11.06.2009

a few quick thoughts on the fort hood shooting

I haven't written about the terrible recent events in Fort Hood for two reasons. One, I am insanely busy. And two, I am both so saddened by and so numb to violent events in my country of origin that I barely have a response. Here are three quick thoughts and one excellent link.

The United States is addicted to violence. It trains its citizenry to use violence, and gives them ample access to weaponry, then feigns surprise at the results.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very serious condition. Veterans with PTSD have killed their wives and their families and their neighbours before. It's a terrible thing, but not a new thing. One way to reduce the effects of PTSD on society, guaranteed to work, would be to stop sending people to war.

And finally, none of us should be surprised by the racist response to the event, as United States is an incredibly racist society. But we should all speak out against it.

Fort Hood Shootings: Don't Let Racism Hide Truth by RedBedHead. Thanks to Michelle for posting on Facebook.

23 comments:

Terri said...

L-girl, you are so right on.

The Mr. and I often remark on how America has literally fallen apart in front of our eyes. We were born in 1975, so we have memories of a time when things didn't seem so out of control all the time. Perhaps we were young and naive. That is possible. But as we've aged in years and wisdom, the complete collapse is mind-blowing. We literally just look at one another and go... when did this happen?

What I find so interesting is that the instant this happened, we instantly knew this man was Muslim. But, when other acts of violence occurs, we don't hear the religion of the suspect immediately. And when we do, we hear "they led a good Christian life," etc. etc. etc. Did this man lead a "good Muslim life"? Remember, McCain said Obama wasn't a Muslim because Obama is a "good family man." The mindset of American media regarding any non-Christian is so obvious during events like this.

L-Girl, I could go on and on and on. The Mr. and I are busily working on getting our paperwork together to join you and others in Toronto. Sure, there is violence in Canada. It's everywhere. But the level of violence between America and Canada... well, needless to say the comparisons don't shed a positive light on America.

It makes me sad. The Mr. and I are in a lucky position based on education, work experience, income level, etc. that we scored very high on the immigration point worksheets, and my teaching credential will be easily transferred to Canada. We realize how lucky we are to have choices.

Thanks for the thoughtful post. I check you blog daily.

-Terri

johngoldfine said...

I don't understand why PTSD is being talked about in the news, unless the P stands for 'Pre'--as in Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition not yet in DSM, I believe.

The alleged shooter hadn't yet been deployed. He might naturally have been stressed, frightened, unhappy, anxious, angry about that deployment but ordinary stress is not traumatic stress.

L-girl said...

The Mr. and I often remark on how America has literally fallen apart in front of our eyes. We were born in 1975, so we have memories of a time when things didn't seem so out of control all the time. Perhaps we were young and naive.

You were.

You were too young to understand what the US was really doing, and much of it was hidden from you (from all of us).

If you haven't read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, now would be a good time to start.

Thanks for your thoughts, and for reading wmtc. Good luck with the immigration process.

L-girl said...

JohnGoldfine, surely you know that PTSD isn't only acquired by deployment.

A friend of mine, a war resister I have written about, became severely depressed and suffers from serious PTSD from his time stationed at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany. He was a liaison between families of dying veterans and Iraqi civilians (many of them burn victims) and the military. He had no medical or social work training, although who knows if that would have helped.

The shooter is a psychiatrist who served at Walter Reed - also a liaison.

johngoldfine said...

I understand that, l-girl, but I want to keep categories pure if possible.

Depression is not quite the same as PTSD. Hating something, being upset, being frightened, imagining and hearing about horrors might all lead to various mental states, but PTSD...surely that implies witnessing or being involved in rape, battle, murder, disease, death, prison, and so on.

L-girl said...

PTSD...surely that implies witnessing or being involved in rape, battle, murder, disease, death, prison, and so on.

I'm not concerned with keeping categories "pure". The categories are imperfectly defined by imperfect people, and are famously subject to change and revision. After all, homosexuality was listed in the DSM not so very long ago. Among other syndromes and diagnoses, there are a lot of overlap. It's not always so easy to sort out.

However, beyond that, I think that being stationed at Walter Reed would qualify as witnessing some pretty serious trauma.

Obviously there may be many other factors that we don't know anything about. But from what I've heard from my friend about Landstuhl, witnessing that much death, pain, broken bodies and broken spirits is enough to qualify.

johngoldfine said...

That last post of yours is very convincing; I see your point about PTSD, and now...I guess I want to agree with you and withdraw my earlier comments.

Feels funny to be turned around like this!

L-girl said...

It's a credit to both of us - the power of open minds and good discourse.

John F said...

I felt sick to my stomach when I heard the shooter's name. It's hard enough as it is for Muslims and those with a "Middle Eastern appearance".

When things like this happen, I always feel like approaching the Muslims I know and saying something like, "Everything's OK, we're still cool!" Silly, isn't it?

Terri said...

You were too young to understand what the US was really doing, and much of it was hidden from you (from all of us).

Yes, we sure were. I knew my parents didn't vote for, or think very highly of, Reagan or either Bush, but my parents never really talked politics and world events with me.

As I got older, I was interested, but they were never interested in talking about politics and world events. In high school, I took AP Government and for the first time, read something besides the two-but textbooks they handed out. It was Hedrick Smith's The Power Game. For the first time, I was seeing just how ugly it was.

That was in 1993-1994. And since, I've been following, participating, voting, becoming active and involved. It just seems like things are really only getting uglier, nastier and more divisive.

I have the Zinn book, but haven't gotten to it yet. However, I think I may move it ahead in the queue of books to be read.

L-girl said...

John F, I understand completely. I also had the same reaction when I heard his name.

