Surely you all know by now that there was a deadly shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas on Nov. 5. Thirteen people were killed (12 of them soldiers) and 42 more were wounded. The only suspect in the shootings is Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a former Army psychiatrist, who was stationed at the base and was shot and paralyzed by a cop before being taken in to custody.
Why would a soldier do such a thing? Apparently, there were some red flags regarding Hasan’s character that were uncovered by profilers. He was profiled as a loner who wasn’t married and closed off. In 2007, he gave a presentation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he asked the Army to make a rule that allowed practicing Muslims to be able to file as conscientious objectors to military operations against other Muslims. His communications were flagged by intelligence agencies in 2008. These and other red flags provide some insight as to why Hasan allegedly performed this monstrous act.
But the question that’s on everyone’s mind right now is this: was this shooting an act of terrorism? That’s a fairly black-and-white question for an act like this. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines terrorism as "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion." FBI profilers have already said that they believe Hasan allegedly acted alone, so that kind of puts a damper on the "systematic" part of it. They also said that his psychological actions are consistent with a mass murderer, not a terrorist. But is this truly terrorism? At gunpoint, I’d probably say no. It’s hard to come up with a definitive answer because we may never know exactly what went through Hasan’s head that day.
But of course, people tend to rush to judgments in situations like this. Bill O’Reilly has stated that this event was clearly an act of terror, but it’s not that open-and-shut. Also, it’s not exactly top priority right now. Do you think the families of the 13 people who were killed care whether this will be considered an act of terror or not? Maybe in the future, but not right now.
Also, this question hasn’t really come up before in previous mass shootings, so why is it so pertinent now? The answer is probably because of the impact of 9/11 and the war on terror, but does this mean we should go back and reevaluate other terrible events like Columbine? Personally, deciding whether these or any future events are acts of terror doesn’t mean that much because it doesn’t really mean anything in the long run. These are tragedies, first and foremost, and everything else is semantics. The impact of losing a family member or a friend doesn’t change whether they were killed by a terrorist or a mass murderer. A loss is still a loss. I haven’t lost anyone in an act like Fort Hood, so maybe I’m all wrong about this, since I don’t know what that feels like. Hopefully, it’ll stay that way.