Bringing out the worst in small, sad minds

BRINGING OUT THE WORST IN SMALL, SAD MINDS…. On “Fox & Friends” this morning, the hosts speculated about the need for “special screenings” of Muslim officers in the U.S. military. It follows a certain child-like reasoning — Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan went on a deadly rampage yesterday, shooting 43 people. Hasan is Muslim. Therefore, Muslims in uniform may be untrustworthy.

Soon after, Allen West, a top recruit of the National Republican Congressional Committee in Florida, announced his belief that, in light of the Fort Hood tragedy, the “enemy is infiltrating our military.” West, one of 32 new members of the NRCC “Young Guns” program a congressional candidate in the Miami area next year, added, “Our soldiers are being brainwashed.”

Now, at this point, we have no idea what led a 14-veteran of the U.S. Army to commit such a heinous crime, but there’s a frightening ease with which too many conservatives embrace bigotry like this.

Spencer Ackerman gets this exactly right.

To make a point no one should have to make: earlier this year, a deranged Army sergeant named John Russell opened fire near a combat stress clinic — sound familiar? — at Baghdad’s Camp Liberty and killed five of his fellow soldiers. No one speculated about any religious motivations. No one suggested he was part of an enemy “infiltration,” or suggested that U.S. troops have been “brainwashed.” Everyone understood that Russell was a deranged lunatic, not an advance scout for a conspiracy to subvert the military internally. It’s funny how double standards work.

Actually, no. It’s disgusting.

A tragic part of American life is that, from time to time, we learn of horrific shootings like the one at Fort Hood yesterday. There was, apparently, another shooting this morning, this time in Orlando, in which one was killed and seven were critically wounded. The gunman wasn’t a Muslim.

Likewise, last year, 32 people were shot down in Virginia Tech. In March, 10 were killed in a shooting rampage in Alabama. In April, 13 were killed in upstate New York. In each instance, the gunmen weren’t Muslim.

It’s been 24 hours since the violence began at Fort Hood. Can we wait just a little while before jumping to conclusions and making baseless allegations about Americans who haven’t done anything wrong?