By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
Muslim American groups are struggling with a possible backlash over the Fort Hood tragedy, even more so today than on Thursday as new details, and additional speculation, about the suspected shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, emerge.
A devote Muslim, Hasan was reported to have shouted "God is great" in Arabic as he allegedly opened fire. Causing, for some, a rush to judgment about motivations still not - and - depending on his medical prognosis and level of cooperation if he survives - possibly never known.
The incident doesn't just have Muslims worried. Some non-Muslims are scared as well.
The flames to their fears aren't being doused much by some of the commentary about the event. Conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham went so far during her nationally syndicated broadcast Friday as to term the shootings a terrorist attack. And she blasted the media for not saying as much.
This angst was reflected in at least one call to News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network. The caller suggested during yesterday's show that no Muslims should be part of the U.S. military. No matter that there are thousands of patriotic Muslim-Americans who are proud to wear the uniforms of the U.S. Armed Forces and who have fought bravely alongside non-Muslims.
By that same measure, I ironically argued in return, that anytime someone commits a particularly heinous crime, then others from that person's subgroup should be precluded from participating in society as well.
I noted that the alleged gunman who shot up a Daytona office building yesterday had an Hispanic surname. So maybe, I suggested, as a precaution, all Hispanics should be asked to leave the country.
Then I made the ultimate factual error. I accused Timothy McVeigh of being a Christian - to make the point that - maybe all Christians should be asked to leave too. You know, to protect our federal buildings and the people inside.
That was met with a chorus of "McVeigh was not a Christian!" - which - of course - wasn't the real point. But apparently a raw nerve was hit.
So I did a little research. Apparently, McVeigh was born and raised a Roman Catholic (which I believe would have made him, at least at the time, a Christian) but then claimed near the end that he was an agnostic. So let's rephrase the argument for the sake of accuracy and to avoid maligning and offending all the Christians in the United States:
Maybe we should ask all the agnostics to leave the country.
The attempted point was to show how absurd was the argument that Muslims be now precluded from being in the military. As equally absurd as saying that all Hispanics be deported because of the Daytona incident or all agnostics (or had he still been Christian, all Christians) because of what McVeigh did.
The caller with whom I was having a fairly heated debate accused me of not "getting it." I got it alright. She doesn't like Muslims. That point came across perfectly clear.
The person who didn't "get it" was the caller and others who showed their disgust with my remarks in text. I don't know if that's the fault of the listeners who objected or of my inability to make myself clear through my examples.
I think back to a caller on Thursday, the day of the shooting. An active-duty Marine, who agrees with me that it's ridiculous to suggest that Muslims be precluded from military service in the United States. He told us that his commanding officer is a Muslim-American and that he can't think of anyone else he'd rather follow into battle.
But then, again, perhaps he doesn't "get it" either.