Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 544, November 15, 2009

Life goes on.

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Some Thoughts About Fort Hood
by L. Neil Smith

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
First published at "L. Neil Smith at Random"

Almost from the instant the American people learned that a United States Army Major—and psychiatrist—one Nidal Malik Hasan, had murdered a dozen unarmed individuals at Fort Hood, Texas, and wounded around two and a half dozen more before being taken out of action by a courageous young police officer, my Inbox began filling with bigoted garbage.

"Muslims are all murderous fanatics!" "Islam isn't even a real religion!" "Muslims want to kill your grand—" Sorry, that's Nancy Pelosi.

It is ironic—but hardy surprising—that a military base, just like the nation's public schools and airports, should become another of those zones of enforced helplessness that attract mass murderers. The Army does everything it can to keep weapons and ammunition out of the hands of soldiers until the very moment they become necessary aids to imposing its will on others, and it always has, so this is no new phenomenon.

Much—almost everything, to be precise—has been made of the fact that Hasan had an Arabic name, was the son of immigrants from the middle east (for all that they were living the American Drean and he was American born and raised) and was a practicing Muslim. Even worse (or possibly better), he objected out loud to this government's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. All this became proof positive (to those with holes in their heads, from radio talk show hosts with audiences in the tens of millions to the lowliest xenophobic scrapings at the bottom of the Internet) that he was a jihadist, a conspirator, and that the entire Muslim world exists only to kill, cook, and eat Christian babies.

"Onward Muslim soldiers, marching as to war—"

Oops, that's a Christian hymn, isn't it?

I'd be equally justified saying that Hasan's crimes simply confirm certain suspicions that I've had about psychiatrists for more than 40 years.

For a long time, I have wanted to say, clearly and unmistakably, that all human institutions are born, develop, grow, evolve, and die. This is the year 1430 in the Muslim calendar, duly commemorating the beginning of their religion in Mohammed's Hejira, his pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca, a sacred event to all Muslims everywhere, and a journey each and every one of them aspires—and is required—to emulate.

Did you get that date? It's important: 1430 A.D., or C.E., as those afflicted with political correctness have it. Some 579 years ago.

So what was our civilization—western European civilization—doing in the 1430th year since its main religion, Christianity, was founded?

To begin with, the Holy Inquisition was a going concern and had been for about 200 years. Individuals who happened to disagree with a nasty, Europe-wide, theocratic dictatorship over something as trivial as interpretation of the Bible or the punctuation in the Common Book of Prayer, were burned with coals, poked with various sharp objects, some heated to a yellow glow, got put into various kinds of machinery that crushed their extremities or stretched their bodies until they were hopelessly crippled or dead. Sometimes they were burned at the stake.

At about the same time in northern France, a completely untrained and entirely self-appointed—but charismatic—young warrior heard voices that were attributed to one Catholic saint or another, gathered a huge, armed gang together, and went on a deadly rampage against the legitimate local authorities, sacking towns and murdering tens of thousands on behalf of those whose wish was to become the new local authorities.

The only reason Joan of Arc isn't recalled in the annals of history as a terrorist is that she didn't have pipe bombs. Eventually she was sold out to the enemy by her own side, and burned at the stake.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

All of that was in our year 1430. Today, in the Muslim year 1430, there can be little doubt that Islam could benefit from an additional 579 years in which to mature. The Muslim world, comprising some 1.6 billion individuals, a little more than a quarter of the population of the Earth, many of them under the thumbs of tyrants and fanatics we helped put in power, needs to develop a healthy and dynamic secular culture, or to stop trying to suppress the one it already has, and hold religion to its proper station, as America's First Amendment has done.

It only took us 1787 years.

All of that to one side, I seriously doubt that Hasan's religious views or opinions about foreign policy had very much to do with his religion. (Although my wife asks, what would the Taliban or Al Qaeda have done to Hasan, an American Muslim, if they'd captured him?) That guy in Cleveland with all the bodies—Anthony Sowell—did anybody ask him what religion he practices? How about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold?

Put another way, would you like it if the west were judged by the actions and attitudes of a Jerry Falwell, a Cotton Mather, or a Savarola?

The problem with Hasan was Hasan. If he'd been Irish, he'd have shouted "Erin go bragh!" as he shot his victims. If he were Hispanic, it would have been "Viva la Raza!" And none of that would have been important—nor would it have reflected on the Irish or the Hispanic—because the whole point was just to kill and kill, no matter the excuse.

Hasan was so miserable he wanted to die, and misery loves company.

When Columbine happened, I said don't ask why it happened. There wasn't any reason that would make sense to a rational human being. I say the same thing now about Fort Hood. But more than that, don't let politicians get away with "dancing in the blood" of Hasan's innocent victims.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Where We Stand: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels. Links to Neil's books at are on his website


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