One out of 10,000
- Not everyone of Middle Eastern heritage is an Arab. There also are Israelis, Persians, Kurds, Assyrians, Pashtuns, Armenians and more.
- Not everyone with roots in the Middle East is Muslim.
- There are an estimated 10,000 Muslims in the United States Army. I can't find statistics on how many of them are of Middle Eastern heritage, nor can I find numbers on how many people of Middle Eastern heritage who practice other religions are in the Army.
- Of the 10,000 Muslims in the U.S. Army, only one of them killed fellow soldiers this week.
The rest went about their jobs - their duties - in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Germany, in the United States. And they did so under greater - and undeserved - scrutiny this week.
Normally sane, rational people said they were on edge here Thursday night, fearing a copycat. If you feared a copycat, that pretty much means you were fearing your spouse's fellow soldiers. Soldiers who did nothing to deserve that. Soldiers who were just as scared as you were.
Normally irrational people amped it up a notch, calling for the military to throw out all people with Middle Eastern roots. Fox New's Brian Kilmeade didn't go quite that far though he did question whether the Army should have "special debriefings" for Muslims in the Army.
I understand that rhetoric gets heated at times like this. I sat in meetings in the months after 9.11 when a fellow manager - a person who's not normally a racist - didn't think twice about throwing out the occasional "Middle Eastern psychos"to describe an entire region of the world. If you asked this person today about those statements, there would probably be a quick denial. Crisis just seems to bring out the worst in some people, making them vulnerable to believing things they wouldn't ordinarily.
The Army will overcome this. You learn in Basic Combat Training that you're a maggot, regardless of your skin color. It's a lesson that lingers and bridges many divides that exist in the civilian world.
The Kilmeades of the world will never overcome it. My hope is that the rest of the sane, rational people in the country can, and quickly.
"Pray for the families of the victims! Don't hate each other for one man's actions." U.S. Army Spc. Aveed Ali Shah, via Twitter.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.