The killing fields within America

Take this. An Army psychiatrist. Frustration. Opposes war in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was being sent off.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is not somebody one would have heard about. Today, as news comes in about him going on a shooting spree at the Fort Hood Texas Army base killing 13 people and wounding 31, his act is being called madness. Not any old madness, but with the subtext of madness with a method to it.

Retired Col. Terry Lee who had worked with him said:

“He would make comments to other individuals about how we should not be in the war in the first place.”

He also made “outlandish” comments:

“He said maybe Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor. At first, we thought he meant help the armed forces, but apparently, that wasn't the case.”

I am afraid but there are many soldiers and civilians who believe the United States of America should not be in this war. And no American officer would publicly sound so naïve as to suggest that a mental health professional would talk as a Muslim about fighting the aggressor and mean helping the armed forces. What aggression have Iraq or Afghanistan displayed towards the US, until provoked? Their lands are being occupied by outside forces.

If Hasan got poor reviews in his previous posting, had “difficulties” that “required counseling and extra supervision”, why was he in the army?

Texas US Rep. Michael McCaul said that he “took a lot of advanced training in shooting”, and this helped him.

If he had made outlandish comments, had difficulties, and now they say he was a “devout Muslim”, which is enough to brand him, then who permitted him to get this training? What do the rule manuals say about it? Did he get a personal trainer as though this was some private gym?

It is clear that he opposed the wars, that is the reason he fired at his colleagues at the military base shouting out to civilians to move out of the way, something that the US establishment does not do when it uses drones.

His two handguns are said to be not “military-issued”, which raises the question about gun culture.

And what does President Barack Obama have to say?

It's "difficult enough to lose" soldiers in battles abroad, he said, but "it's horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil." The president promised a sweeping investigation of the worst soldier-on-soldier attack ever to take place on US soil.

He might like to consider trying to understand the thinking of his troops. The ones who kill at the army base on US soil or who abuse prisoners in lands they have been sent to under the guise of saviours.

I do hope Maj. Hasan survives (he is on ventilator), appears before the courts and is tried for his crime. There is no doubt about that. It will also open up a few cans of worms for this man dealt with the minds of soldiers. It must have affected him deeply.

The madness lies in the system. He is a cog in the wheel. It is unfortunate that he killed his colleagues. They probably hate the wars as much as he does. Though, one must ask: whose war is it anyway?


  1. unfortunately, this will cause another round of Muslim bashing. Americans do not like their "heroes" killed by traitors.

    The issue becomes, even if he is stressed and troubled by the war atrocities; how come only he did this and no other soldiers.

    When it rains, it pours!

  2. Farzana,
    I have a little different take on the situation. My guess is given his religious and ethnic background the US army probably wanted him in Iraq as a "token mid-eastern successful muslim" representative in Iraq , and - perhaps - as a "human face of US army" token too . On the other hand, the sheer emotional force of fear , perhaps compounded by a vocal stand against war, created a very very deep emotional crisis for the person. And then moreover - won't it be rather naive to assume a muslim of mideast asian origin to be not to be heckled by peers and superiors in US army ? who knows what transpired. In either case, the person already was in a very very helpless situation just because of his ethnic origin and faith. Sort of reminds me a short scene from the famous movie "Crash". The movie depicting stranded passengers of a crash-landed flight on remote island has a character enacting person of iraqi origin trveling in the aircraft. The iraqi - declaring his military and conflict experience in operation "desert storm" - offers to fix a broken wireless set so that help can reach the stranded passengers. An white fat american co-traveller (Notice the american stereotype here) enquires out of curiosity the american military command division iraqi has fought under. Iraqi person retorts back saying it was Iraqi Republican Guard. The american person - giving out a learned expression - suppresses his extreme surprise. A wondeful scenario in the film highlighting not so benign emotions very benignly. Can we seriously believe Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan faced such benign expressions and reactions from his military colleagues ?
    IMO, the media bias is not about underplaying or overplaying the person's race and allegience to faith. The media bias plays out in ignoring proverbial "Gorilla in the Room" - here the Gorilla happens to be bias against naturalised american citizens of middle east asian origins and practicing Islam as faith.
    P.S.: Please excuse me for my misspellings - had a bit of whisky to commemorate the onset of weekend. :-)

  3. FV

    He was on jihad is the theory. How much does his Palestinian origin count? It will be interersting to see how this unfolds. You do raise the important point about whose war.

