Here is a statement issued by the Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military on Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s murder of 13 people at Ft. Hood yesterday:
At a time of deep sorrow in the midst of this horrific tragedy, our thoughts are first and foremost with the Fort Hood shooting victims and their families. One can only imagine the unspeakable pain and loss they are and will be dealing with in the weeks, months and years to come.
It is unfortunate that whatever demons possessed Nidal Hasan, that he chose to deal with his problems in this way.
In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy**, it is more important than ever that we not make the same scapegoating and broad stroke mistakes that were evident in the aftermath of previous tragedies**. The Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military urges the media, government officials and all of our fellow Americans to recognize that the actions of Hasan are those of a deranged gunman, and are in no way representative of the wider Arab American or American Muslim community.
In fact, thousands of Arab Americans and American Muslims serve honorably everyday in all four branches of the U.S. military and in the National Guard. Additionally, many of us have willingly stepped forward to fulfill our duty with our fellow soldiers in both Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the globe, including most of the member of APAAM. Indeed, many of us are today currently deployed in both countries, honorably serving each and every day.
The Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military (APAAM) was created shortly after September 11th, 2001, in an effort to organize current and former Arab- Americans in the military. There are approximately 3,500 Arab- Americans serving in our Armed Forces. Based on the fact that there are no other formal organizations representing Arab- Americans in the military, APAAM has the distinction of being the first official organization for Arab- Americans in the Military.
As John Nichols pointed out at The Nation, the fact that Hasan comes from an Arab-American background filled the airwaves with predictable innuendo that his Arab heritage and Muslim faith inspired the shooting. To be very clear: it makes no sense to speculate about Hasan’s motivations, and we’ve heard, for the past 16 hours, no shortage of wild speculation that stigmatizes a lot of people. Hasan has never been to war, yet that didn’t stop the cable networks from making the predictable and ignorant point that somehow combat stress motivated him to pick up those guns. Similarly, the media, and especially the right-wing media, are throwing out innuendo that Hasan was an Islamic radical, and, lacking the courage of their noxious convictions, retreat to the line that the mainstream media “does not mention the shooter’s religion at all,” as if this was some data point that unlocked the mystery of his murderous intentions.
Hasan is alive. He will be interrogated and tried. We will presumably learn soon why he committed the cowardly actions he committed. Until then, those who speculate only reveal their own prejudices.
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