Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Tragedy at Ft. Hood

I have intentionally not written anything about the recent mass shooting at Ft. Hood, committed by an Army Psychiatrist, because I did not want to jump to any conclusions. We still do not know enough to draw any conclusions save one… soldiers saved other soldier’s lives that day.

I am humbled by the reports that soldiers were helping each other find cover, that they ripped off their uniforms to provide medical care in the immediate aftermath. I am humbled by the signs of support that the deployed soldiers from Ft. Hood have sent home to their families and colleagues. I am humbled by the courage shown by the two Civilian Department of the Army Police. My heart goes out to those soldiers, to their families, and to the entire community of Ft. Hood and Killeen, TX.

Some of you know I have several connections to Ft. Hood, as well as to the Brooke Army Medical Center where the shooter is being held. I want to thank everyone who has contacted me in the last few days to make sure I was not currently at Ft. Hood, and to express their horror and fear. I do have several friends and Chaplain Colleagues at Ft. Hood, and I know they are busy being with soldiers and families at the moment.

These kinds of mass shootings have been happening with seeming increasing frequency in the last decade… from schools to workplaces to workout facilities, people have felt that the only way they could be respected was to be feared, and the only way they could be feared was to kill people. I find it fascinating that some of the individuals profiting the most from promoting fear are even willing to use this tragedy to promote their fear based racist agenda, such as calling for investigations of every Muslim in the military. What they do not realize is that the fascination the 24 hour news cycle has with sensational stories and the culture of fear they have created are as much the source of such mass shootings as any ideas, values, or intentions of the killer.

Unlike some of the other mass shootings, it seems to me that there is an additional aspect to this story… one that is not being covered. It is called “Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder”. It is where someone is traumatized by repeated exposure to the traumatic experiences of others. It happens to caregivers of those with PTSD or other Battlemind injuries, including psychologists, psychiatrists, chaplains, and even family members.

Nothing excuses what Major Hasan did. Nothing. And, we cannot allow those who peddle hatred and fear to distract us from looking at the full complexity of why this terrible tragedy happened. If we do not look deeply into what drove him to kill so many people, if we allow ourselves to be distracted by what is on the surface, then we have not lived up to the price that has already been paid.

Yours in Faith,


10 Thoughts on “Tragedy at Ft. Hood

  1. I was at the Combat Hospital in Baghdad and saw compassion fatique among providers, and clergy there. Lumping that with what Maj. Hasan did doesn’t ring very true for me. I’m guess Maj. Hasan’s PC will yield a few Jihiadi snuff videos instead…so much for PTSD. Lucky he didn’t deploy to Iraq because a Palistinian-American spouting Sunni Jihiadi talk would have been picked up by Iraqis fast and they would have had zero tolerance for it.

  2. Bill,

    Compassion fatigue and STSD are two quite different things… and so it is you that is lumping those two things together, and not I.

    Once again, Bill… a strawman argument. I’m going to continue to call you on them when you try them.

    Yours in Faith,


  3. Then let me say I saw tired, brave, and stressed people in that Hospital. Many of them Iraqis and Muslims. Maj Hasan from what I can read is a committed Jihadist. Someone Iraqi’s I knew would have shot on the spot if they had a chance for the wreckage Radical Islam has brought to their lands. Maj Hasan is no victim. He is the foe. A Muslim in Iraq will see that far quicker than Americans.

  4. How does that square with a belief in the inherent worth and dignity and interconnection with all? Just curious if you make that connection at all Bill.

    What you say is true… and it is not the point (which is the core element of a strawman argument, where you set up a false comparison in order to argue the point you want to argue, not the point of the discussion at hand). I am trained as a Combat Support Hospital Chaplain… I agree that those that work there are dedicated, hardworking, compassionate people who have given more than their full measure of devotion to this country. They are some of the most dedicated soldiers I have ever met.

    And that has nothing to do with Maj. Hasan… and in truth his being a “Jihadist” (something I’m not so certain about, not in the way you seem to mean it) is not the full complexity of what brought him to commit such a horrific act. It is too easy and answer, and in my experience things are rarely so simple.

    Ask yourself the question… why is he a “Jihadist”. Why did he post the things he apparently posted on websites? Why did he feel called to such an atrocity?

    You are the one who called him a victim, not I…. I am not saying he is a victim in this atrocity (once again, your attempt at another strawman argument). I am saying that unless we seek a depth of understanding of why this happened, it will continue to happen. Stoping at the surface of any such act in trying to understand it is irresponsible, leads us toward surface reactions to it, and does nothing to address the underlying issues that are, I believe, often more profoundly responsible for such acts.

    It would be like trying to understand the atrocity at Columbine High School as two kids who wanted to be famous.

    As I have said to you before Bill… Look past the surface.

    Yours in Faith,


  5. [i]How does that square with a belief in the inherent worth and dignity and interconnection with all?[/i]

    Not sure what the “that’ is you refer to here. We all have an inherent worth and dignity. Maj. Hasan chose to debase his. Note once he was down, the Service Members came to his aid, bound his wounds, because I think, they recognized despite his actions, Maj Hasan even as killer had inherent worth and dignity.

