photojournalists. Even today, most photographer resumes feature a large (and sometimes ridiculously extensive) list of ‘client’ publications that have featured the their work.

But the realities of a fading magazine landscape – a fading that is creative, intellectual, informative, journalistic and financial, has compelled many to turn to their own resources and resourcefulness to bring to life important and compelling stories. Magazine will remain a source of making hard money, but frankly, I suspect that they will not be important as the final destination of a working photographer’s ideas and aspirations. Getting a double-page spread in a famous American weekly journal will not be the ‘trophy’ that we once considered it to be.

A photographer who is bravely, creatively and interestingly staking out his own path is Balazs Gardi with his Facing Water Crisis Project.

Ramkadar, left, takes rest in front of a public well in Mumbai, India. He pulls a 500 liter water tank for 12 hours a day in downtown Mumbai, selling drinkable water to local residents and earning about $5 a day. Although Mumbai, India's financial capital, has a fairly good water distribution infrastructure, many residents rely on hundreds of workers like Ramkadar. Copyright Balazs Gardi

A member of VII Network, I met Balazs in Dubai earlier in 2009 and was impressed with his independent spirit and confident belief in his own ideas. I also found it refreshing that he was not a self-absorbed, narcissistic blow hard gushing about himself and his work. Qualities that would however be quite reasonable for someone who is a multiple World Press Photo winner amongst other achievements.

Check out the project website and explore how a photographer is charting new grounds, aware of the risks, but determined to have his say, and to speak to issues at a level of complexity and engagement that a magazine format and most magazine editor’s attention span will just not allow.

Tariq Ali On The Mess In Afghanistan And Why Its Only About To Get Worse

In Our Wars on December 11, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Are You Happy To See Me Or Is That A Minaret In Your Lederhosen?

In Musings On Confusions, The Daily Discussion on December 4, 2009 at 3:43 pm

The decision is stupid, disgraceful and racist. I have expressed my views on it in an earlier post called Welcome To The Islamic Republic of Switzerland Or Do You Want Your Burqa In Black Or Blue?

Today Jon Stewart of The Daily Show just calls it as it is:

more about “Single Prayer Option: The Daily Show …“, posted with vodpod

‘Going Muslim’ At Fort Hood Or How Rabid Simplicities Masquerading As Insight Just Sell More Magazines

In Musings On Confusions, Our Wars, The Daily Discussion on December 2, 2009 at 8:55 am

It did not take long for overtly racist explanations to be offered. Before facts come fantasy, and before truth comes tabloid opinions masquerading as insight. And it arrived not in some radical, fringe magazine but in the pages of the international magazine Forbes by one of their regular contributors. (I of course ignore the determined Islamophobia of outlets like Fox News.)

Tunku Varadarajan wrote a piece for Forbes magazine on 11th November 2009, title Going Muslim where he argued that:

“Going postal” is a piquant American phrase that describes the phenomenon of violent rage in which a worker–archetypically a postal worker–“snaps” and guns down his colleagues.

As the enormity of the actions of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sinks in, we must ask whether we are confronting a new phenomenon of violent rage, one we might dub–disconcertingly–“Going Muslim.” This phrase would describe the turn of events where a seemingly integrated Muslim-American–a friendly donut vendor in New York, say, or an officer in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood–discards his apparent integration into American society and elects to vindicate his religion in an act of messianic violence against his fellow Americans. This would appear to be what happened in the case of Maj. Hasan.

Mr. Varadarajan is no clown – he is in fact a a professor at NYU’s Stern Business School and a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, and an executive editor for opinions at Forbes. Clearly a man of some learning and yet able to offer us this fine insight:

This is part of a larger–and too-hot-to-touch–American problem, which is the privileging of religion, and its frequent exemption from rules of normal discourse. Muslims may be more extreme because their religion is founded on bellicose conquest, a contempt for infidels and an obligation for piety that is more extensive than in other schemes.

Moving on to ask us a crucial question of whether:

But can the American swagger persist if many Americans come genuinely to view Muslims as Fifth Columnists? The integration compact depends on a broad trust that the immigrant’s desire to be American can happily co-exist with his other forms of racial/cultural/religious identity. Once that trust doesn’t exist, America faces a problem in need of urgent resolution.

