For American conservatives, 2009 has not been a year for tact. As the only high-profile African American in the Republican Party admits that many in the GOP distrust him because of his race, not one but two mainline pundits are on record calling the first black President a “racist”; and, conservative activists have visibly delighted in rising unemployment, Chicago’s loss of the Olympics, and, now, a brutal massacre at an army base in Texas.
You see, right-wing gunman are not representative of their ideological group; Muslim gunmen, on the other hand, prove that Muslims shouldn’t be in the military. The Fort Hood tragedy is the perfect chance for the GOP to exploit lingering anti-Muslim racism, playing upon that familiar cocktail of fear and hatred that so often sweeps them to power, at the expense of the nation’s soul. The willful racial profiling going on on conservative blogs and websites these days is probably the worst since Korematsu.
Lest we forget, there are between 3,500 and 20,000 Muslims serving in America’s 1.5 million-member military. One of them, over the course of time, transitioned from a loyal servicemember to a radicalized murderer. That leaves Muslim soldiers with somewhere between a 99.97% and a 99.995% loyalty rate. Meanwhile, two right-wing extremists — one anti-government militia member, and one white supremacist — have killed in the past six months, and lest we forget, in 1995 a registered Republican army veteran committed a mass murder that makes the Fort Hood incident pale in comparison.
The point must be that none of these groups, even heinous, hate-driven organizations like white supremacists, are sufficiently dangerous to render membership a proxy for murderous intent. We should be vigilant of red flags, as surely existed in Mr. Hasan’s case, but that’s all either common sense or DHS policy statements have ever suggested. It is a sad state of things when tragedy functions as sufficient excuse to reveal barely-concealed racism, but here we are. For the Republican Party, the thin veneer of humanity is just so easily chipped.