Muslims & America: Is Islam on trial?

 New York Times headline Is Islam on trial?

It seems so, based on reactions to the shootings at Ft. Hood. Once Major Nadil Malik Hasan, a Muslim American, was formally charged last week with premeditated murder, we now have a face—and a possible religious motivation—to focus on.

Just about every news program I watched followed the same formal pattern—like set pieces in a staged drama.

The formula was quite simple: Call a Muslim American leader or spokesperson on the carpet, demanding an explanation and some sort of public apology. “Called on the carpet” is an especially appropriate expression here. It means that an inferior (who has an uncarpeted office) has been called to the superior’s carpeted office for a reprimand.
 Detroit Free Press headline    

These televised dramas are not unexpected. But they feed the first of two narratives I described last week—where a case like this becomes an occasion to ask (again) questions about the place of Muslims in America and in the American military. They divert attention from a second possible narrative: The questions we should be asking about the ethical principles that shape our military policies and the costs of asking our troops to return again and again to the theatre of war.

The case of Major Nadil Malik Hasan, then, has two sides to it: Was he a “stressed solider” who spiraled out of control? Or, was he—if not literally, then figuratively—a “terrorist” on American shores?

This week on, we’ll continue to explore this unfolding drama. Tomorrow we’ll explore a question that has been raised by a Muslim American: What is “100% American”?

Join the conversation and let us know what you think! This is such an important dialogue in our country right now—your comment can make a difference.

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