One doesn’t quite know where to begin to respond to what is without a doubt an overtly racist diatribe that takes the actions of an individual and paints it as that of a collectivity. That is after all the ideal description of racism: (noun) the belief that all members of a group posses characteristics or abilities (or pathologies) specific to that group. But then again, the learned professor is not alone in this and arrives as the inheritor of centuries of orientalist thought that can never quite reconcile itself to the individuality of the people it labels as Muslims. And he is not alone in America, or elsewhere.

But the learned professor raises specific points which I would like to examine perhaps a little more closely.

He says in this very article that ‘they’ [the Muslims] are more extreme because ‘their’ religion is …founded on bellicose conquest, a contempt for infidels and an obligation for piety that is more extensive than in other schemes.

Only sheer hubris combined with willful amnesia can allow this gentleman to offer us this explanation. Hubris as he sits as a citizen of a nation that is at this very moment in violent and repressive conquest of at least two once sovereign nations, and whose army has repeatedly insisted on a sheer contempt for the infidels it has found there and encouraged its soldiers to piety the likes of which can only make the foundations of our Republic weaker. The hundreds of thousands that have died since 2001 under the guns and arrogance of an overtly Christian/Evangelical administration that also led us to become instigators of war crimes, violators of international law and perpetrators of mass murder perhaps may not agree that it is Islam that is intrinsically programmed to encourage mass violence, conquest and/or piety.

(For those with short memories, see Micklethwait/Wooldridge’s The Right Nation, or Chris Hedges’ American Fascists or Michelle Goldberg’s Kingdom Coming or any number of others books on this issue)

I don’t think I have to elaborate on our occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, so I will move to the next point – Islam’s unique contempt for infidels and its piety. Really? Is it that unique? Lets see.

In a fabulous piece written by the relentless Jeff Sharlet for Harpers Magazine title “Jesus Killed Mohammed: The Crusade For A Christian Military”, he points out that:

When Barack Obama moved into the Oval Office in January, he inherited a military not just drained by a two-front war overseas but fighting a third battle on the home front, a subtle civil war over its own soul. On one side are the majority of military personnel, professionals who regardless of their faith or lack thereof simply want to get their jobs done; on the other is a small but powerful movement of Christian soldiers concentrated in the officer corps.

What men such as these have fomented is a quiet coup within the armed forces: not of generals encroaching on civilian rule but of religious authority displacing the military’s once staunchly secular code. Not a conspiracy but a cultural transformation, achieved gradually through promotions and prayer meetings, with personal faith replacing protocol according to the best intentions of commanders who conflate God with country. They see themselves not as subversives but as spiritual warriors—“ambassadors for Christ in uniform,” according to Officers’ Christian Fellowship; “government paid missionaries,” according to Campus Crusade’s Military Ministry.

This is perhaps one of the scariest pieces of journalism I have read, reminding us of the infiltration of Christian fundamentalist ideology infesting the armed forces and its consequences for our operations abroad. Perhaps the learned professor would do well to read his words, including:

Within the fundamentalist front in the officer corps, the best organized group is Officers’ Christian Fellowship, with 15,000 members active at 80 percent of military bases and an annual growth rate, in recent years, of 3 percent. Founded during World War II, OCF was for most of its history concerned mainly with the spiritual lives of those who sought it out, but since 9/11 it has moved in a more militant direction. According to the group’s current executive director, retired Air Force Lieutenant General Bruce L. Fister, the “global war on terror”—to which Obama has committed 17,000 new troops in Afghanistan—is “a spiritual battle of the highest magnitude.” As jihad has come to connote violence, so spiritual war has moved closer to actual conflict, “continually confronting an implacable, powerful foe who hates us and eagerly seeks to destroy us,” declares “The Source of Combat Readiness,” an OCF Scripture study prepared on the eve of the Iraq War.

