13 Feb, 2010 “We create a vacuum where no discourse is taking place”
Dr M. Zuhdi Jasser is a former lieutenant commander with 11 years service as a medical officer in the United States Navy. He is also President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
In an important article in The Daily Caller, Dr Jasser laments the entrenched inability of the US military to engage in meaningful discussion about faith. He identifies a “paralyzing culure” of political correctness, which made it virtually impossible for Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s superiors to act upon their concerns about his obvious Islamic radicalization prior to the Fort Hood massacre. Jasser points out that “Had they brought those concerns to his review process, they would have been vilified as Islamaphobes:”
“When we are unable to discuss complex issues like this and Hasan without the fear of reprisal or labels, we create a vacuum where no discourse is taking place. In that vacuum, we allow the seeds of discontent to grow. For Nidal Hasan that culminated in his superiors ignoring his behaviors and eventually sending him to Fort Hood, where his fate was sealed.”
According to Jasser, the Pentagon’s 84-page report reviewing the Fort Hood massacre is “a travesty” because it scapegoats Major Hasan’s superiors without addressing the underlying problem of a culture of silence.
While Jasser calls for “a full revision of how the United States military handles Islamist radicalization within its ranks,” the vacuum of silence is not confined to the military. It merely mirrors a wider analytical deskilling of American society today, where highly questionable presuppositions about faith and identity have become so deeply embedded in the outlook of so many, and placed so far beyond question, that a reasonable conversation about religious radicalization has been rendered impossible.
We find ourselves in a world where facts and analysis have been replaced by presupposition and fear.
This culture of silence, which is so vociferously policed, has become deeply threatening to America’s harmony and security. I plan to discuss it further in a subsequent post.
Mark Durie is the founding director of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness, a Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Senior Research Fellow of the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at the Melbourne School of Theology.