Going postal in Texas

So, a Muslim army major has gone on the rampage with two automatic handguns on a US army base in Texas, and killed (so far) 13 people. Obviously, the usual suspects rush to blame Muslims generally and to cast aspersions on the loyalty of Muslims or those in the forces. Most Muslims have condemned his action, while a few have made him into some sort of hero, including (allegedly) Anwar al-Awlaki (reproduced here; see also this article by a moronic American conservative, who draws the usual false links between Awlaki and so-called “unindicted co-conspirators” in Virginia). (More: Muslim Matters, Loonwatch reproduced by Suhaib Webb, Mozaffar @ other|matters, Sheila Musaji, Peace, Bruv.)

However, this type of shooting is a very American phenomenon. Suicide bombings did not originate in Palestine or Lebanon, but in Japan, and terrorist suicide bombers originated with the Tamil Tigers, who are actually atheists, before being picked up by the likes of Hezbollah and Hamas later. There is a very long history of workers in US companies, particularly the postal service (hence the expression), shooting at a number of their former colleagues in response to being fired, or to perceived victimisation. They can do this because guns are easily available in the USA, and are legal, and because unions are weak and workers don’t have much in the way of rights in most parts of the country. In this particular case, it is reported that Maj Hasan had complained of racist victimisation, and was on the point of being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, most likely with the very same people who he claimed had been victimising him. It’s the sort of thing that might make an Muslim go postal in a country where there is a history of people going postal.

The Marxist blogger “Lenin” (AKA Richard Seymour) offers one example, taken from Mark Ames’s book Going Postal (2002), involving someone who was a workplace laughing stock who was expected to work on a machine which was damaging his health, which nobody else was, and eventually had to take leave because of stress and found his pay drastically reduced when he returned. The book quoted one injured survivor as saying that he would have had more sympathy had he shot different people.

There was a post on this at FWD/Forward (FWD means Feminists With Disabilities), and contributor s.e. smith AKA meloukhia (regular blog here) made this comment:

I also think it’s really sad that numerous Muslim organizations in the United States have felt obliged to rapidly come forward with condemnations stressing that this man acted independently (and actually against) Islam, and that they love America. It really upsets me that every time a crime is committed by a Muslim, there’s an expectation that all Muslim organizations should immediately rush to apologize/condemn, as should individual Muslims. As though the actions of one Muslim are the fault of the Muslim community as a whole. Yet, when crimes are committed by people of other religious denominations, there are no such expectations.

I responded:

The Muslim organisations condemned it because it was a high-profile act by a Muslim against the American state. I think they were right to do so, for the sake of the American Muslim population. I don’t believe they should every time a Muslim, or a Muslim group, does something bad which may or may not have been in the name of Islam. We shouldn’t rise to the “condemn it or else” threats because these things are never enough for a lot of people. I came out and said on my blog that western Muslims should not condemn the Bombay attacks last November because they had nothing to do with us and we should not satisfy the demands of people who regard Muslims as guilty until proven innocent. But this is entirely different, in my opinion.

I hope everyone understands that there is no Islamic justification for this action. It is an action entirely in the tradition of American responses to workplace victimisation, not some kind of act of jihad. If Major Nidal Hasan had simply wanted to get out of going to Iraq, then rather than shooting at random soldiers, he could have simply gone AWOL, or attempted to flee the country, or simply refused to be deployed — he would have been subject to proceedings for insubordination and most likely have been discharged with dishonour, but would not have killed anyone, be paralysed and facing the death penalty, and have lain the entire Muslim community in the USA open to danger yet again.

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    Assalamualaikum,

    I fully support this posting and your views on the recent attacks and what response the Muslim community in America should give. This is the difference between a learned person with true Islamic knowledge and someone who is simply claiming to be so. I am about to complete a degree in International Affairs and I have a good understanding of geopolitics, a must for anyone giving socio-political advise to Muslims.

    After reading the post attributed to Anwar Awlaki, I think it is imperative for all influential Muslim leaders and thinkers to distance themselves from such thinking. We need to encourage our community to show true Islam to the American people, this should be our First Priority no matter what. We still have the freedom to worship and practice our faith here despite some injustices that people have faced. We also have the freedom to disagree with this nation’s policies in a peaceful way. In many ways it is easier to be a real Muslim here than many so-called Muslim countries where, due to socio-historical factors knowledge about the true message of Islam and a culture of learning are lacking.

    Finally, the leaders of this Ummah and our community in America need to have strategic vision. We are like the Muslim community in Mecca not Madina, any other way of thinking will be disastrous. As a minority in this nation we are in a very precarious position and there is a breaking point to the restrain we have been seeing among the American people. They have been ignoring the hateful calls to expel or worse massacre the Muslim community here while we’re still containable. We need to oppose this type of thinking no matter what.

    I am not a pacifist at all but the use of violence is contextually based, and in Islam only someone with the caliber of a national leader can call for it. Individuals simply don’t have that right in Islam, this would cause anarchy as we’re seeing today. I’m not a scholar of Islam only a humble student but I did hear of a teaching for Muslims to live according to the “laws of the land” if they live anywhere. Let us uphold these teachings and be true Muslims among ourselves and others, if somebody can’t do this they should leave so that no harm will come to the rest of the community.

    Peace and may God Bless You.