David Brooks' column in this morning's New York Times highlights a key difference between Conservatives and Liberals.
When Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan did that in Fort Hood, Tex., last week, many Americans had an understandable and, in some ways, admirable reaction. They didn’t want the horror to become a pretext for anti-Muslim bigotry.
So immediately the coverage took on a certain cast. The possibility of Islamic extremism was immediately played down. This was an isolated personal breakdown, not an ideological assault, many people emphasized.
The conversation in the first few days after the massacre was well intentioned, but it suggested a willful flight from reality. It ignored the fact that the war narrative of the struggle against Islam is the central feature of American foreign policy. It ignored the fact that this narrative can be embraced by a self-radicalizing individual in the U.S. as much as by groups in Tehran, Gaza or Kandahar.
It denied, before the evidence was in, the possibility of evil. It sought to reduce a heinous act to social maladjustment. It wasn’t the reaction of a morally or politically serious nation.
David Brooks sees viewing Marjor Hasan's murderous rampage as part of a global battle between us and Islam as realistic and "serious," but how realistic, serious and mature is that way of viewing the world? It is particularly troubling that he says the struggle is with Islam itself and not "extremist Islam" or "fundamentalist Islam." Furthermore what course of action does the Conservative view suggest? Measures to reduce the psychological stress on our military of multiple deployments, a course of action suggested by the main-stream way of viewing the tragedy, would be a useless diversion from the fundamental problem according to the Conservatives. It is hard to see how anything other than taking military action against someone or something would be effective when the world is seen in David Brooks' "serious" way.
Update An email I just got from a local conservative alerts me that my sentence structure in the above may have been a little convoluted, making my meaning less than clear, at least to some people. I am very anti-war. I think all the troops should be brought home immediately. The problem with the Conservatives like David Brooks and those who think like him is that viewing the killings at Fort Hood as being part of a global struggle against Islam (rather than viewing it as what happens when soldiers are placed under too much stress) leaves them their only option for trying to do something to prevent a reoccurance is attacking someone or something militarily -- which I think is a horrible idea. Is that clearer?