Friday, November 06, 2009

The Broad Brush

[More Update: To the "No Muslim can be trusted" guys: Nobody can be trusted. You should be a little wary (or at least aware) even of the people you know best. Mass murderers come from a wide variety of ethnic groups -- Jews, neo-Nazis, Asians, Cubans, etc. (this whiny site starts with a broad-brush description of such killers that many of their examples do not fit. Or try Wikipedia). Such behavior is so rare that it defies easy prediction. The Fort Hood killer had many of the signs that suggest impending suicide; most suicides take out only themselves at most but if your buddy starts giving stuff away and talking overmuch of the next life, might be a good idea to step up. Suicide is way more common than killing sprees; perhaps it's a personal matter, but who wants to trip over a dead friend some fine morning? Also, as Breda has said, carry a gun; it's a lighter burden than regret. Ft. Hood, pretty much a gun-free zone, even for most of the soldiers].

In other news, 3,699 to 13,999 Muslims serving in the U. S. military didn't go on a shooting spree yesterday. (Update: I'm hearing "over 4000" more than any other figure).

It's not the religion. It's not the guns. It's the crazy. And no one group has a lock on crazy. Yeah, it'd be nice if you could single out the wicked and the dangerously loony with a simple survey. But it doesn't work that way and no amount of pointing-with-alarm will make it so.

I expect a certain degree of "Yes, but--" in response to this, plus a few accusing me of being dangerously blind. Nope; as terrorism, the Fort Hood shootings are singularly ineffective. The guy was a nutjob -- and managed to keep it under control for a good long while, if the reporting is to be believed.

UPDATE: Me, from Comments:

Point: I do NOT mean "crazy" in the sense of "the poor dear can't help himself," but to denote that the behavior does not make sense to anyone but the killer.

What's in it for him? There's gotta be a payoff, or it's crazy.
- Ram planes into a prominent building with major loss of life? Highly visible, hits the Great Satan where he lives (if you you share the Islamo-fascist's outlook), plus effects as noted in the next example.
- Send ijits to blow themselves and bystanders up in Israel or car-bomb London? The point there is both to induce terror in the civilian population and to provoke the government to bear down hard, turning their society into a highly-regimented armed camp -- you know, like a military base.
- Assassinate a high-value target, blow a hole in a ship, blow up a barracks? Pretty obvious payoff.

This guy accomplished none of those things. As an Islamic terrorist, he sucks. He is a better fit to "troubled loner who feels trapped shoots up unarmed innocents," though if those are elaborate suicides, he muffed that, too.

On the other hand, a significant portion of head-candlers get into that line because they think they might be a little whacky themselves; it's a significant risk factor.

Him being a Muslim played a part in this but I'm standing by my judgment: loopy, stupid or both.

34 comments:

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Yes. More appropo to blogs like ours would be noting that somehow the spree shooter was able to get guns into a Gun Free School Zone (Gun Free Fed Reservation Zone? Gun Free Army Zone?) despite laws and rules to prevent him from doing so. Unpossible!

And the irony of a place full of military grade firearms that no one was allowed to have handy in an emergency.

James E. Griffin said...

To illustrate X's point, Ex commander of CENTCOM, John Abizaid, is Muslim. His Muslim father retired as a Navy Chief Petty Officer. Damn decent human being, not to mention a credit to the uniform.

Folks might remember CENTCOM, ya know, Iraq, Afghanistan.

First, we let CID, FBI and others do their jobs. After the investigation is the time to talk policy. At this time, we remember the murdered and the injured.

Ed Skinner said...

I recently spent a week in Oklahoma City teaching a software class at the FAA training facility there.

One weekday afternoon I drove downtown to see the memorial.

Yeah, nut-jobs. (Watch your back!)

Lorimor said...

Fanatics of any flavor can be dangerous. However, taking a worldwide view of Islam, there seems to be a pattern.

As in, they've got more than their share of fanatics willing to kill.

Bob S. said...

Great Point Roberta,

We don't want to be painted with that same broad brush because he was a gun owner or because some other gun owner went crazy.

I think the focus should be on why the warning signs were missed and what we should do about such signs

W.Richards said...

Thanks Roberta for saying what needs to be pointed out.

Ben said...

