The following are excerpts of editorials in newspapers from across New England:
Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who shouted “Allahu akbar!” and opened fire at Fort Hood, in Texas, killing 13 people and wounding 30 others, has been found guilty on all counts. He refused to defend himself and apparently wants to be executed. That would make him a martyr to Islam, at least in his own mind.
A jury in the military proceedings against Hasan Aug. 28 sentenced him to be executed. We oppose the death penalty. Others do not. But what remains especially irksome to many Americans, and especially Hasan’s victims and their families, is the Army’s decision to categorize the crime as “workplace violence.”
That should be changed.
Hasan’s attack on American soldiers was an act of terrorism. Its designation is more than a matter of semantics. Health and other benefits to injured survivors and the rights of their families and those of the deceased to damages in civil suits are reduced if the act is designated as workplace violence. That is unfair to all involved.
Even more important, the designation is a crime against the facts and the truth. Hasan planned the attack because, he said, he opposes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. He acted on the basis of beliefs characterized (and not denied by him) as Islamist — the violent strain of fanatical Islam that motivates most recent terrorist attacks overseas and in the United States.
The U.S. government should not be trying to minimize the threat that terrorism poses to the peace of the world, the safety of Americans and U.S. interests abroad.
An official decision to go into denial regarding terrorism seems the only rationale for calling Hasan’s attack “workplace violence” — other than the pusillanimous desire to save money by withholding service benefits from deserving military families.