Like many of you, I was shocked — shocked — to learn that the treacherous Fort Hood murderer was a disgruntled Muslim, it being a religion of peace and all, but the world is filled with insanity. Even stranger was his connection to Virginia Tech, whose community is understandably bristly at the observation that its production of mass murderers per full-time student is a bit higher than the average from other universities outside Saudi Arabia.
The most surreal moment of early news coverage had to be the televised phone call with the killer’s cousin, who insisted that Hasan, his 55 unfortunate casualties aside, is a “good American.” Now, I know I can be overly picky when it comes to words, but I think that when you take up a gun and begin executing your fellow soldiers, all of whom by not being bloody turncoats are your moral and spiritual betters, you lose the good citizenship award. Maybe Hasan had perfect attendance at his crappy little bureaucratic pscyhobabble job, and so he can still make the honor roll on that count, but no, you don’t get to call him a good American. A dead American, if the wheels of justice turn true, but not a good one.
This seems to be the thing with family members of scoundrels who get themselves into the news, where they insist that the murderer/rapist/spy/all-around thug is in fact a decent humanitarian who just happened to make a bad choice. Just once before I die, I’d like to hear such a family member hold a press conference to announce that his accused brethren is a low-down, double-dealing, backstabbing, larcenous perverted worm, that hanging’s too good for him, and burning’s too good for him, and that he should be torn into little bitsy pieces and buried alive. To borrow quite literally from that great American cinema classic, Heavy Metal.
All of which is to say that increasingly when I bother to watch the news I come away feeling like the world is not en route to hell, but has already arrived at the bottom floor.