Back in the 1970s, I was a soldier, and most of the time, I did not carry a weapon: I had one, yes, and I knew where it was, and if the commander decided I needed it at that moment, it would be issued to me, but most of the time, it was out of reach. I mention this in case you might be thinking that the general lack of armed individuals at an Army post, fercrissake, might seem somehow anomalous. (Besides, the more often you used that weapon, the more often you had to clean it, and I suspect even the most dedicated gunsmith might get bored with maintaining an M16A1.) That said, though, the mere fact that a policy existed for however many decades does not, ipso facto, make it a good policy, especially now when civilians in the more-enlightened areas of the country are now carrying, just in case. (I hasten to add that there are no doubt civilians in the less-enlightened areas of the country who are now carrying, just in case, and contrary to the doctrine of the Oooh, Guns Are Bad Club, they present no threat to the rest of us.)

Which may or may not be why I see the Fort Hood incident as less about jihad and more about a nutcase run amok: it is all very well and good to rail about the baleful influence of Islam the Religion of Peace obviously didn't make this guy any more peaceful but the results would likely have been the same had the Major been aligned with some other school of fossilized pseudothought. Roberta X sees it somewhat similarly:

As it happens, I'm no fan of a faith with many adherents who claim it says I gotta dress like a sleeping bag and can't have a real job; but in this country, you can believe any idiotic thing you want, as long as you don't force others to do so, too. This is actually an important concept, one we fiddle with at our peril.

Looky, spree shooters are a problem. Grotty little bastards who wanna be important, who want attention they don't deserve, who go armed into disarmed-victim zones (yeah, "no guns," what a swell idea) and shoot up people who are just going about their lives, they are a problem.

And so is puffing them up into something they're not. In the last ten years, the spree killers in the United States have included at least two different flavors of racist, one whacko who couldn't get a date, and scads of other half-wit causes.

Scratch a holy warrior, find a self-centered dipshit. You'd be surprised how often this works, until you'd done it yourself a couple of times.

And no, you can't profile for this. Not effectively, anyway:

"Precrime" is fiction and if you haven't figured out that "thoughtcrime" is the short bus to FAIL, you have not been paying attention. Planned or impulsive, they are mad dogs among us and the important thing isn't understanding why they are foaming at the mouth, they all think they have got some excuse; the important thing, the vital thing, is stopping them as soon as possible.

And the only way do that is to have a greater leavening of people who understand that such things do happen, who have thought about it and are "armed" with the determination to stop it.

Not at all incidentally, an armed society, said Robert A. Heinlein, is a polite society. Our much-decried lack of "civility" is due almost entirely to the utter lack of consequences for the uncivil, and don't think they don't know it.

And "armed," in this context, doesn't necessarily mean with sidearms: if you can get close enough, there are lots of ways to bring down an attacker. But Step One must always be to bring him down, and if your agenda doesn't say exactly that, you shouldn't be in charge of the operation.

This is not to minimize the threat posed by an increasingly irritable and intractable Islam. But I persist in thinking that when you find someone bleeding in the street, first you stop the bleeding; you can worry about things like triglyceride levels later. Whether or not the Major met the technical definition of jihadi became relevant only after the immediate threat was neutralized. And as Roberta points out:

Major Hasan is a Muslim. He shot up a bunch of people who were doing him no harm. One of those things is inherently evil. Can you guess which?

There may be some room for discussion on the former; no such room exists for the latter.

The Vent

  8 November 2009

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 Copyright © 2009 by Charles G. Hill