The Ft. Hood Shooter and the Dual Loyalty Question


As has been noted, too much of the commentary on the Fort Hood shooting has avoided the fairly obvious, albeit very politically incorrect, explanation. Clearly Hasan, who yelled ‘Allah akhbar’ during the killings, was murdering out of jihadist-fundamentalist intent. These were the same last words heard from Flight 93 over Pennsylvania. Given that the US has a Muslim population of at least 2 million (the data are hotly contested), it is hardly unlikely that all US Muslims remain untempted by the binladenist call. In fact, given Europe’s thorny problems with jihadism, it is remarkable how little of this has happened in the US.

This does not mean, of course, that all Muslims are radicals or that some sort of ‘green scare’ is necessary or whatever. But that is a straw man used to deflect serious discussion. We should also not use ‘islamophobia’ as a racist slur to prevent a serious investigation of Hasan’s motives and a national discussion about the integration process that so spectacularly failed in his case. If anything, the initial US reaction was so adamantly worried about this possibility, that the analysis, for all its good intentions, has obviously missed the real reason. It is politically correct to suggest stress and syndromes and such, but it is also rather dishonest.

Hasan actually fits a fairly well-known profile of Muslim bombers and fanatics who have emerged from the West. They feel deeply alienated by the GWoT. They worry that it targets Muslims, not terrorists, and that the GWoT is really a Judeo-Christian crusade against Islam. They feel deep conflict between their ties of citizenship and religion. Frequently they are socially isolated, and their vague discontent is catalyzed and metastasized by some radical cleric or website. Olivier Roy has done a lot of good work on the alienation Muslims living in the West feel, and how that alienation can drive extreme cases into terrorism. Try here and here. This profile fits the 9/11 hijackers, the Scottish airport assailants, and the London bombers.

The issue we seem to loathe finger for multicultural PC reasons is the ‘dual loyalty’ problem, but it so clearly obvious here that it cries out for discussion. It should be blindingly obvious that most people hold multiple identities or roles and that these will conflict. They do so in our lives everyday. Our roles as professionals at work collide with our responsibilities to our families. But if we apply this strikingly obvious logic to race/religion/nationality questions, it simply becomes taboo in US.

Because the US is an immigrant country, this logic creates terrible tensions. So we have admirably tried to ignore it, but turning away doesn’t mean it goes away. Indeed, what softens that dual loyalty problem is integration over time – the Americanization that comes from living in the US for several generations. Just about everyone’s grandmother gets off the boat with deep ties to the Old Country. The parents straddle the Old and New Country with proficiency in both languages. The grandkids don’t speak the old language at all, indulging only silly multicultural fantasies of ‘finding their roots,’ even though anyone from the Old Country would immediately tag them as an American. By the great-grandkid’s generations, the Old Country is a misty myth, and the great-grandkid’s spouse is likely to be of another ethnicity anyway. Hence, Americanization.

As Samuel Huntington notes, the requirements of US citizenship are comparatively light. This means just about anyone can join the US national community. It also ensures a certain level of cultural frisson that simply would not be tolerated in many other countries. Clearly simply handing someone a flag or a driver’s license does not insure Americanization, nor, does even the military uniform of Hasan (a great surprise, that, actually). Far more likely is time and sociality. Mixing, learning, speaking the language, interaction, slowly wears away the sharp conflict of identities and helps each individual informally reconcile possibly competing loyalties.

Islam however does raise particular issues of integration, as Islam frequently defines itself as a ‘way of life,’ rather than simply a ‘go-to-service-on-the-weekend’ religion that most Americans profess. Insofar as Islam indulges totalist visions of religion as an all-encompassing lifestyle, the pluralism and tolerance necessary for living in the West may not come easy. (For a similar problem, consider the unique status of the Amish.) This seems to be Europe’s great problem. America’s Muslims seem to have made their peace with pluralism better. That needs to be explained; there is a good dissertation there.

1 thought on “The Ft. Hood Shooter and the Dual Loyalty Question

  1. NPR reported this today. An evaluation on Major Hasan from back in 2007. When he was sent to Ft. Hood, this report was sent to his command.

    Would a white supremist have been tolorated for so long? The Homeland Security Department published a report on the radicalization of disaffected troops by white supremist organizations The US Army needs to pruge unfit troops from its ranks, period, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.

    When you join the US military you should know what you are getting into. You raise your hand and swear to the US Constitution, not, Nazism, Islamic fundamentalism, Christianity, etc. If someone is unsure of their loyalty to the US, why would they join? Ah, I forgot, for the educational benefits.

    [Editor’s Note: This is a transcript of the memo obtained by NPR. It is not a facsimile or PDF of the actual document.]
    National Capital Consortium
    Psychiatry Residency Program
    Borden Pavilion, Walter Reed Army Medical Center
    Bldg.6, Rm. 2059, 6900 Georgia Ave, NW
    Washington DC, 20307-5001
    Consortium Participating Instructions: Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, National Naval Medical Center, Malcolm Grow USAF Medical Center
    May 17, 2007
    Memorandum for: Credentials Committee
    Subject: CPT Nidal Hasan
    1. I am the program director for NCC Psychiatry Residency Training Program. I took over as PD in MAR 2007 and was Assistant PD from July 2006. I have been a faculty member of the residency since July 2004.
    2. This memo is based on my personal knowledge of and the documented incidences in CPT Hasan’s Resident Training File.
    3. The Faculty has serious concerns about CPT Hasan’s professionalism and work ethic. Clinically he is competent to deliver safe patient care. But he demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism. In his PGY-2 year, he was counseled for inappropriately discussing religious topics with his assigned patients. He also required a period of in-program remediation when he was discovered to have not documented appropriately an ER encounter with a homicidal patient who subsequently eloped from the ER. He did successfully remediate this problem. At the end of his PGY-2 year, he was placed on administrative probation by the NCC GMEC for failure to take and pass USMLE Step 3 and to obtain an unrestricted state medical license by the end of his PGY-2 year; as a result he was not promoted to PGY-3 on time. He did eventually complete step 3 and get a license and was promoted to PGY-3. He was counseled for having a poor record of attendance at didactics and lower than expected PRITE scores. One year he failed to show for his PRITE examination at all. During his PGY-3 year, he was counseled for being consistently late to NNMC morning report. During his PGY-4 year, he was discovered to have only seen 30 outpatients in 38 week of outpatient continuity clinic. He was required to make this missed clinic time up using his elective. He failed his HGT/WGT screening and was found to be out of standards with body fat % and was counseled on that.
    Lastly, he missed a night of call for MGMC ER and then did not respond to numerous pages by my office the next day.
    4. Take together; these issues demonstrate a lack of professionalism and work ethics. He is able to self-correct with supervision. However, at this point he should not need so much supervision. In spite of all of this, I am not able to say he is not competent to graduate nor do I think a period of academic probation now at the end of his training will be beneficial. He would be able to contain his behavior enough to complete any period of probation successfully. My purpose in writing this letter is to give the credentials committee the benefit of full disclosure and the opportunity to modify CPT Hasan’s plan of supervision following initial privileging.
    5. I did discuss this memo with CPT Hasan and informed him I would be adding it to his initial credentialing paperwork.
    6. POC is the undersigned and may be reached at 202-XXX-XXXX or email at XXX/
    Scott Moran, MAJ, MC
    Program Director
    NCC Psychiatry Residency Training


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