What message should we take away from the Fort Hood massacre, where 13 people were allegedly murdered by radicalized Muslim army psychiatrist Nadal Hasan? According to Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the takeaway is that the U.S. should to stop beating around the bush and call America’s enemies what they supposedly are: “Islamic extremists.”
Lieberman convened the hearing ostensibly to discuss the recently-released report that criticized the federal government for failing to prevent the massacre by not taking appropriate action to remove Hasan from the military. But it quickly turned into a denunciation of the language the Administration supposedly uses to discuss violent acts.
“The administration is refusing to acknowledge that violent Islamic extremism is the ideology that fuels attacks,” said Ranking Member Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). “The refusal to distinguish violent Islamic extremism from the peaceful, protected exercise of the Muslim religion sends the wrong message,” she said, “as it implies they can’t be distinguished.”
Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) criticized “some people in the executive branch of government,” for refusing to use the term ‘Islamic extremists,’ saying “I think some people in the administration feel it will compromise our relations with the broader Muslim world.”
Lieberman even asked General John Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army, for his military perspective on why Hasan’s superiors did not deal with his open expressions of violent extremism. “Was it exaggerated political correctness? Easier to move him along?”
Keane drew a parallel to interactions with racial extremists and said it’s normal to pull away when people use speech that is abhorrent to most of us. “The natural thing is to pull away from it, you have great difficulty identifying to it because of your own values.” In this case, he said, “the responsible officers pulled away and decided not to confront it because they were uncomfortable.”
Philip Mudd, former deputy director of the Office of Terrorism Analysis at the CIA, was the only speaker to dissent with the idea that it was of vital importance to call terrorists “Islamic extremists.” He noted that enemies like to be called terrorists and extremists. Call them what they don’t like to be called, he said. “Call them murderers.”