PEACE PROBE by Gene Stoltzfus


Fort Hood Shootings: Tragedy Waiting to Happen by peaceprobe

Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter was caught in an impossible matrix of shame.  As a Muslim he was asked to support the killing his fellow religionists.  Islam forbids the killing of other Muslims.  As a military man he was belittled and perhaps harassed for his growing Muslim convictions.  Good soldiers do not identify with the enemy.  Every day as a counselor and psychiatrist he was reminded of his impossible dilemma as he listened to the dreadful stories of broken soldiers caught in the vise of post traumatic stress syndrome disorder (PTSD).  Their stories of fatalism, guilt, suicide and other life changing experience in combat killing reminded him that he was a part of the system that kills other Muslims. He was caught between two shaming systems and there was no place to turn for help.

The military does not allow for selective conscientious objection.* Soldiers, including officers of all religious and secular persuasions who try to extricate themselves from previous military commitments are belittled.  And the bureaucratic path leads through months and even years of lonely and tortured hearings, appeals, reviews and rejections. Some go absent without leave (AWOL) only to grow exhausted over time with their semi underground life and loss of hope for a normal life. They may turn themselves in or even join the ranks of the homeless.  In previous wars they were welcomed in countries like Canada where they took up new lives.  Canada is no longer welcoming to objectors.

Objectors who are in uniform tend to act out of the deepest instincts of conscience that is available to them, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, or humanist.  Major Nidal Hasan is one in a long line of soldiers whose deep inner conviction led them to refuse to cooperate.  He did it in a more destructive and dramatic form.  If you want to meet other objectors you can visit Under the Hood Café outside of Fort Hood where G Is with objections to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan congregate.  I met six of them in a recent trip to Austin.  All of them described thoughts of suicide, anguish over their desire to get their lives back, frustration at the way the military refused to believe them when they objected, and counselling sessions with people like Major Hasan that helped little.   In our conversations the group of objectors thoughtfully contemplated various versions of objection, selective conscientious objection (not recognized by the military), complete pacifism (recognized by the military) or continuing to run.   However in the confusion of their stress, I was not sure if one or more of them could turn to violence directed at their families or even aimed at the military.

Like Major Hasan the non Muslim objectors were people who believed what the military recruiters who are required to meet quota, told them.  They thought they would get money for advanced education.  They believed that they were going to fight and kill persons who may terrorize America.  They believed what they would do was right, good, honourable and even heroic.   The reality and innocence of the people they have now killed overwhelms them.  Their consciences were stirred by a more deeply rooted universal respect for human life. When they acted on their conscience it was interpreted as disloyalty to the military and to their nation and their lives are not celebrated like the media reverently acknowledges those who die in America’s wars.

Despite the macho cultures from which these non Muslim soldiers came their bodies and minds are now closed down to more war. For the young soldiers I met in Austin TX, massive killings by air, sea and land were enthusiastically approved and roundly supported by their superiors and political leaders.  Each soldier I talked with has his or her own story of willy nilly, random shootings that are never investigated.  In Major Hasan’s culture, suicide attacks are encouraged as the way to leave a mark or discourage the enemy.  The dominant thread in both cultures is the ancient model, an eye for an eye and both have teachings about just war that are ignored by commanders, soldiers and the religious teachers who back them up.

The lessons from the Fort Hood shootings is one that all of us must hear and believe.  There are great numbers of people returning from the modern battle field who are wounded in spirit.  The belief in a system that threatens, shocks and kills does not bring real security.  We all need to listen to people like Major Hasan and his colleagues at Fort Hood and help them find a way out of the system that is killing them and others.   One way out for them would be a system of selective conscientious objection.  We can press for that.

We can also push for a democracy that provides as many rewards for unarmed warriors, peacemakers and service workers outside the military as those promised to military recruits.  Maybe we should even advocate a draft that  recruits the sons and daughters of the ruling class first.  In the long term we need to press for a dramatic cut in the military budget.  And for all of us who dream of the day when a culture of peacefulness without killing might prevail we need to get serious about all kinds of experiments that build a culture where conflicts are settled without weapons.

*Major Nidal Hasan June 2007 notes for speech at Walter Reed Hospital advocating option for Consciencious Objector status for Muslims in the conclusion.

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12 Comments so far
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Human nature, with all its faults and weaknesses, is subject to The Law of Christ when he declared that hatred – let alone murder – is anathema in The Kingdom !

Meanwhile, Humankind may be inching toward The Promised Land (??) in spite of or maybe
because of Atomic Weapons and huge standing armies.