  4. fv
    If this nutcase didn't wish to go on war, he better would have shoot himself.....

    He took every advantage from us army and squeezed it for it's med school and training and now he doesn't like the way us army operate......surprise, surprise...


  5. This is not a jihad although the issue will be seen in so many different ways...


    Should not he too have been a hero since he served in the army? Yes, he will be seen as a traitor, but it was even before he had fired a single bullet. There is always just one or a handful of individuals who feel strongly and act upon it.
    - -

    I understand your point about tokenism and human face, but he could also be guinea pig. Reports say he was heckled and now they are bringing in the ‘Allahu Akbar’ angle that he shouted out before firing. He must have done that because we know and he knows he was holding the gun with intent to shoot. Why are people so surprised?

    There is no doubt that ethnic minorities suffer emotionally, especially in situations where they are supposed to conquer fear.

    The benign emotions you talk about – I have not watched the film – seem to fit the scenario here and often in other circumstances. And as you point out, the stereotype used in the film of the American too conveys that. It really amounts to having certain kinds of bullies, even the ones who will be deemed victims later.

    PS: Good to see you back in high spirits…and hope the whisky was of Indian origin lest your patriotism is questioned :)
    - -

    Yes, I felt it important to ask whose war is it for both the nations the US is ‘handling’ are not at war with it. It is just an intruding force. Your query about his Palestinian origin is pertinent in that it could result in the Jewish response paradigm as well as how other Arabs react, given that traditionally Palestinians were not given much support by mainstream Arabs.
    - -

    It isn’t only about not wanting to go to war, but opposing the war itself. I am not gloating over the killings, and do believe he ought to be tried, but it is time to look at it in a broader way. By the logic you provide, there should be no movements, no dissent at all – whether in Kashmir or Chechnya; all those folks who have problems should just go and kill themselves.

    It does not quite work like this.

    I do not know if Virginia Tech gave him free education, but everyone who qualifies to be a professional may not use it well. This was a bloody crime; there are many quieter ones committed on a daily basis that go against ethical norms.

    It isn’t that he started out disliking his job…he grew to hate what these particular wars stood for.

  6. I still don't understand why people go shooting randomly just coz they are pissed and disturbed.


  7. Did he get a personal trainer as though this was some private gym?

    You can get private training in firearms beyond the basic army proficiency training required for medical occupations. In Texas, this is almost like learning to drive. The gun he used was a cannon, a large caliber. So, I'm sure he had training or spent time in a gun range.

    why was he in the army?

    They paid for his medical education. They couldn't just let him leave. Plus, there's political correctness.

    Ever asked why, if he didn't want to be deployed, he didn't shoot himself instead of shooting his fellow soldiers?

  8. Arjun:

    Thanks for the first bit of info.

    Re. the rest, even if they paid for his medical education, his record showed him to have problems. re we to assume the US army keeps such people as human shields?

    Political correctness? Does nto manifest itself where it matters...in social matters.

    Ever asked why, if he didn't want to be deployed, he didn't shoot himself instead of shooting his fellow soldiers?

    I find this simplistic in the extreme. I have replied in my response to Circle above.


    You might find the answer - my answer - there. Being pissed and disturbed and shooting people happens outside the army by people everywhere. There are several reasons for it, not all the same, but they need to be examined. It does not lessen the crime, but just makes reflection an important part of our thinking.

  9. Farzana,

    Sorry for replying on this old post. Saw this news article on Maj. Malik at Onion magazine. Notice how subtle and biting the humour can be - especially the last line on American Sikhs sums it up so well.
    The news article may be read at :


  10. Yeah, thanks, Mahesh. You'd be surprised, though, about how many people do not get sarcasm...and think this is really about 'assholes'.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.