American Faces/Enemy Faces: Is our “vision” shifting in a new era of war?

 

 Major Nidal Malik Hasan
This week, we’re looking backward at historic milestones—like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. We’re also looking forward at new concepts in warfare and in veterans’ lives after they leave the service. (Take a moment and scroll down through this week’s stories. You’ve probably never heard of the Contagious Love Experiment or the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, both profiled below.)
   
In many ways, we are living through a turning-point in history—and the killings at Fort Hood are another sign of the very difficult questions that lie ahead of us. Many Americans are asking, once more, whether the war has returned to American shores.
   

Yesterday, Major Nadil Malik Hasan was formally charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder at Fort Hood. We’ve moved from our collective focus on mourning and celebrating heroes in this tragic incident to focusing on the crime and the alleged criminal.
   
One narrative that lies ahead of us goes like this: This officer was a Muslim and some elements of his faith were among the handle holds he grasped as his life spiraled out of control. The question we should be asking, once again, is: What is the place of Muslims in America? And Muslims in the military? (I say “once again,” because this is not the first time that news events have thrust Muslims under a public microscope.)
   
Another narrative that lies ahead of us goes like this: This officer was in dire need of professional intervention. Thousands of men and women are suffering in a pressure cooker of seemingly endless tours of duty. The question we should be asking is: What are the ethical principles that can guide us in reshaping our military policies? Are we trying to wage war on the cheap? At the cost of our own men and women?
    Which narrative do you see dominating news media in the weeks ahead?
   
Will this horrific event—and the glut of media attention around the alleged shooter’s case—erect new walls of suspicion and hostility with our Muslim neighbors?

I’d like to hear your thoughts this weekend. Please, leave a comment on these questions.
    As a researcher and co-author in studies of Arab-American life (which often includes our Muslim communities), I’m well aware of the looming dangers if the first narrative dominates headlines.
    Next week on OurValues.org, we’ll explore some of these issues. How are Muslim Americans reacting? How do other Americans view Muslims in America? Will American values be tested in the process?

 

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