While you have a point my counterpoint would be that the Muslim religion has a greater percentage of their believers who are extremist and a lot of their leaders and believers encourage and promote extremism. The Christian religion has very few people at least in modern times who I would describe as extremist to the point Muslims Eric Rudolph being the only one that comes immediately to mind although there may be a couple more.Most Christian extremist are more of the Fred Phelps Westboro Baptist kook job variety loud and annoying but mostly harmless.
I personally believe that the majority of Muslims are extremist in their sympathies and beliefs even if they are not in their actions otherwise they would do more to stop their more extremist elements.

Owen said...

very very true, needed to be said.

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

You called it, right down to the "yabbuts"

karrde said...

Was this a nutjob with a position as a psychiatrist of some stripe or other?

Weirder things have happened.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

You're gonna get wackos. The disturbing thing is the numbers of people that would never do this themselves against Westerners in the name of their religion, but none the less approve.

When an ostensible gun rights enthusiast goes around the bend, very few of us NON crazy and non murderous gunnies cheer him on.

og said...

Islam has no patents on whackos. On the lifting hand, though, at the core of islam is a message of enslavement and convert or die that exists in no christian theology. You're gonna get more whackos when their holy of holies says "kill the unbeliever". That's not bias, its just math.

Larry said...

What og said. Plus a whole lot of related data points and quite a few references.

I've been looking into it for a while and I've come to some conclusions. Those conclusions don't go away because I've been chided about categorizing people- I'm not a racist. I'm a cultural imperialist, and I don't apologize for that.

My basic stance on life says that individuals within groups are more varied than the differences between groups. So yes, judge the man, not the grouping of somewhat similar visible physical characteristics. But a man's religion is a choice, particularly in this country, and so is how he expresses it. Whether (as I've argued elsewhere) this is a case of narcicistic personality disorder (which is a moral failing, more than a mental illness, IMO) which will be dressed up in God's will, or a genuine feeling of religious oppression, this is a person who knew right from wrong, was not on some kind of psychotic break from reality, and is perfectly competent to have a needle stuck in his arm.

"Crazy" is not appropriate for two reasons; it's dismissive of the motive, which does matter from the point of view of corrective action, and it is dismissive of the personal responsibility he bears for his choices. We tend to categorize moral failings as mental illness in these days, and that is not right.

Dave R. said...

Bull. 1 in 14,000 going on a shooting rampage is a significant enough percentage. Especially compared to the 100% of Mormons, Catholics and everyone else who don't go on shooting sprees, at least not while shouting "God is great" or making statements about the legitimacy of striking back against their Protestant oppressors. And after Salt Lake City and Vancouver and the El Al airport counter shooting and the DC sniper and others, no, its not a one-off event at all. A technically low percentage of Muslims who go off on what they themselves describe as jihad becomes very significant when the events are ongoing.

Implicitly this post makes the same demand others are making explicitly, that without a membership card in his wallet, an unbroken chain of command to al-Qaeda or sealed orders signed by bin Laden that we treat this guy as a lone wacko with no larger significance whatsoever. But this fundamentally mis-reads the nature of militant Islamist idealogy and propaganda. Self-motivated martyrs are a desired feature of the system, not an unpredictable flaw.

(Cross-posted at Uncle's.)

Old Grouch said...

I'll take "Trust But Verify," please...

While no one group has "a lock on crazy," IMO og is right that Islam is unique among the major religions because its mandate to its followers to enslave or destroy the infidel removes one barrier to the "nut" acting "nutty." Christians, Jews, heck... even rationalists, all have justify their way around "Thou Shalt Not Murder (full stop)" (and its variants) before heading out to blow random people away. Very different when your religion labels the people around you some sort of untermenschen to be either ruled or destroyed.

So I'll try not to pre-judge, but keep my powder dry.

(Also agree that "crazy" is only appropriate in a very few of these cases. IMO, most of the time it's the excuse society uses when it's unwilling to confront the reality of evil.)

Tam said...

So if he was, say, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, would there be the hysterical rush to say "It's not because he's pale, it's because he's crazy!"

I got the fact that he's crazy: He mowed down a room full of unarmed people while yelling "Allahu Akhbar", which is not a common activity among the sane.

D.W. Drang said...

Three mass murders in the US military that I can think of off the top of my head over the last 30 years: this one, one at Ft Bragg, and the fragging in Iraq a few years ago.

