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In the wake of the Fort Hood massacre in November 2009, the editorial board of the New York Times urged:
In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.
President Obama was right when he told Americans, “we don’t know all the answers yet” and cautioned everyone against “jumping to conclusions.”
Unverified reports, some from his family members, suggest that Major Hasan complained of harassment by fellow soldiers for being a Muslim, that he hoped to get out of a deployment to Afghanistan, that he sought a discharge from the Army and that he opposed the American military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were reports that some soldiers said they had heard him shout “God is Great” in Arabic before he started firing. But until investigations are complete, no one can begin to imagine what could possibly have motivated this latest appalling rampage.
There may never be an explanation. And, certainly, there can never be a justification.
For now, all that can be said is that our hearts go out to the families of the 12 soldiers and one civilian killed. And we are hoping for the fast recovery of all those who were wounded, including Kimberly Munley, a civilian police officer stationed at the base, who shot Major Hasan and ended the killing.
Yet for some reason, that sense of caution was strangely absent in today’s editorial on the tragic shooting in Arizona:
It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.
That whirlwind has touched down most forcefully in Arizona, which Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described after the shooting as the capital of “the anger, the hatred and the bigotry that goes on in this country.” Anti-immigrant sentiment in the state, firmly opposed by Ms. Giffords, has reached the point where Latino studies programs that advocate ethnic solidarity have actually been made illegal.
Its gun laws are among the most lenient, allowing even a disturbed man like Mr. Loughner to buy a pistol and carry it concealed without a special permit. That was before the Tucson rampage. Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.