Nidal Malik Hasan was two men.
One was the proud Army major who wore battle fatigues to mosque; the other, the proud Arab who wore Muslim garb in civilian life.
What brought Hasan’s identities into fatal conflict was his belief that Iraq and Afghanistan were unjust wars, and his shock that he, a Muslim, was to be sent to serve in one of those wars, against fellow Muslims — a sin against Allah meriting damnation.
Hasan was conflicted by a dual loyalty — to the country he had sworn to protect, and to his perceived duty as a Muslim. When Hasan told his neighbor that morning, "I am going to do good work for God," the call of jihad overrode his oath of loyalty as an American soldier.
Hasan proceeded to shoot, wound or kill 44 U.S. soldiers, and was willing to die on what he saw as the side of right, the side of Islam, against America. "Allahu Akbar!" — "God is great!" — Hasan shouted as he began firing.
An Internet posting by "Nidal Hasan" compared suicide bombers to medal-of-honor winners who throw themselves on grenades to save fellow soldiers. Hasan had decided to become a suicider for Allah.
Though this was an act of treachery against his fellow soldiers, of treason in wartime, of terrorism and mass murder, Hasan must have seen himself as a hero and martyr.
Few ever commit atrocities like this. But conflicts in identities and loyalties are common in the cauldrons of war.
"Let none but Americans stand guard tonight," said Washington at Valley Forge. Irish Catholics deserted the Union army to fight beside Mexican Catholics in the San Patricio battalion against what they thought was American aggression. Honored today by Mexico, the San Patricios were hanged when captured by Winfield Scott’s army.
In Scott’s march to Mexico City was Robert E. Lee. The hero of Buena Vista was Col. Jefferson Davis, who had married the daughter of his commanding officer, future President Zachary Taylor. Davis went on to serve in the Cabinet of Franklin Pierce and the U.S. Senate.
Yet, in 1861, Davis and Lee would depart the service of their country to wage war against the United States on behalf of their new nation and the kinfolk to whom they belonged and whom they believed had a right to be free of the Union. Were they traitors — or patriots?
This is not to compare the deeds of the San Patricios, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, all of whom declared themselves openly and fought heroically and honorably, with the crimes of Maj. Hasan.
But it is to raise the issue of conflicting loyalties in the hearts of men in a nation that has declared religious, racial and ethnic diversity to be not only a national good but a national goal.
Whence came this idea? No previous generation believed this.
In World War I, Wilson feared that if he went to war, German-Americans might march on Washington. FDR was so fearful that the blood ties of Japanese citizens and residents would trump their loyalty to the United States he ordered 110,000 transferred from California to detention camps for the duration of the war.
In Arkansas last year, a Muslim opposed to the U.S. wars shot two soldiers at a recruitment center, killing one. In Kuwait, before the invasion of Iraq, a Muslim soldier threw a grenade into the tent of his commanding officer, killing two and wounding 14.
This is not to suggest that all American Muslims or Arabs should be citizens under suspicion. Muslims have died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, as German-Americans died fighting against Germany in two world wars. But it is to say this:
America is unraveling. No longer are we one nation and one people. Tens of millions have come and tens of millions are coming whose first loyalty is to the kinfolk and country they left behind, and to the faith they carry in their hearts. And if, in our long war against "Islamofascism," we are seen as trampling on their nation, faith or kinsmen, they will see us, as Hasan came to see us, as the enemy of their sacred identity.
There is no American Melting Pot anymore. It was discarded by our elites as an instrument of cultural genocide. Now we celebrate America as the most multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural country on earth, the Universal Nation of Ben Wattenberg’s warblings.
And, yet, we are surprised by ethnic espionage in our midst, the cursing of America from mosques in our cities, the news that Somali immigrants are going home to fight our Somali allies, and that illegal aliens march under Mexican flags to demand American citizenship.
Eisenhower’s America was a nation of 160 million with a Euro-Christian core and a culture all its own. We were a people then. And when we have become, in 2050, a stew of 435 millions, of every creed, culture, color and country of Earth, what holds us together then?