Tunku Varadarajan is no journalistic lightweight. A former managing editor for the Wall Street Journal, the clinical professor of business at NYU made an argument in his Forbes column last week that probably left most Muslim Americans, not to mention many non-Muslim Americans, feeling really, really uncomfortable.
In the wake of the alleged rampage by Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan at Fort Hood, Varadarajan suggests adding a new phrase to the American lexicon—“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.
The difference between “going postal,” in the conventional sense, and “going Muslim,” in the sense that I suggest, is that there would not necessarily be a psychological “snapping” point in the case of the imminently violent Muslim; instead, there could be a calculated discarding of camouflage—the camouflage of integration—in an act of revelatory catharsis. In spite of suggestions by some who know him that he had a history of “harassment” as a Muslim in the army, Maj. Hasan did not “snap” in the “postal” manner. He gave away his possessions on the morning of his day of murder. He even gave away—to a neighbor—a packet of frozen broccoli that he did not wish to see go to waste, even as he mapped in his mind the laying waste of lives at Fort Hood. His was a meticulous, even punctilious “departure.”
We are a civilized society. One of our cardinal rules of coexistence is that we (try always to) judge people only by their actions and not by their identity, whether racial, religious or sexual. This is our great strength as a society, and also, in the present circumstances, our great weakness: How to address the threat posed by the fact that, of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims in our midst, there are a few (perhaps many more than a few) who are so radicalized that they would kill their fellow Americans?
Talk about fear-mongering. Just hammers home that the reaction of Muslim Americans to domestic terror in the name of Allah must be incredibly similar to the Jewish response to gonifs like Bernard Madoff.