Where religion, hate and madness intersect

In my latest for the Guardian, I look back at several notorious killings inspired by religion (including the 1994 abortion-clinic attacks in Boston) — and wonder why such incidents receive so much more attention when the murderer is a Muslim.

Terrorism, Islam and Fort Hood

Jay Fitzgerald has a great post on the Muslim-terrorism meme that’s being flogged by some on the right following the Fort Hood tragedy. He writes:

Here’s a challenge to conservatives: What specifically would they do to prevent these types of attacks in the future? It’s put up or shut up time.

And Fitzgerald wrote that before today’s non-Muslim terrorism attack in Orlando.

Let’s be clear: Nidal Malik Hasan may well have been motivated by religion. But does it matter? We have a history of mass murders in this country because, sometimes, tragically, someone just goes off. Religion is a symptom, not a cause.

In today’s New York Post, the novelist Ralph Peters begins his commentary thusly:

On Thursday afternoon, a radicalized Muslim US Army officer shouting “Allahu Akbar!” committed the worst act of terror on American soil since 9/11.

You know what? I didn’t even bother to keep reading. Thirteen people died in the Fort Hood attack. Thirty-two were slaughtered at Virginia Tech in 2007. Then again, the Virginia Tech killer, Seung-Hui Cho, wasn’t a Muslim.

Rather than looking for a group to blame, we’d be better off celebrating the heroism of Sgt. Kimberly Munley, who shot Hasan, stopped his killing spree, and was injured while so doing. Patrik Jonsson has a terrific story in the Christian Science Monitor on how Munley applied the lessons learned at Virginia Tech.

In short: Move in and start shooting.