How far has hysteria really come

Published 12:35 am Saturday, November 7, 2009

It is a troubling thing that the Fort Hood massacre would occur at all in this nation. It is eerily disturbing that the mass shooting would come less than a week before the country observes Veterans Day.

As the shooting took place on the Fort Hood base, I sat on the couch of Lindyburg Lindsey, a Linden resident who served on the U.S.S. Ticonderoga in World War II.

Fort Hood presents an alarming commentary on how we have changed as a nation over the last 64 years. Moreover, it offers an even more uncomfortable view of how we have stayed the same.

Lindyburg told me Thursday afternoon about the men who deserted while on leave, those who could not stand the notion of returning to war. But he also told me of the camaraderie that existed between the men. He cited the difficulty of watching his fallen shipmates as they were placed in bags and sent out to sea.

The alleged actions of Army psychiatrist-turned-gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan provide a stark contrast to the portrait Lindyburg painted of U.S. soldiers some six decades ago.

But, as horrendous as the shooting at Fort Hood was, the side of the story to which no one is paying attention is also nauseating.

It is no secret that Japanese-Americans were herded into camps during WWII, amid a climate of mistrust and paranoia. It is a dark chapter in this nation’s history of which no one is particularly proud.

Hasan was not forced into a camp, but early reports indicate that he endured harassment due to his Islamic faith.

Granted, the supposed harassment in no way justifies Hasan’s actions, but it does force us to evaluate how far we’ve really advanced.

It is virtually inarguable that the climate of mistrust and paranoia regarding Muslim Americans in our nation over the better part of the last decade is comparable to that which Japanese-Americans encountered in the ’40s.

And, what’s more upsetting is the harsh likelihood that Hasan’s actions at Fort Hood have done nothing but make that hysteria even more palpable.

Jeremy D. Smith is the sports editor of the Demopolis Times