Media coverage was bound to focus on the religion of Nidal Hasan, who
on Thursday rampaged through Fort Hood military base in Texas. Hasan,
an American Muslim of Palestinian heritage, would have
still made headlines if he were white and Christian. There is no
evidence that Hasan's religion played a role in his shooting. But with America waging two wars in Muslim nations, while boasting a large and prosperous population of Muslim Americans at home, a certain tension lurks beneath the surface. Journalist Reihan Salam knew that Hasan's
shooting could release that tension. In the Daily
Beast, Salam explains why we should all be worried about Hasan's "collateral damage" to Muslim-Americans:
What Hasan has done, regardless of his motivation, is sow fear and anxiety among millions of Muslim Americans, who have served in the years since the 9/11 terror attacks as America's secret weapon against Islamic radicalism. The prosperity and religious freedom enjoyed by Muslims in America contrasts rather well against the grinding poverty and violent oppression faced by those living under Islamist rule.
And though there are pockets of distrust, far more Americans worry that Muslims face discrimination than hold negative views of Muslims. The danger is that Hasan's despicable crime will subtly and slowly change these perceptions for the worse. Overnight, Twitter feeds and message boards pulsed with anti-Muslim anger. This kind of venting is important to a free society. But it could also be an ominous sign of tensions to come.
Well ahead of other commentators, Salam faces Hasan's religion head on and argues that Hasan made victims out of Muslim-Americans. He shows that Muslim Americans have equal reason to detest or disown Hasan as non-Muslims. "Hasan's other victims are the millions of Muslim Americans who've fully embraced American life, and who feel a profound sense of dread whenever innocent people are murdered in the name of Islam," Salam writes.