I dunno who thought a .mil shrink should have a gun... or, for that matter, that they should let him wander around free for 6 months after monitoring his comments on a message board in which he spoke approvingly of Wahhabist homicide bombers...

Or, that he should have been allowed to remain in uniform after using his position as a .mil shrink to proselytize for "The Religion Of Peace." If Chaplains aren't supposed to proselytize, then damn sure head shrinkers shouldn't!

Full disclosure: I have a bias against .mil shrinks. As an MI geek, if any of my troops had seen a shrink, s/he could have lost his/her clearance "just because." So, I further wonder, since he was a Field Grade ossifer and a shrink, he had to have a clearance, so who ran his background checks?

Or that the fact that he was Born In The USA but listed his nationality as "Palestinian" didn't make anyone wonder.

I forsee a Court Martial which the Army will do everything to avoid having turned into a media circus.
I forsee His Imperial Majesty trying to impose a a PC verdict, and the Army telling him to STFU, and at least giving him Life Without Parole.
Although, I believe they still have a functioning gallows at Leavenworth...

Mark said...

Forgive me for saying it this way, but I felt it was safer for me to come back to the Uck to regroup when I realised my neural wiring was still ... unstable. In short, I felt that for most of the time since I had my brain jelly all jangled up, I would be unsafe with a gun. So I went to the Uck. I'll be back in the US next year, as aside from losing both parents in two weeks (ouch) I've been tolerably stable most of the time.

If you're safe, you're fine. If you're not safe, put yourself someplace with lots of rubber bumpers. Enough said.

rudekitty said...

There's 1.9 billion Muslims on the planet, so you gotta figure there's gonna be some crazies. Just a matter of numbers, meow!

And if you're going to profile spree killers, I got a profile for ya: He's white, male, young to middle aged, a glassy look to his eyes, and tends to fall into apocalyptic religious rantings when he's finally arrested. Whether we're talkin' Charlie Manson, the Unibomber, Timmy McVeigh, Charlie Starkweather, John Wayne Gacy, whatever, they all fit that profile, meow! So you white and male and young to middle aged? Time to round ya up and take ya off to the concentration camps, meow!

Roberta X said...

I'm sorry, Tamara; just when did I become hysterical here? Point it out, please.

...If a member of the Aryan Brotherhood shanks Ice Dog, Ray-Ray or a paleface trusty in the joint or if he wipes out a Lefty radio host or shoots up a synagogue outside the walls, I don't think "crazy;" if he shoots up a military base or a random mall, I kinda do.

Point: I do NOT mean "crazy" in the sense of "the poor dear can't help himself," but to denote that the behavior does not make sense to anyone but the killer.

What's in it for him? There's gotta be a payoff, or it's crazy. Ram planes into a prominent building with major loss of life? Highly visible, hits the Great Satan where he lives (if you you share the Islamo-fascist's outlook). Send ijits to blow themselves and bystanders up in Israel or car-bomb London? The point there is both to induce terror in the civilian population an to provoke the government to bear down hard, turning their society into a highly-regimented armed camp -- you know, like a military base.. Assassinate a high-value target, blow a hole in a ship, blow up a barracks? Pretty obvious payoff. This guy accomplished none of those things. As an Islamic terrorist, he sucks.

On the other hand, a significant portion of head-candlers get into that line because they think they might be a little whacky themselves; it's a significant risk factor.

Him being a Muslim played a part in this but I'm standing by my judgment: loopy, stupid or both. He should be given a fair trial and then hanged. Publicly.

Dave R.: you're inferring this from two (2) data points. I have way more evidence white men are serial killers.

--Dammit, my point is y'better not assume anybody is safe. Whackjobs inclined to killing sprees are a very small percentage of the species and they don't come with handy labels.

Mark: you do know you're not required to own a gun as a prerequisite to citizenship here? Heck, they don't even make you wear overshoes when it rains.

doubletrouble said...

Not all Muslims are terrorists, to be sure.

But so far (McVeigh et al, excepted), all terrorists have been Muslim.

For consideration...

Roberta X said...

Major Nidal was a lousy terrorist, achieving none of the high-value goals. He scores higher as a spree shooter, though still not high.

....Most lonely males aren't mass killers, either -- but most mass killers are men of middle age or younger and loners.

Me, I don't trust anybody.

