I checked out Christopher Hitchens’s weekly column on Slate.com this evening hoping to catch a reaction to the Obama administration’s decision to (all together now!) try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other 9/11 conspirators in civilian court. But alas, no. Even the great Hitchens can’t be expected to turn around an article so fast, not without sacrificing a few quality scotch-drinking hours. Fortunately, his latest column pertains to a somewhat related topic, the warning signs leading up to the shooting at Fort Hood, and how they relate to the Muslim faith of the perpetrator, Major Nidal Hasan. Hitchens lists seven facts about Hasan prior to the shooting that should have triggered a few alarms, and then goes on to say,
What about the emphasis on Hasan’s supposedly knife-edge mental state? Well, even supposing it to have been precarious, it can hardly have been improved by immersion in the rantings of Anwar al-Awlaki. I do not say that all practitioners of woman-hating, anti-Semitic, sadomasochistic suicide immolations are themselves insane, but I do say that the teaching itself is demented. In the same way, I do not say that all Muslims are terrorists, but I have noticed that an alarmingly high proportion of terrorists are Muslim. A paranoid or depressive person—of whom we have many millions in our midst—does not have to end up screaming religious slogans while butchering his fellow creatures. But a paranoid or depressive person who is in regular touch with a jihadist “spiritual leader” is presented with a ready-made script that offers him paradise in exchange for homicide. . . .
. . . I wrote some years ago that the three most salient characteristics of the Muslim death-squad type were self-righteousness, self-pity, and self-hatred. Surrounded as he was by fellow shrinks who were often very distressed by his menacing manner, Maj. Hasan managed to personify all three traits — with the theocratic rhetoric openly thrown in for good measure — and yet be treated even now as if the real word for him was troubled. Prepare to keep on meeting those three symptoms again, along with official attempts to oppose them only with therapy, if that. At least the holy warriors know they are committing suicide.When I heard that Hasan had cried out “Allahu akbar!” as he shot up the clinic, my response was to shake my head and say to myself, “Great, you just had to say that, didn’t you? You couldn’t just be a random nut, nooooooo . . .” I get the feeling Hitchens’s reaction was more of a self-satisfied smirk and a “See? What have I been trying to tell you people?” But of course, Hitchens would have the exact same reaction to news of a Christian zealot committing an identical crime. And that’s why I love the man.