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Don't Jump to Conclusions Because Hasan is Muslim

By Errol Louis, New York Daily News - November 15, 2009

Even as America struggles to understand the Fort Hood massacre, right-wingers have embarked on a dangerous, dishonest campaign to blame the atrocity on "political correctness" - as if the very idea of tolerance and diversity in the U.S. armed forces is the crucial ingredient that allowed a madman to commit mass murder.

That's wrong. It's un-American. And extremist calls to subject Muslims to heightened scrutiny due solely to their religion are downright dangerous.

There's a lot we don't know about the massacre at Fort Hood; from the very start, even basic facts have been a moving target.

Early reports claimed the shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan, had been killed (he wasn't).

The base officer said to have fired on Hasan was first identified as civilian Sgt. Kimberly Munley, who was praised as a hero. But later reports suggest that another police officer, Senior Sgt. Mark Todd of the Killeen Police Department, fired the shots that stopped Hasan.

Hasan's conversations, e-mails or other exchanges with Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric, remain a matter of speculation that will become clearer as his court-martial proceeds.

But a lack of facts hasn't stopped the ideologues.

"It is time, I suggest, to stop the practice of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military," writes Bryan Fischer, director of issues analysis for the American Family Association, a far-right Christian group that owns and operates 200 radio stations and claims to have 2 million supporters.

"As soon as Muslims give us a foolproof way to identify their jihadis from their moderates, we'll go back to allowing them to serve," says Fischer. "It's time we all got over the nonsense that all cultures and religions are equally valid or worthy. They most certainly are not."

Equally offensive anti-Muslim slurs come courtesy of Tunku Varadarajan, a professor at NYU's Stern School of Business, writing on Forbes.com.

"We must ask whether we are confronting a new phenomenon of violent rage, one we might dub - disconcertingly - 'Going Muslim,'" writes Varadarajan. "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. President Obama was as craven as a community college diversity vice-president when he said that no one should jump to conclusions."

Now there's the sort of fellow we want preparing the next generation of global business leaders.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut did his part to leap over the facts, pronouncing the Fort Hood murders the result of "Islamist extremism" and announcing hearings on the matter that will, no doubt, support his predetermined conclusion.

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