Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Special Kind of Selfishness

Last week's horrific attack at Fort Hood left me very sad, baffled, and concerned on several levels. After the initial shock of "what?" and taking in the "who, what, why, how" bit by bit, I started to worry about my husband.

It's a special kind of selfishness, this concern for a man who has nothing to do with the tragedy that's stirring up strong emotions across the country, and yet I can't help myself. In the back of my mind, I'm always concerned for his safety, and it's not because he drives a bit fast (he is, overall, a very good and safe driver).

There is a look he gets, not every day but some days, an accusing look that has nothing to do with anything but his skin color and what people think it means. He is good-natured about these glances, and it's hard to imagine that there would ever be any physical contact associated with them, but still, I worry. My concern is that the mentality behind statements like, "Maybe Muslims shouldn't serve in the U.S. military" will someday create a dangerous situation for people who are perceived to be Middle Eastern.

I know, it's fantastical thinking, and the likelihood of something like that happening in our city seems slim. Yet last week, the thought of soldiers being killed by a soldier on the largest U.S. military base in the world was unthinkable, and this week, we're still trying to understand why and how that happened. And after a while, all I can think is, "Well, crap. Clearly, the world's gone mad. Anything can happen now."

The other thing I think at times like this, and that makes me utterly crazy, is that I should be careful about what I say and write. Such is the polarized nature of our country right now: There are people who think that there is only one correct response, and that any other response indicates anti-Americanism. There is no room for nuance, no space for debate.

So let me be very clear: I have no sympathy for that man. He is very sick, and what he did was horrendous. My fervent hope is that by studying how this happened, the authorities can make sure that nothing like this will ever happen again, that no mother will ever have to be told that her child was killed by someone who was trained to heal people.

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