D.W. Drang said...

doubletrouble said...
Not all Muslims are terrorists, to be sure.

But so far (McVeigh et al, excepted), all terrorists have been Muslim.


Wrong, wrong, wrong.
IRA. Bader-Meinhoff. Red Army Factions. Japanese Red Army. Molly Maguires. Symbionese Liberation Army. Black Panthers. FLN. FARC. Stern Group. Irgun. Brownshirts. Silver shirts. KKK. Sendero Luminoso. Weathermen/Weather Underground. ELF/ALF. FLQ.

That said, Islam seems to have a built-in bias in favor of slaughtering those who do not hear the same voices you do.

Anonymous said...

An Officer and a DR. Goverment heath care? Just sayin.

BadTux said...

Muslims are still a piker at slaughter compared to Christians. The Holocaust. Done by European Christians. Just sayin'.

But wait, if one Muslim is a terrorist, and there's been a whole lot of Muslim terrorists, then all Muslims are terrorists. And if one Christian is a mass murderer, and there's been a whole lot of Christian mass murderers, then all Christians are mass murderers? The fact that there's been a whole lot of Christian mass murderers, who've killed tens of millions of people, doesn't mean all Christians are mass murderers. But by the logic of the "all Muslims are terrorists" types, every single Christian should be in jail as a mass murderer. Talk about logic fail!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

BadTux said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BadTux said...

BTW, if you want mass slaughter of non-believers by believers, the Thirty Years War between Catholics and Protestants made anything Muslims have ever done look like child's play. The population of Germany was *HALVED* by the time the believers of either side finished slaughtering the unbelievers. Muslims tended to tax unbelievers rather than slaughter them to encourage them to voluntarily convert to Islam... indeed, until modern times there were more Jews in the Islamic world than in the Christian world, it was only in the late 19th century after medical advances in the Christian world (that the Islamic world did not share) that the population of European Jews surpassed the population of Jews in the Islamic world...

So clearly, all Christians are mass murderers who murder non-believers. Hey, I'm just using the same logic as the "all Muslims are terrorists" types!

- Badtux the History Penguin

Larry said...

"What's in it for him? There's gotta be a payoff, or it's crazy.
"


Frustrated narcicism. Pretty common among Arab/Islamic men. Mommy and sisters bowing and scraping all his life. Precious little prince... whooops? What? Other people don't give a shit about you? Don't realize you are a prince among men? Western girls don't pay attention? Horrors.

"Well, I'll show them! Bastards can't treat me with this disrespect! I'll kill them and receive my reward from Allah directly. It's blasphemy how they don't bow to me, or Mecca. God will punish them further in hell, while I finally get laid by 72 virgins."

Larry said...

The holocaust wasn't done asa Christian movement, but by a racial purity movement that was espousing a "return" to "more authentic" pagan roots with a mythic hero context of the "Aryan" race. Sort of a mix of Norse mythology and nature worship.

I'm not a Christian, BTW. Got no skin in the religion game other than the fact that Islam calls for the conversion or death of pagans and infidels who aren't "peoples of the book".

Mark Steyn has the right perspective.

BadTux said...

Wow, so many things that aren't true in one comment. Congratulations, Larry, you've accomplished something that lesser trolls have labored mightily to do. You've not only slandered 1.9 billion people in one fell swoop, but you've done it while repeating no less than three different conspiracy theories with no basis in fact other than the rabid speculations of zealots.

There are 1.9 billion Muslims on this planet. If they wanted us all converted or dead, we would be converted or dead. Numbers, dude, numbers. They're important. You can't just ignore them because you got a hate on against all 1.9 billion Muslims on this planet, reality simply doesn't work that way.

Larry said...

Yes, I'm a troll. Ooh, I've got a hate on.

Dude, the entire world is eff'd up. We're monkeys pounding on keyboards hoping somebody types out Hamlet, but we don't know what Hamlet is yet.

I'm a cultural imperialist- freely admitted. I don't approve of Islam. Freely admitted. I think it's stupid, and harmful. I believe Islam is a net negative as a philosophy, never mind the superstition that's in it.

