Cynical Synapse

Fri, 09 Dec 2011

Workplace Violence is Bigger than Islamist Extremism

Filed under: Congress, Deceit, Good job, Government, Hypocrits, Islamophobia, Media, Military, Politics, Terrorism — cynicalsynapse @ 5:37 pm

Rep. Peter Kane (R-NY)

Propaganda is propaganda and fabrications are fabrications. The blogosphere has come alive with claims DoD and the White House labeled the Fort Hood Massacre simple workplace violence. Normally, I would be very quick to jump on this bandwagon of apparent political correctness run amok. As it turns out, however, this is a politically-motivated twisting facts to create a sound bite by the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY-6) wanted so bad to have Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Security Stockton admit the biggest threat is “radical Islamist extremists”. While agreeing on the need for vigilance and increased security, Stockton said, “The threat we are discussing is serious and enduring. The Department of Defense has become their target of choice.” Consider the following exchange, which brings to mind the Inquisition, where Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA-3) practically waterboards Asst. Sec. Stockton:

REP. LUNGREN: I didn’t ask that — I did not ask that, sir. I asked whether we’re at war with violent Islamist extremism. That’s my question.

MR. STOCKTON: No, we’re at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates.

REP. LUNGREN: Well, al-Qaida — how does al-Qaida define itself? Are they dedicated to violent Islamist extremism?

MR. STOCKTON: Al-Qaida would love to convince Muslims around the world that the United States is at war with Islam.

REP. LUNGREN: I didn’t say that.

MR. STOCKTON: That’s a prime propaganda tool.

REP. LUNGREN: Sir —

MR. STOCKTON: And I’m not going to aid and abet that effort to advance their propaganda goal.

REP. LUNGREN: No, no, my question is, is there a difference between Islam and violent Islamist extremism?

MR. STOCKTON: Sir, with great respect, I don’t believe it’s helpful to frame our adversary as Islamic with any set of qualifiers that we might add, because we are not at war with Islam.

Capt. Humayun Kuhn's grave marker

While homegrown, self-radicalized jihadists are certainly a concern, they’re not the only ones who kill servicemembers or their families. The January 2010 Department of Defense report, Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood, took a holistic approach. The report identified DoD’s need to improve its posture concerning all types of internal threats—what civilian organizations call “workplace violence”—not just al Qaeda wannabes. Defense Secretary Robert Gates directed the military to implement Fort Hood recommendations in August 2010. His memorandum referenced both workplace violence and force protection.

It is interesting to note the Pentagon’s report on the Fort Hood shootings never once mentions radical Islamists and only uses the word “terrorist” in the context of muti-agency information sharing and expanding current Army force protection training. It does refer to “workplace violence” in several recommendations, however. How is it that wasn’t a problem almost 2 years ago when the report came out but it is now? Could it be, oh, I don’t know, election season?

Fort Hood east gate

In their desires to politicize the Fort Hood tragedy, Collins and King miss the fact DoD has implemented 43 recommendations from the Fort Hood report, with another 15 to be implemented by March 2012. In what seems to be a rarity, we have a government agency addressing identified issues, but Congress wants to beat them down because they’re not blaming the right bogeyman. Collins, King, et al, are on a witch hunt and Stockton won’t play along. Even worse, they have no care or concern for non-Islamist threats. Ranking minority House Homeland Security Committee member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2) expressed concern about the Committee’s direction.

Focusing on the followers of one religion as the only credible threat to this nation’s security is inaccurate, narrow, and blocks consideration of emerging threats.


 

Tue, 13 Sep 2011

How Not to Be an Islamophobe

Filed under: Afghanistan, Behavior, Global War on Terror, Iraq, Islamophobia, Military — cynicalsynapse @ 8:34 pm
US, Afghan forces greet kidsU.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lauren Everett, medic attached to Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team, greets a group of children in Alisheng district, Laghman province, Sept. 12. The PRT, partnered with the security forces assistant team and the Afghan National Police, patrolled through a village to talk to the locals and teach the ANP proper procedures during patrols.
Defense Video and Image Distribution System (DVIDS)

An excellent post from Attackerman: first, be a combat veteran:

What follows is pure and unadulterated speculation. I can’t prove what I’m about to contend. I have no data, no studies, no statistically-relevant sample. Just anecdotes and a hunch.

The least Islamophobic cohort in American society — except of course, for Muslims themselves — consists of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans between the ages of 25 and 40.

I’m basing this entirely on my interactions with combat vets over the years — both downrange and back here in the States. It would be easy — lazy, even — to expect them to harbor blood-curdling hatred of Muslims. The insurgents they fought deliberately blended in with the populace, after all.

Some of them came to war harboring precisely such hatred. They wanted to avenge 9/11, and the average Iraqi or Afghan would do. Not all did, but it would be a whitewash to ignore that some did. I had a long and mournful conversation with one such officer in Mosul in 2007.

Then something unexpected happened. They got familiar with Afghans and Iraqis. “Local nationals” translated for them. They met with local dignitaries and heard plaintive cries for help. They heard locals express bitterness and outrage over the million indignities of war. They found themselves understanding. Then sympathizing. Then wanting to help.

And then they found something more powerful than sympathy: mutual interest. They learned that they couldn’t do anything significant in their unfamiliar stretches of a foreign country without the aid — or at least the acquiescence, or apathy — of the locals. A choice between working together or failing was no choice at all.

Some even made friends. Iraqis and Afghans, especially those who work as interpreters or intelligence analysts, often have wonderfully vile and profane senses of humor. (In my experience, this is truer for Iraqis than Afghans, but not unheard-of for Afghans, either.) A dirty joke, a bullshit boast and an unspeakably nasty DVD or video game can bond people in warzones for life.

Suddenly, those same Americans who barely even knew any Muslims back home — didn’t know that Allah is just the Arabic word for the exact same God many of them worship — wanted to know more about Iraqi or Afghan culture. It didn’t seem so unfamiliar; or if it did, it was the kind of unfamiliarity that posed an appealing challenge to understand. They wanted to debate about the world with the locals, and didn’t even mind when the locals debated back and challenged basic points about America.

Some came home and kept up a correspondence with their new friends. Some took classes about the Middle East or South Asia to contextualize their experience. Some didn’t come home at all.

Obviously, there are exceptions here. I have no illusion that this a universal experience of two searing wars. I know combat veterans who have neither love nor hate in their hearts for Muslims, just… emptiness.

But ever since last year’s “Ground Zero Mosque” flap, it’s struck me that the Robert Spencers and the Pamela Gellars and the lot of them don’t have their stock veterans to trot out in service of the idea that the mosque down the street is a threat to your grandmother. I do not believe that is an accident.

Most non-Muslim Americans don’t have many interactions with their Muslim neighbors. Or if they do, it’s not an issue. I grew up in Brooklyn, one of the most diverse places in the U.S., and it only occurred to me after 9/11 that one of the members of my high school crew was a Muslim. Combat veterans had perhaps the most self-conscious familiarity with Iraqis and Afghans of all Americans. They had no other option.

And many, if not most, came home understanding that Muslims aren’t so different. Muslims don’t have heat vision. They’re not implacably opposed to freedom and all that shit. They’re not looking to join a terrorist group, and “proto-terrorism” doesn’t lurk in their hearts.

Like I said, I can’t prove any of this. It’s all anecdotal. But the more I think about it, the truer it seems. I can’t think of anyone who came home from Iraq or Afghanistan more furious at the average Muslim, which is perhaps of the most surprising and profound aspects of the 9/11 Era.

HT: Doctine Man!!

Previously on Islamophobia:

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