    I don’t know where I wrote Maj. Hasan a victim.

    Some of the Victims were people I work with. This unit was from Wisconsin: Madison-based 467th Combat Stress Control Army Reserve Detachment.

    They too had inherent worth and their names are:

    killed: Cpt Russell Seager from the Milwaukee VA Hospital

    wounded: Dorothy Carskadon from the Madison Vets Center.

    Google for their Obits to learn more about them. Brave selfless health care professionals and solidiers, who died at the hands of a fanatical muslim.

    A fellow who would have been spot quickly and delt with harshly from the Iraqis I knew in deployment. Far harsher than Americans did….

  6. Wouldn’t the “why” be extremism, in this case religious extremism?
    That was the case 24 hours after George Tiller’s death, http://celestiallands.org/wayside/?p=186, so I figure it is the case here.

    Past the surface, I see Islamic extremism. And I’ve waited longer than 24 hours posit that premise. Please tell me that “we”, once again, are not what is “past the surface”. I’m so tired of being the cause of all the ceaseless violence from Jihadists.

  7. Bill,

    “[i]How does that square with a belief in the inherent worth and dignity and interconnection with all?[/i]

    Not sure what the “that’ is you refer to here. We all have an inherent worth and dignity. Maj. Hasan chose to debase his.”

    I wanted to see if you could recognize a strawman argument when it was used against you… and I’m not certain you did. Perhaps you have been using this tool of argumentation so long, and felt so successful at it, that you are completely unaware of how it permeates so much of your engagement here on the web. I will continue to call you on it when you do so here at Celestial Lands, but I will carry an awareness that it is probably not out of malice… you probably do not even realize you are doing it.

    Your entire last post, and your attempt to re-focus the discussion upon the obviously powerful experience with the CASH in Baghdad is a strawman argument. You bring up another point, distantly related to the point at hand, so you can argue that point instead of the one in the original article. You also work to re-frame what the original point of the discussion was to circle around where you are confident in the discussion… because you chose to try and move the discussion to that place. It is a long-time debate strategy, the strawman argument… and I find it more harmful to genuine engagement around an issue than helpful.

    RW, thank you for sharing what you see below the surface of this issue… I see it differently. I see the “Islamic Extremism in this case to be the surface, not the deeper reality. I do not believe we are the cause of all the careless violence from the Jihadists… I believe that comes right out of human nature. But I am not sold that Maj. Hasan is a Jihadist… and I believe that label is one that applies to the surface only.

    I have not even claimed that his actions were not Terrorism… I just have not jumped to the conclusion that it was. Whatever it was that motivated him, it was horrendous and there is no excuse for it… and we need to fully understand why it happend. I am always amazed by how many people are uncomfortable with trying to hold the two ends of that equation. Something is wrong… and we have to fully understand it.

    You can disagree, and that is wonderful. In the case of George Tiller, I believe you are also right… there is violence from fanatics… and in the case of Scott Roeder, he has told us what his motivations were. I believe that there are many complications in society, in his own mental health makeup, and in the political climate we humans have created that are factors in shaping who Scott Roeder is… and that we need to understand those factors as deeply as we can.

    Many often take this as my excusing the actor… and nothing could be further from the truth. I would claim that those who make that assumption are projecting that upon what I say and write on this issue. But it is irresponsible to just condemn something without making every effort to fully understand it… such is part of the reason why humanity is stuck in some of the same kinds of cycles of behavior…

    Each trajedy, each crisis… each time we run into something we perceive as either good or evil, is a call to learn deeper about ourselves, individually, communally, and as a species. When we catagorize by what is on the surface, we fail in that call.

    Yours in Faith,


  8. But I am not sold that Maj. Hasan is a Jihadist

    Really? His yelling “Allahu Akbar” during a shooting rampage wan’t ENOUGH evidence that the shooter had Allah’s greatness on the brain during the time of the murder rampage? What else is needed, a note spelling out his plans for jihad? You know, the plans that he……carried out, yelling “Allahu Akbar”?

    each time we run into something we perceive as either good or evil, is a call to learn deeper about ourselves, individually, communally, and as a species

    That guy killing 14 people has nothing to do with me, individually. Nothing. It is 100% on HIM. Not my community, not some grand calling, not our species. He acted outside the acceptable behavior for our species and it requires no deep introspection and inward calling about what “drove him” to commit such atrocities, for me to point out this OBVIOUS statement.

    It’s 100% on him, 0% on some community or ourselves or our species.

  9. RW,

    The universe I see rarely has absolutes… and those are never about human beings. I’m glad that the certainity you feel gives you meaning. It simply does not for me. The world I see and the human species I know is never that clear… always complex.

    And I believe we should always seek to understand that complexity. No one ever does anything for a single reason or a simple set of reasons.

    I wish you well.

    Yours in Faith,


  10. Ah, relative moralism. Okay. ‘splains everything.

    I wish you well, too. Have a good one.


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