Fear of Muslims and Fear of Bigotry
Reactions to Fort Hood Killings
The tragedy at Fort Hood last week raised many fears among Christian political advocacy groups. For some groups the shooting provoked a fear of a Muslim "fifth column" in the military. For others groups it provoked a fear of anti-Muslim backlash in the American populace.
One plea for tolerance and restraint came from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The NAE called for both prayer and "stronger relationships of understanding and reconciliation."
"A tragedy caused by the act of one individual should not be compounded by generalizing actions to a culture, ethnicity or religion," said Paul Vicalvi, executive director of the NAE Chaplains Commission. "We should be clear: The actions of this one man do not reflect the beliefs or values of the vast majority of American Muslims."
As evidence for the these values, Faith in Public life listed denouncements from prominent Islamic groups including the Islamic Society of North America, Council on American-Islamic Relations, and American Society of Muslim Advancement.
Albert Mohler discussed the complexity of balancing religious freedom and the unique demands of the military.
"The U.S. Armed Forces should make every effort to accommodate the religious beliefs and convictions of its personnel," he said. "That is what we owe to those who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms. But they owe the entire nation—and first of all their fellow soldiers—the commitments of loyalty, obedience, respect, and protection. The military cannot accommodate any belief system that undermines those commitments."
Although Major Hasan's religious beliefs appear to have motivated his actions, Mohler said, "it is not fair to generalize Major Hasan's actions to the entire Muslim community."
Pat Robertson, however, said Hasan's actions show that Muslims should be barred from service.
"If we don't stop covering up what Islam is—Islam is a violent—I was going to say religion, but it's not a religion, it's a political system, a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination. That is the ultimate aim," Robertson said on Monday's 700 Club broadcast. "And I think we should treat it as such, and treat its adherents as such, as we would members of the Communist Party or members of some fascist group."
On Tuesday's broadcast, Robertson blamed political correctness in the military for the shooting.
"We don't dare speak out against somebody who's of the Muslim faith. Of course Muslims can serve in the Armed Forces; of course radical Muslims from Al Qaeda and others can come into our secret services; of course they can. We can't discriminate against anybody. That's nonsense. A society deserves the right to protect itself," he said.
But wouldn't eliminating Muslims from the military severely limit the availability of Arabic translators and personnel familiar with Middle East culture? On the 700 Club's Veterans Day broadcast, "terrorism analyst" Erick Stakelbeck said the need could be met by recruiting Christians and Jews from the Middle East. "We can use them without always turning to Muslims," he concluded.
Robertson was not alone in blaming political correctness for the tragedy. "The Left would have us believe that political correctness never killed anyone," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC). "But there are 13 fresh graves in Fort Hood, Texas to prove them wrong."
Bryan Fischer, director of issues analysis for the American Family Association (AFA), also argued that all Muslims should be barred from the U.S. military.