The Corner

Political Correctness and the Ft. Hood Shooting

“Overseas, you are ready for it. But here, you can’t even defend yourself,” said Jerry Richard, a Fort Hood solider who was nearby when Major Nidal Hasan went on his shooting rampage.

What do the Pentagon bureaucrats have to say about that? If soliders on this base had been allowed to carry the weapons they use overseas, the service weapons they train with, Hasan would have been able to shoot perhaps one or two people, not 41. (As of this writing, 13 are dead, 28 wounded.)

“It’s a tragedy to lose soldiers overseas and even more horrifying when they come under fire at an Army base on U.S. soil,” said President Obama.

Indeed. How ironic: Survive Iraq or Afghanistan then get picked off like a game bird in a bland, institutional “Soldier Readiness Center” in Texas.

Soldiers in other countries are allowed to carry arms on base and even when they are off-duty. In Israel, for instance, soldiers are issued a rifle and then . . . it’s theirs. One sees slender 18-year-old girls, traveling from base, home to the suburbs for Shabbat dinner, still slung with a massive M-16 rifle almost as big as they are. The prevelance of arms doesn’t mean the country experiences the kind of random mass murders seen in the United States. It means that the few times someone has gone crazy with a gun in a city street, he was taken down fast by bystanders.

But not American soldiers. When asked if ordinary soldiers nearby had been carrying their service weapons, Fort Hood spokesman Lt. Gen Robert Cone said piously, “We do not carry weapons. This is our home.” Defense is out-sourced to military police, or even — oh the indignity! — to civilian policemen.

This is not the first time American soldiers have been victims of politically correct policies. In 2000, Navy brass were so concerned about appearing to be “sensitive guests” in Yemen’s Port of Aden, that sailors patrolling the deck of the U.S.S. Cole were not allowed to carry loaded weapons. The ship did not deploy “picket boats” and establish a perimeter. In other words, the destroyer was totally unprotected when a small motorized skiff packed with explosives steered by two men, now believed to have been al-Qaeda, plowed into it’s hull, killing 17.

Even two hours after the attack, as the wounded ship listed in the harbor, sentries spotted yet another small skiff motoring deliberately toward the them. One of them raised his rifle and aimed, not to shoot them — he couldn’t have — but in the spirit (as he told Navy Times) of “Nobody’s getting near this ship.” Almost immediately, his superior told him, “Let me tell you somthing about the rules of engagement. You can’t point a loaded weapon at these people. That’s an act of aggression.”

The U.S. military would like to pretend it’s not about defense and aggression, and it’s sacrificed many young men and women to maintain this fiction. How many more victims of political correctness can we afford?

— Stephanie Gutmann is the author of The Kinder, Gentler Military:  How Political Correctness Affects Our Ability to Win Wars.