We are giving ourselves shallow and untenable choices. Either Islam is a religion that condones violence. Or Islam is a religion of peace.
Either Maj. Nidal Hasan, who opened fire at the Army base in Fort Hood, Texas, last week, killing 12 people, is a victim of extreme posttraumatic stress disorder. Or he is a terrorist, operating under orders from a Yemeni cleric.
Either Americans’ reaction to the shootings at Fort Hood are a reversion to the early days after 9/11, when every brown-skinned man in a skullcap was a terrorist suspect. (Earlier this week the director of issues analysis for the conservative American Family Association called for a ban on all Muslims in the U.S. military.) Or Americans are so blindly committed to a politically correct assessment of Islam that, in the word of New York Times columnist David Brooks, “public commentators” absolved Hasan of responsibility, assuming “the air of kindergarten teachers who had to protect their children from thinking certain impermissible and intolerant thoughts.”