I remember after the Oklahoma City bombing, all the pundits pronouncing that the attack "had all the hallmarks" of Middle Eastern terrorism. And that was long ago, pre-9/11. It's gotten so much worse since then.

L-girl said...

Terri, you might want to approach it like I did - read a chapter or two, put it down, read something a bit lighter, read another chapter or two, read something else, and so on. It's so heavy, especially the beginning, the country's early roots in genocide and slavery, that it can be hard to take. But it's an amazing book, so inspiring in so many ways.

Another good book to give you a perspective on US history is "Overthrow" by Stephen Kinzer. It's very accessible, very readable. It will show you how the invasion of Iraq was anything but unprecedented - how it was completely in keeping with US foreign policy through the decades.

L-girl said...

When I described "Overthrow" to one of my resister friends, he asked if it was a 20-volume set that was carted around in a wheelbarrow. :)

redsock said...

It could have been, but I recall you saying he decided to focus on "regine changes" of a very specific nature.

L-girl said...

Right. Like any author, he had to define his terms. In the intro, he lists all the overthrows that didn't qualify under his criteria.

Hey, the list of ones that did is long enough. It starts with Hawaii and ends with Iraq.

redsock said...

Dahr Jamail, Truthout:

The soldier says that the mood on the base is “very grim,” and that even before this incident, troop morale has been very low.

“I’d say it’s at an all-time low - mostly because of Afghanistan now,” he explained. “Nobody knows why we are at either place, and I believe the troops need to know why they are there, or we should pull out, and this is a unanimous feeling, even for folks who are pro-war.”

In a strikingly similar incident on May 11, 2009, a US soldier gunned down five fellow soldiers at a stress-counseling center at a US base in Baghdad. ...

The shocking story of a soldier killing five of his comrades does not come as a surprise when we consider that the military has, for years now, been sending troops with untreated PTSD back into the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to an Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center analysis, reported in the Denver Post in August 2008, more than “43,000 service members -- two-thirds of them in the Army or Army Reserve -- were classified as nondeployable for medical reasons three months before they deployed” to Iraq.

Mark Thompson also has reported in Time magazine, “Data contained in the Army’s fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report indicate that, according to an anonymous survey of US troops taken last fall, about 12 percent of combat troops in Iraq and 17 percent of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills to help them cope.”

In April 2008, the RAND Corporation released a stunning report revealing, “Nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan - 300,000 in all - report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, yet only slightly more than half have sought treatment.”

President Barack Obama, speaking during an event at the Department of the Interior in Washington, said that the mass shooting at Fort Hood was a "horrific outburst of violence".

*******

And what you are continuing to do in Afghanistan and Iraq is what, Mr. Obama?

L-girl said...

And what you are continuing to do in Afghanistan and Iraq is what, Mr. Obama?

Mr. Peace Prize finds the violence horrific. Plus he's great because he saluted a coffin.

redsock said...

Greenwald, Nov 3, 2009, on Maher Arar:

It's not often that an appellate court decision reflects so vividly what a country has become, but such is the case with yesterday's ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Arar v. Ashcroft (.pdf). ...

Yesterday, the Second Circuit -- by a vote of 7-4 ... held that even if the [US] government violated Arar's Constitutional rights as well as statutes banning participation in torture, he still has no right to sue for what was done to him. Why?

Because "providing a damages remedy against senior officials who implement an extraordinary rendition policy would enmesh the courts ineluctably in an assessment of the validity of the rationale of that policy and its implementation in this particular case, matters that directly affect significant diplomatic and national security concerns" (p. 39). In other words, government officials are free to do anything they want in the national security context -- even violate the law and purposely cause someone to be tortured -- and courts should honor and defer to their actions by refusing to scrutinize them.

Reflecting the type of people who fill our judiciary, the judges in the majority also invented the most morally depraved bureaucratic requirements for Arar to proceed with his case and then claimed he had failed to meet them. Arar did not, for instance, have the names of the individuals who detained and abused him at JFK, which the majority said he must have. As Judge Sack in dissent said of that requirement: it "means government miscreants may avoid [] liability altogether through the simple expedient of wearing hoods while inflicting injury" (p. 27; emphasis added). ...

This is precisely how the character of a country becomes fundamentally degraded when it becomes a state in permanent war. So continuous are the inhumane and brutal acts of government leaders that the citizens completely lose the capacity for moral outrage and horror. ...

This is exactly why I find so objectionable and dangerous the ongoing embrace by the Obama administration of these same secrecy and immunity weapons. ..

Dharma Seeker said...

Given that the accused was trained to be either a psychologist or psychiatrist (can't remember which and too lazy to check) I wonder if he had already begun to treat people who had been in combat. Providing therapy is one of the most intensely stressful occupations I can think of, and I doubt the preparation provided by the military is sufficient for what these men and women will be dealing with.

L-girl said...

He was a psychiatrist, treating patients in Walter Reed, a huge military hospital complex where many wounded vets are patients.

Also where horrendous conditions were exposed last year. Support our troops.

Dharma Seeker said...

From the snippets I've heard he joined the military because of a sense of patriotism but was not allowed to leave because the military paid for his education. I know the military infamously recruits in poor areas. If education and opportunity were universally accessible I doubt the military would have enough men and women enlisted to even wage this senseless war.

Dharma Seeker said...

And that's not exclusive to the US either. A person I've known since elementary school enlisted in the Canadian Army about six years ago because his area of expertise was IT and he couldn't find a job.

L-girl said...

No one's allowed to leave the US military these days.

It's not exclusive to the US, but it's much, much worse there in this regard. There's so much more poverty, no health care, and education is much more expensive. (Not that it's cheap here, but it's at least 4 times as much in the US.)