There's a big debate over at the dallasnews.com opinion blog about a Muslim's central role in the Fort Hood massacre. The general sentiment seems to be that the government overlooked far too many "warning signs" of Hasan's extremism and that this oversight was due to a culture of political correctness that overvalues diversity and refuses to acknowledge the "Muslim threat". Most posts lament the government's failure to "take action sooner" against Hasan.
Now, followers of this blog know that I don't usually defend the government, but in this case I'm not sure when exactly these critics would have had the government act against Hasan and what exactly they would have had it do? Until the day of the shooting, Hasan had never committed any known crime. True, he spoke critically of US policy toward Muslims, but so do lots of people. He apparently articulated some radical ideas on occasion, but it was often not clear whether these ideas were his own or whether he was simply informing others of the enemy's thought process as part of his duties as any army psychologist. Yes, he had contacts with some radical Muslims, but these contacts could also be explained in part by his job duties.
In short, although I favor racial and religious profiling (for obvious reasons), we must never forget that one's race or religion is only one factor to be considered as part of an overall profile. It certainly is not determinative. And government cannot "take action" against a person based on his or her racial or religious background without compelling justification.
To illustrate the point, consider the following: Why aren't all these people who are so alarmed about "Muslim terrorists" in our midst equally alarmed about all the "Christian pedophiles" among us? I mean, think about it for a minute: Most every high-profile case of child sexual abuse or pedophilia over the last fifteen years has involved...Christians. The biggest example is probably the the hundreds of catholic sex abuse cases, but there are many, many others. The kidnapper of Elizabeth Smart was motivated by his Christian religion (yes, Mormons consider themselves Christian). As was David Koresh, and Warren Jeffs, and Tony Alamo.
And whether or not they were specifically motivated by their faith, a great many other Christians seem to find young children irresistible. Consider this massive collection of news stories of Christians abusing children on church premises or at church functions. And now it turns out that three of the seven members of the Mohler Family were lay ministers.
So, given this history, and if we are to apply the same standard to Christians as Muslims, shouldn't we be prepared to "act sooner" and intervene anytime a Christian exhibits "warning signs", such as...oh...regularly volunteering to lead a youth group or to teach children's Sunday school classes? Shouldn't we have church or government spies monitor such persons' activities for a year or two to insure that they have no ill intent? (I'm being facetious, of course)
An offended Christian might argue that Muslim Jihadist are different than Christian pedophiles because the former do their terrible acts in the name of their religion. But, didn't also Brian David Mitchel and Warren Jeffs and Tony Alamo and David Koresh and many others also justify their sex crimes by their interpretation of Christianity?
An offended Christian could argue that pedophiles aren’t “true Christians”, but many Muslims can (and do) argue that terrorists aren’t true Muslims. (Regardless though, such arguments are indicative of the “No True Scotsman” logical fallacy and are therefore completely unpersuasive).
An offended Christian could argue that most terrorists attacks these days are committed by Muslims, but Muslims could persuasively argue that most acts of pedophilia or child sex abuse (at least in the US) are committed by Christians of one variety or another.
An offended Christian could argue that Jihad is officially tolerated by elements within Islam, but pedophilia has been officially tolerated by certain elements within Christianity (witness again the churches of Warren Jeffs and David Koresh and Tony Alamo and even the Catholic church’s “willful ignorance” of priestly abuses). Such behavior is not overly difficult to rationalize on biblical grounds: A variety of Christian sects simply argue that pedophilia cannot exist within marriage, so marry 'em young and you're fine! After all, the Jewish patriarchs did it that way.
I could continue, but the long and short of it is that, if we are going to permit racial and religious profiling (and I believe we should because they are effective), we must always remember that the race or religion of the profiled is only one factor to be considered. In short, we should be no more or less paranoid about Muslim terrorists than we are Christian pedophiles. Those who would have had the government "take action sooner" against Hasan should remember that.