Yesterday’s entry on ideas and their consequences suggests a further thought on Major Nidal Hasan. Is Hasan a “terrorist”? Or as I’d prefer to say, a traitor turned enemy combatant?
I’ve long been irritated by the idea, frequently heard from conservatives, that America is or should be engaged in a “war with radical Islam,” a “war against Islamism,” or the like. You hear this from talk-radio guys (e.g. Hugh Hewitt), activist-journalists (David Horowitz), and all the way on up to towering, pointy intellects like Charles Krauthammer (who, come to think of it, also scorns any critique of Darwinism).
If the phrase were accurate — as opposed to the more reasonable formulation that we are engaged in a war with radical Muslim terrorists — it would mean that we are obliged to carry the battle to every mosque and Muslim home where “radical Muslims” may be found, demanding their surrender or destruction.
Accurate or inaccurate, the idea has had consequences. Major Hasan believed that the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan is fighting “a war with radical Islam.” On that, he would see eye-to-eye with Krauthammer or Horowitz. He’s also an adherent of radical Islam. So given the pair of premises, what did you expect him to do?
Try switching perspectives for a moment. You’re a German soldier about to be deployed by Hitler in the invasion of Poland. For whatever reason, you have an awakening of conscience. Let’s say you’ve read Mein Kampf and have some inkling of what Hitler may have in mind for Poland’s Jews. What would you do? Put down your weapon, refuse to fight, and accept the consequences from your military superiors?
That would be one honorable option. Or maybe you’d turn your gun on your fellow soldiers? Given our own premises, that Nazism is evil, and our retrospective knowledge that invading Poland was a key prelude to the Holocaust in which even Hilter’s ordinary soldiers played a supporting role, would you still reject such an action as “terrorism”?