I think Nidal Malik Hasan is a loser who was set up to be that way by his familiy's culture and religion, who was enabled by Islam to become violent. It provided an excuse and was the deciding factor, not the cause. Islam with some watering down of the xenophobia and a different cultural matrix is far less violent. The main problem with Islam is the Quran as the perfect book: there is ZERO room for modification that is truly consistent with the message of the Quran, because the Quran itself claims perfection. It is the final, perfect word of God, not subject to continuing revelation or human interpretation.

Also, since you're into numbers and all, that'd be about 950 million that I've slandered, not 1.9 billion. Actually MUCH less when you get down to it being primarily ARAB Islamic MEN I talked about. (Reading is almost as important as math.)

Some reading I recommend: The Arab Mind by Raphael Patai. I found it invaluable insight during my 2.5 years in Iraq. Another one, a little tougher and more scholarly/dense: A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani.

In case it really needs saying: I don't hate all muslims, not even the men. I think the ideology is hate-filled and negative. I think it is the most dangerous ideology to civilization and human progress on the planet today, surpassing communism, and that really means something to me. But I think that individuals can overcome that. Primarily by rejecting the stupidity and violence inherent in Islam.

Roberta X said...

In Islam, or in the surrounding culture?

I'm not a real big fan of any religion or the lack thereof but unless you are willing to run internment/re-education/death camps that is not the point.

For any given value of "them" -- Muslim, gay, darker or lighter of skin, liberal, conservative, commie or fascist, whatever, they're here. We gotta deal with 'em and for all such groups except those who initiate force, most of "them" are not a problem in civil society.

Those who initiate force are a problem and Larry is correct about narcissism as it relates to mass shooters; an example much closer to home is George Sodini, the Pennsylvania man who shot up a women's gym class.

If -- and evidence appears to support that if -- elements of Islamic culture, which includes a lot of junk not actually required in religious observance, do foster greater narcissism say, Western culture, why, yes, that's a problem. It is not, however, a problem with a quick, easy or simple fix; it calls for revamping a culture, and that is very slow and uncertain. "The Long War" is fought with burgers as much as bullets, with movies and music along with mortars and if the only place you see a front line is where things are blowing up, you are missing most of the battle.

At any given point, the sword is louder than the pen. Over the long run of history, the pen is nevertheless mightier.

Spree shooters -- any spree shooter -- is a problem. So we had one who is a Muslim; line him up with the two Asian guys, the Jewish guy, the pair of Black guys and that looooooong list of white guys from the last decade and it sure looks like the problem isn't religion, it's jerks who think they otta be way more important than they are -- and it's compounded by the victim-disarmament zones that make their results so much more awful.

These guys happen. Screw them -- the thing we can control is being able to stop them fast and doom them to the back pages. Of course, that takes hard work; it's a lot easier to pick an identifiable group, blame 'em for a problem caused by some members of the group and then...? Then WHAT? Having misidentified the target, what spavined idiocy shall we follow it with?

Whatever it is, include me out. History doesn't show me any good outcome.

This is why I'm an anarchist.

Larry said...

Islam is largely inseperable from the Arab culture. I think it's possible to dilute it somewhat further from the epicenter, but Islam allows no boundaries between secular and religious. This is something that took Christianity a long time to develop, even though it is explicit in certain teachings. Islam rejects that. Arab culture is so heavily influenced by Islam and vice versa, I don't honestly know if the two can be seperated. Certainly not in a single generation.

Islam exports Arab culture with it. The "only true copies" of the Quran are in Arabic. Many Muslims in non-Arab cultures learn it by rote and don't really understand it. So is that a seperation/dilution of Islam from Arab culture or is an importation of Arab culture along with Islam?

The incidence of non-Islamic Arabs is so small as to be difficult to detect among the noise. Certainly other cultures practice Islam somewhat differently- The Turks are the most notable exception to theocratic rule of an Islamic country. But their culture was always a bit more cosmopolitan than the Arabs due to position, even when the Arabs were great traders and sailors.

Palestine has a significant but still small number of Arab Christians.

I see it as a two-pronged fork. Both Arab culture and Islam are inferior frameworks to base a worldview on, IMO. The two combined are a nightmare.

staghounds said...

He did pretty well as a "terrorist", traitor, enemy soldier, insurgent, or what have you. Took out a platoon all by himself, and cost us millions in direct costs. If some Grman major had done this in 1943, we'd call him a hero.

I'd also argue that he cut our active troop strength by a brigade or two.