As we look across to our Israeli allies, we ironically (or perhaps not) find in fact the same problem there! In a scathing piece written by Christopher Hitchens called An Army of Extremists for Slate Magazine, he pointed out that:

Recent reports of atrocities committed by Israeli soldiers in the course of the intervention in Gaza have described the incitement of conscripts and reservists by military rabbis who characterized the battle as a holy war for the expulsion of non-Jews from Jewish land. The secular Israeli academic Dany Zamir, who first brought the testimony of shocked Israeli soldiers to light, has been quoted as if the influence of such extremist clerical teachings was something new. This is not the case.

And should one have thought that this was simply a rare exception, he goes on to remind us that:

Possibly you remember Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the man who in February 1994 unslung his weapon and killed more than two dozen worshippers at the mosque in Hebron. He had been a physician in the Israeli army and had first attracted attention by saying that he would refuse to treat non-Jews on the Sabbath. …[I]n the March 22 New York Times about the preachments of the Israeli army’s latest chief rabbi, a West Bank settler named Avichai Rontzski who also holds the rank of brigadier general. He has “said that the main reason for a Jewish doctor to treat a non-Jew on the Sabbath … is to avoid exposing Diaspora Jews to hatred.” Those of us who follow these things recognize that statement as one of the leading indicators of a truly determined racist and fundamentalist. Yet it comes not this time in the garb of a homicidal lone-wolf nut bag but in the full uniform and accoutrement of a general and a high priest.

And we can even look outside of the ‘immediate’ military structure, and find piety and a religious zeal for conquest raising its ugly head. In an article written by Jeremy Scahill titled Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder we learn that:

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia.The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

In fact, the allegations read as follows:

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”

Again, perhaps the learned professor would like to peruse this material if for no other reason than to understand that zealotry, piety, and a desire for conquest is never the exclusive purvey of any one spiritual delusion, but reflects the world views of practically all of them.

But in particular, at this moment in time and history, at this juncture of modernity, if there is a rapid, rapacious, powerful and in fact in execution spiritual movement of conquest and a drive for excessive piety, it is more so in the hands of some of the most powerful military nations in the world. And none of them can claim an Islamic collective mindset.

I will say something about the learned professor’s incredibly racist mistake in assuming that the shooter was an immigrant – as he says The integration compact depends on a broad trust that the immigrant’s desire to be American can happily co-exist with his other forms of racial/cultural/religious identity. But in fact Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is as pure an American as they come; born, raised, educated and trained in the United States of America. He wasn’t an immigrant professor, he was an American.

And he was an American inside a deeply Christianized, racist military structure that has become comfortable speaking about and of the Arab world and Muslims in the most derogatory, demeaning and racist terms. It has become so because its wars are against a people it sees as a mass, a mob, a group, a collective – A-rabs, Muslims, ragheads, hajjis. The latter term is used openly and gleerfully in even such mainstream Hollywood films such as Stop-Loss. (I am sure there are more, but Hollywood is not something I watch with interest or regularity.)

The army has has become so because it is the war that it is fighting and it is here that we refuse to ask the hard question; how much of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s rage was against his fellow soldiers and the atmosphere at the base itself that allowed for a constant and unchecked language of hate and ridicule against an entire religion, people, culture and way of life? Were there, perhaps, white supremacists on the loose? Well, we will never know of course.

But I am sure that the learned professor doesn’t know either. What is dismaying is that he does not have the awareness to ask, but has instead chosen to give public vent to what can only be a deeply personal hatred against all Muslims claiming that it is only political correctness that is forcing America, and her Army, from taking the necessary, collective/racial profiling, actions that it should. He is angry that America suffers from a …privileging of religion, and its frequent exemption from rules of normal discourse.

Lets be clear, the learned professor is not complaining about America’s privileging of all religions, for after all it is not the insanity of the Christian Evangelicals that has bought him to this realization, but that the country is not collectively targeting Muslims! We have to remember that the same learned professor has been an outspoken advocate of racial profiling of Muslims in America,

But dear professor, viewing a crime as the act of an individual and not because of a pathology indigenous to an entire collectivity is less about being politically correct and more about being just and not being a racist. In fact, the determination to not reduce this to yet another all-too-easy Islam bashing exercise is a testament to America’s determination to return to the ways of the law and legality, and to move its society back to a point where it speaks not with generic hatred of an imaginary collectivity but with genuine desire to offer both justice and rights for individuals who commit crimes. It is one of the very set of values we always speak about and insist are what we are killing in places around the world for!

