Rachel Maddow wants you to stop referring to Nidal Hasan as a terrorist. Please. You know what short fuses they have.
Responding to Republicans' condemnation of Hasan's actions as terrorism, Maddow furrowed her brow and played devil's advocate, as befitting an honorary member of the al Qaeda Legal Defense Foundation --
MADDOW: Remember this one? Yes, it is the old paint-the-Democrats-as-soft-on-terror routine. But in order to play that politicizing terrorism, anti-Democrat greatest hit, the Fort Hood case has to be terrorism. Regardless of how you feel about the political issue of politicizing terrorism, it's worth asking -- was Fort Hood, technically speaking, terrorism? It's not just a political question. It's not just a judgment call. It's not just a matter of taste. It's a question to which there is an answer, a legal answer. And the charges today didn't include anything related to terrorism.
Terrorism is not just conceptual political jargon. This is a legal term and it has, interestingly, changed over the past few years. In order for something to be legally considered terrorism, do you have to be taking instructions from a terrorist group? Do you have to have some sort of clear political motive behind the violence? Is it about the way that you commit the crime? What sort of weapons that you use in doing? Is it about how many people that you kill in your crime? Is it about the specific type of people you target, whether they're civilian or military?
If you're interested in more than just making political hay out of the Fort Hood case, these are the sort of legitimate questions you would want to ask before labeling this, or any case, an instance of terrorism. Those who are calling this terrorism are making their case in large part because Major Hasan is a Muslim and because he is alleged to have said, God is great, before the shootings. And while it might make for exciting politics to argue that murders committed by religious Muslims are presumptively terrorist acts, those exciting political allegations actually say a lot more about the people making them than they do about the real character of the tragedy at Fort Hood and how we as a country should respond to it.
That's Maddow on her MSNBC show Nov. 12. What a contrast to her first MSNBC broadcast after the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller in late May. Here's how Maddow described it right at the start of her show June 1 (click here for link to YouTube video) --
MADDOW: We begin tonight with another deadly act of domestic terrorism.
As Maddow said this, a photo of Tiller was shown situated above the word TERRORISM in capitalized block letters, lest anyone miss the point.
Maddow proceeded to describe a chronology of violence in the last two decades by the "modern anti-abortion terrorist movement in America." For good measure, she mentioned the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which Maddow said was "a terrorist act committed by an anti-abortion extremist."
Here's what Maddow also said on June 1 to bolster her contention that Scott Roeder, Tiller's accused killer, had engaged in an act of terrorism (the embedded video starts with Maddow's remarks on Nov. 12, then shows a portion from her show on June 1, and finishes with another segment from Nov. 12. The YouTube clip linked above shows the June 1 segment in its entirety) --
MADDOW (initially referring to Roeder): He's known in extremist, anti-abortion circles. He has had writings published in a newsletter called Prayer & Action News which promotes the idea of killing people who provide abortion services as justifiable homicide. Someone calling himself Scott Roeder had participated in anti-abortion discussions at a website of the group called Operation Rescue.
Much as Hasan's name appears on "radical Internet postings," the Associated Press reported Nov. 5. "At least six months ago, Hasan came to the attention of the law enforcement officials because of Internet postings about suicide bombings and other threats, including posts that equated suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades," the AP story reads.
More from Maddow on June 1 --
MADDOW: The group's founder, Randall Terry (of Operation Rescue), spoke at the National Press Club today and celebrated Dr. George Tiller's death.
A response foreshadowing that of radical imam Anwar al Awlaki (whom Maddow keeps referring to as a "cleric," as if he's no different than those fiery Christians), who praised Hasan as a "hero" and "a man of conscience."
To bolster her case, Maddow invited frequent guest Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, on her show Nov. 12. Turley, who as a guest on June 1 was more circumspect than Maddow in describing Tiller's murder as terrorism, was more receptive to her point of view this time around --
TURLEY: Criminal investigators and lawyers and judges don't have the luxury that some people have on television to just simply say this must be terrorism, why?, because we want it to be terrorism. Words have meaning in the criminal code and that's what brings the integrity to the code, it brings its legitimacy. And you can't just simply say that because somebody kills a large number of people that it's terrorism. There are plenty of people that act out of rage. If you take away a few of the aspects of this case, you would have a typical disgruntled worker shooting.
Just as if you ignored a "few of the aspects" of the Manson murders -- the victims, for example -- the man who set their deaths in motion might now be just another graying, pony-tailed hippie.
I'm not a legal scholar, as the saying goes, but it's my understanding that guilt is determined on the basis of evidence against the accused, by jurors asked to refrain from overlooking problematic "aspects" of a case.
The willful ignorance of Maddow and like-minded leftists in response to the Fort Hood terrorist attack reminds me of a scene in the Steve Martin movie "The Jerk" and the title character's response to a sniper trying to kill him (1:15 into YouTube clip linked here) -- "He hates these cans! Stay away from the cans!"