Certainly, Nidal Malik Hasan seems to have been motivated by hate. Hatred towards the United States and non-Muslims. And yet, we have not heard a single thing about hate crimes. Why is that?
I don’t believe in a separate legal status for “hate crimes,” because I believe it is dangerous for the government to begin to judge and punish people according to their thoughts. However, if hate crimes are to be on the books, they must be applied fairly and evenly.
Regarding another bit of terminology surrounding Ft. Hood, it seems that some on the right are jumping to label this an of “terrorism.” Because to do so, the logic seems to go, is to make sure that the killer’s motivation is not glossed over. I appreciate the sentiment, but I think that only makes so much sense – and actually even risks the very thing the terrorist-label supporters are seeking (honest and open identification and discussion of motive, etc.).
Firstly – I don’t know that this was a “terrorist” attack. Hasan did not target civilians, and only killed one civilian. Twelve of thirteen of his victims were military personnel. To me, a key component of terrorism generally involves the intentional targeting of non-military personnel. So, in that sense, this was not terrorism.
So what was it then? Simply put, this was an act of guerrilla warfare against the United States of America by a man fighting in the name of Islam. To simply label it as “terrorism” and move on, as if somehow that represents the whole truth, is almost to imply as though there is not an “actual” or “full-scale” war that has been declared and is being waged against us. (“Oh, it’s just a random ‘terrorist’ attack.”)
In fact, a war has been declared against us, and that war is being waged. Fort Hood is simply the latest enemy salvo. “Terrorism” is not the only tactic of militant Islam, and it does not define the scope of their motivation or intentions.