Tuesday, November 10, 2009

David Brooks' Therapy

I like David Brooks very much and find that he is one of the more thoughtful commentators, left or right, on the commentariat. I think he actually tries to get things right and to struggle with difficult issues. As much I like Brooks, I found his latest commentary on Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, quite wanting and much too facile.

Brooks' basic argument is that Hasan suffered from a particular brand of Muslim extremism and evil but the media, in its attempt to be sensitive to Muslims and to limit the public backlash against Muslims, played down. Instead of ascribing the actions of Hasan to evil, specifically of the radical Muslim variety, we made excuses for him, "there was a national rush to therapy."

But I think Brooks is wrong, profoundly so. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting few facts were available. We knew that a lone gunman who was both a therapist and a Muslim murdered about a dozen individuals and wounded at least two dozens. We did not have any information that he was associated with Al Qaeda or any religious extremist group. Had we reached for the familiar stereotype of radical evil Muslims who are jealous of our way of life and thus seek to destroy America from within, we would be encouraging the "great mass of unwashed yahoos in Middle America" to "go off on a racist rampage." For once, the media did the right thing.

Leaving all of that aside, the explanation that Brooks offers is what got us into two wars in the first place. I don't understand how Hasan is any different from Timothy McVeigh or John Allan Muhamad. Blaming Hasan's actions on the evil of radical Islam is facile, too facile. Brooks is usually better than that.

No comments:

Post a Comment