Divided responses to the Fort Hood Killings illurate how reality follows perception, and how the United States is hopelessly split.
The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, November 7, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.
Two Different Worlds We Live In - The Hasan Murders
The most fundamental truth in psychology is that human beings filter the world through their own prisms. There is no objective reality for humans - only the reality seen by each person and the groups to which they belong.
There have always been two Americas - now termed Red and Blue America. This was evident during the HUAC hearings on communism in the fifties, where virtually everyone in Hollywood and New York was a suspect, and men with pinched glasses and comb overs grilled liberals and Jews in the arts about their past political associations.
That we are so focused currently on Red and Blue America indicates we have reached another apex - like the one during the McCarthy-HUAC era. Only now, it seems most Americans have staked out their positions and taken up battle stations. And the Nasan murders are a perfect illustration of the two different worlds we live in, as represented in the New York Times and Fox-Murdoch News.
The morning-after reflections on the mass homicide by the Moslem military psychiatrist read like they were written by people occupying two different countries - or planets - which they do.
Here are the New York Times opinion pieces on the murders:
Max Cleland : The Forever War of the Mind. "While the authorities say they cannot yet tell us why an Army psychiatrist would go on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas, we do know the sorts of stories he had been dealing with as he tried to help those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan readjust to life outside the war zone. A soldier's mind can be just as dangerous to himself, and to those around him, as wars fought on traditional battlefields."
Bob Herbert : Stress Beyond Belief. "Simply stated, we cannot continue sending service members into combat for three tours, four tours, five tours and more without paying a horrendous price in terms of the psychological well-being of the troops and their families, and the overall readiness of the armed forces to protect the nation."
Joseph Kinney : Surviving Fort Hood. "The killings at Fort Hood are a reminder of our failure to deal with the psychological wounds of war."
Editorial : The Horror at Fort Hood. "In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East."
And those from Murdoch's New York Post:
Editorial : Terror in Texas. "In the terrorists' war on America, every square inch of the nation is a potential battlefield, including Ft. Hood, Texas. The point of terrorism is to terrorize. It matters not at all whether the victims are soldiers on a military base, or office workers in downtown Manhattan, as long as the results are so shockingly bloody that they sap the will of Americans to stand up for their way of life."
Ralph Peters : Call this Horror by Its Name: Islamist Terror. "This was a terrorist act. When an extremist plans and executes a murderous plot against our unarmed soldiers to protest our efforts to counter Islamist fanatics, it's an act of terror. Period."
Paul Sperry : The Military's Blinders. "His superiors put up blinders to all these red flags because Hasan -- who wore traditional Islamic robe and kufi and prayed five times a day -- practiced the ‘religion of peace.' And they're not supposed to make a connection between that religion and terrorism, even as they prosecute a war on Islamic terrorism."
Stephen Schwartz : Take a Look at Hasan's Old Mosque. "What interpretation of Islam influenced Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan? As often before, the trail leads to the official sect of Saudi Arabia -- known as Wahhabism to most of us of who denounce it. Confronting the role of radical Islam here is not Islamophobic, but common sense."
Can a nation this divided against itself remain afloat?
(Potential commenters: In case you can't tell, it is inappropriate to simply jump on a bandwagon and argue strenuously for one side or the other. That only reinforces the post's pessimistic conclusion.)