And it is a battle that we as American citizens have had to fight hard – to move past the infantile and retrograde desire to hate ‘all of them’ for the actions of a few, to lynch them for their color for example, and move towards the point where we can see individuals and individual responsibility and make them not only the recipients of retribution, but also the motivation for our respect for fundamental liberties and rights.

I do not know what led Maj. Hasan to do what he did. I can’t even begin to understand his motivations, and certainly not his actions. I remain dismayed to learn that he chose to justify his murders on the basis of his spiritual beliefs. Just as I have been dismayed to learn about Jewish extremists gloating about their murders on the basis of their beliefs, or Christian fanatics e.g. those in the US military I speak about earlier explaining their bloody rampages because of their ‘loving god’. Maybe he was just a mentally disturbed and ill person, as a recent NPR piece claims to have uncovered. Maybe he lost his way. I don’t know. I don’t claim to have an answer here.

My interest here is to question our learned professor. And wonder how we have arrived at a moment in time when such blatantly racist statements can make it to the pages of one of our most respected magazines, and then find hundreds who rush to defend his bigotry? Our continued insistence on seeing Muslims as a collective whole, tied at the psychological and moral level into one large blob, is quite flabbergasting and ultimately confusing.

Like a taint, a disease, a scar or a deformation, anyone, man, woman or child, even vaguely or deeply implicated by having been born, raised, educated, traveled to, interested in, curious about things Muslim has his entire identity and all its various other facets subsumed and erased by the label of being Muslim. And once that is established, the individual is safely dropped back into a mob, where only mob acts that are predictable and programmatic based on an formalized, systematized, idealized and perfectly synchronized response to instructions in text books or from the mouths of religious leaders can occur. LIke robots in a massive spiritual assembly line, anything that reeks of Islam can be expected to behave like a swarm, mindlessly following the dictates of their religious books, devoid of individuality, individual morality, judgment, discernment and comprehension.

I am diseased.

There have been calls to sanction the learned professor. I don’t support these calls. I think it would be better to debate him. He has a right to speak, and we would be right to dissuade him off his delusions rather than sanction him to where he would simply continue his nonsense.

UPDATE: A recent article in The Boston Review, titled God, The Army & PTSD by Tara McKelvey raises a number of important questions about the increasing use of Christian religious/spiritual material at military institutions, including the pop-psych mumbo-jumbo of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren, to treat soldiers suffering from PTSD and other psychiatric problems. For example, it points out that:

When a 2006 Government Accountability Office report raised questions about whether soldiers were getting the psychiatric help they needed, an assistant secretary of defense disputed the report’s findings, pointing to the fact that soldiers were being referred to chaplains. During this time contracts for veterans’ services were increasingly parceled out to leaders of faith-based organizations rather than to secular ones, even though veterans’ advocates opposed any bias toward faith-based treatment and argued that replacing empirically proven, nonsectarian programs with faith-based ones was a mistake.

As one commentator points out in the responses to this piece:

Major Hasan would have been familiar with the conditions described in this essay. As psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center for the last five years he would have both treated patients for PTSD and have been familiar with the preference for faith based treatments described in this article.

We hear from Major Hasan’s family that he complained about religious harassment during his tenure at Walter Reed but we do not know specifics. It is reasonable to believe that his patients suffering from PTSD might not have liked being treated by a Muslim and almost certainly heard specific opinions about Islam and Muslims from those patients. The inevitable investigation into Major Hasan’s career will reveal the dynamic of those patient interactions.

This is, again, about asking human questions about a human, criminal act so that we may know meaningful and actionable facts and truths about such heinous acts. I raised this point in the main essay (see below) some weeks ago. Searching for the psychology of ‘Muslims’, as the learned Tunku Varadarajan wants to do, or exploring the pages of a religious text, while erasing daily and ordinary social, political and lived reality of an individual is a false, and frankly, racist approach. It seems to be particularly reserved for anyone who can be labeled ‘Muslim’. That word – ‘Muslim’ has now come to take on the meaning of a special species – devoid of individuality and history and to be seen only as a mob, mass, collectivity, blob and spiritually programmed pathology.