David Brooks not a moderate in defense of liberty

Where to begin, where to end, in one’s condemnation of David Brooks’s idiotic column concerning the tragedy of the Fort Hood massacre?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/opinion/10brooks.html

Brooks seems to have received a memo that was also received by Tony Blankley, whom I heard deliver Brooks’s column on the radio show “Left, Right, and Center.”  What I do not understand is the either/or mentality underlying the “conservative” interpretation of events:  either the murderer is an Islamist ideologue or he is mentally ill.  But why can’t he be both?  Isn’t this the likeliest explanation, that he is both crazy and an Islamist ideologue?  But which came first, the mental illness or the Islamist ideology?  I’ll vote for mental illness, on a priori grounds.  This is not to say that one needs to be crazy to be a radical Islamist.  I just think that this particular guy probably is crazy, given his background.  One gets the impression that the peculiar constellation of his career path in the US military, his education, and ethnic background, along with the path of recent international events all combined to create unusual tensions that led to mental illness.

The odd thing about this column by Brooks is that he is generally not an either/or sort of fellow.  The American right has a lot invested in the narrative of war against Islamic extremism, a war that requires America to be highly invested in military spending.

It seems very likely that the American press did initially downplay the Islamist angle of the massacre, in order not to inflame passions.  This does not seem to be the most terrible of sins.  Indeed, it’s better than the alternative.  Imagine a massacre of whites by an Afro-American.  Are the media supposed to lead with the racial angle, even supposing that the killer leaves a note saying that he has been motivated by racial enmity?  Where is the great harm in letting the story come out gradually?  I agree that a permanent suppression of the truth is undesirable.

In the meantime, let’s all be sure to be constant in our vigilance regarding the threat posed by Islamism.  And remember, there is no reasoning with an Islamist.  The only language they understand is that of a gun barrel.

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