Islamophobia 101: Episode 34–“Going Muslim” vs. “Going Postal”

Posted on November 14, 2009


Tunku Varadarajan, a clinical professor (akin to a lecturer hired because of professional, not academic experience) at NYU’s Stern Business School and a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is executive editor for opinions at Forbes. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree. He writes a weekly column for Forbes

Tunku Varadarajan, 11.09.09, 12:00 AM ET

 “Going postal” is a piquant American phrase that describes the phenomenon of violent rage in which a worker–archetypically a postal worker–“snaps” and guns down his colleagues.

 As the enormity of the actions of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sinks in, we must ask whether we are confronting a new phenomenon of violent rage, one we might dub–disconcertingly–“Going Muslim.” This phrase would describe the turn of events where a seemingly integrated Muslim-American–a friendly donut vendor in New York, say, or an officer in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood–discards his apparent integration into American society and elects to vindicate his religion in an act of messianic violence against his fellow Americans. This would appear to be what happened in the case of Maj. Hasan. […]

 This being America, we will insist on going a long way to preserve the appearance of equality, and that is no bad thing in terms of moral principle. But like all values, the appearance of equality is not infinite in its appeal–especially if it flies in the face of common sense and self-preservation. A short time after the shootings at Fort Hood, President Obama asked us not to jump to conclusions. To many Americans, this was a grating request, of a piece with the political correctness that was responsible–it has emerged–for the hands-off treatment by the Army of Maj. Hasan. How else could he have been left in the position of treating U.S. troops, given the stories we’ve now heard about his incendiary statements and apparent incompetence? […]

 This is part of a larger–and too-hot-to-touch–American problem, which is the privileging of religion, and its frequent exemption from rules of normal discourse. Muslims may be more extreme because their religion is founded on bellicose conquest, a contempt for infidels and an obligation for piety that is more extensive than in other schemes. President Obama was as craven as a community college diversity vice-president when he said that no one should jump to conclusions. Everyone did, and he lost credibility with people who cannot stand civic piety in the face of the murderous kind.

Muslims are the most difficult “incomers” in the ongoing integration challenge, which America has always handled with pride–and a kind of swagger. [more]