Friday, November 6, 2009


Like everyone, I'm sad about the massacre at Ft. Hood. Learning that some of the dead and wounded were recently returned from overseas was almost too much to absorb. I understand how an unstable, paranoid person becomes obsessed with killing a public figure. I understand how an immature person, in a fit of rage, kills an intimate partner. I even understand how someone can nurse a grudge long enough to become murderous. What I absolutely cannot understand is how someone goes out and kills strangers who have never done anything to him personally. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Which I guess is a good thing.

Here's another thing that makes me sad, although in a completely different way. Just about an hour ago, the CNN commentator said, "We're still trying to determine the shooter's nationality . . . " and I've heard several others say almost exactly the same thing. Let's all take a minute to remember that this shooter, like McVeigh and Klebold and Harris and most of the others, was an American. He may turn out to be a particularly evil or sick American but he is one of us. There seems to be this pervasive sense that there are "real Americans"--white, Christian, native-born--and then there are "not really Americans"--in this case, brown, Muslim, born to immigrant parents. It reminds me of the appalling moment 20 years ago when the chief of the LAPD referred to "black people" and "normal people." If we're going to be the nation of immigrants that we've always been, we've got to figure this out, even when one of our own has committed the ultimate betrayal.

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