I’ve had issues with the way former president George W. Bush did his job, to say the least, but one good thing he did was emphasize that his “war on terrorism” was not a war against Islam, one of the world’s great faiths. That disclaimer rings hollow if Muslims serving in the armed forces are blamed for the crimes of Islamic terrorists and treated as potential traitors to the American cause.
But fairness is one thing, foolishness another. Any soldier who seemed as if he might be falling apart — and it seems that Hasan gave a lot of people that impression — should have been given more scrutiny. In Hasan’s case, a closer look would have revealed his growing religiosity and his feeling that his faith was under assault. That Hasan had worshiped at a Virginia mosque whose spiritual leader was a radical named Anwar al-Aulaqi might also have come to light. The Post reported Monday that Aulaqi, who now lives in Yemen, has posted a message on his Web site calling Hasan a “hero” for what he allegedly did at Fort Hood.
Had authorities learned in advance of any link between Hasan and radical Islam — as opposed to the mainstream Islam practiced by more than a billion people worldwide — they could have moved immediately to ensure that Hasan could not hurt others or himself. That wouldn’t have been an act of bigotry, it would have been an act of prudence, even compassion.