What strategies should a peace church employ? Is any effort short of bringing the whole Gospel
to bear in the whole world, without compromises, doomed to failure – again, human nature being
what it is?

These Devils release their victims only through prayer and I pledge to you my most earnest
entreaties to this end.

Humbly and confidently, J. B. Shenk

Comment by peaceprobe

This is so apropos, great psychology insights. thanks, Len

Comment by peaceprobe

Your writing here — and usually! — is really so good it needs to be circulated as broadly as possible.
Thank you, and keep the pen moving!

Earl

Comment by peaceprobe

You surely must have heard of the Marine who resigned his command because he could no longer in good conscience send his troops into battle. WM

Comment by peaceprobe

I note the clamour to have this categorized as terrorism, which serves the ancillary purpose of demonizing “them” and thus justifying “us” and sidestepping the hard questions you are raising. TY

Comment by peaceprobe

Gene – An excellent article! Your personal experiences helped you succintly summarize the complex conflicts that lay behind that tragedy that could have been anticipated and prevented. thanks for speaking out. MarySue

Comment by MarySue (Helstern) RosenbergerHappynude

Thanks Gene. I need this on this November 11. I do not object to remembering. I do object to all the flags, national anthems, readings of Flanders Fields and the proclomations that these are heroic deaths to preserve our freedom.

Recently I was part of a local library programme called Living Books. As I finished speaking to a Grade four class one child told me this story.

My great-grandfather was in the second world war. He died last year. After he died my dad told me that was why my great-grandfather drank so much whiskey and became an alcoholic.

Surely finding ways of supporting soldiers who do not want to fight is important work.

Comment by Allan Slater

We do not have a draft!!! he volunteered to get free education!! that is a big difference!!! Otto

Comment by peaceprobe

I appreciate your insights with reference to Major Nidal Hasan. It would be helpful for many if this was written as a letter to the editor of hundreds of our local and national newspapers. BD

response from Gene: Feel free to use this for letters to the editor.

Comment by peaceprobe

Hello,

I am a U.S. military veteran but am now a member of the Church of the Brethren and a supporter of Christian Peacemaker Teams. I just read the piece by Gene Stoltzfus about the shooting at Ft. Hood. I wanted to make sure that I properly understood what he was trying to write so I went to the blog site and read the whole posting.

I wish to object to a number of things that Gene writes in his piece as well as CPT’s decision to forward it through email.

Mr. Stoltzfus takes a dangerous path with his writing. While I don’t disagree that being a devout muslim in the current military situation can put one in a difficult situation, I take issue with several things. The current military action in Iraq has been going on since March of 2003. That is 6 1/2 years by my count. Also, Major Hasan has been serving in the Army for somewhere around 17 or 18 years. During that time, he had never been sent into a conflict zone. He was never in Iraq or Afganistan. If my math is correct, Major Hasan had spent somewhere around 10 1/2 or 11 1/2 years in the Army when the current conflict in Iraq began. Officers in the military are required to serve an initial 8 years of service. After that, they can simply resign their commission and end their military service. While resigning a commission can be a fairly difficult thing to do while one is still serving under their initial 8 years of service, it should be fairly straight forward once that term is completed. Major Hasan should have had ample time and opportunity to leave the Army if he wasn’t willing to “support the killing of his fellow Muslims, which Islam forbids.” On top of that, as I had mentioned earlier, Major Hasan had never served in a war zone so he couldn’t have been suffering from some sort of PTSD as Mr. Stoltzfus seems to imply.

But while I can accept Gene’s potential ignorance of military issues, what troubles me most is that the CPT Director Emeritus almost seems to suggest that Major Hasan’s actions were somehow justified. I can only shudder at the hypocrisy of a leader in the peace field suggesting that violence may be alright in some circumstances. Then he goes on to openly suggest a military “draft that recruits the sons and daughters of the ruling class first.” While I understand that he is simply trying to make a point, he again slips into hypocrisy in his attempt. I would expect a leader in the Christian peace movement to only advocate peaceful measures. Instead he states, “For those of us who dream of the day when a culture of peacefulness without killing might prevail, we need to get serious about all kinds of experiments that build a culture where conflicts are settled without weapons.” Unfortunately, murdering in cold blood those who you have been placed in charge over or forcing violence upon people in a higher social class are some of the experiments he seems to be suggesting.

As I stated earlier, I understand that Mr. Stoltzfus was simply trying to make a point. I would also like to give my strongest support to a system of selective conscientious objection. But I am simply deeply disapointed that he tried to make his point in such a poor manner. Major Hasan had choices. Perhaps some of those choices could have created some difficulties for him in his life. But none of those other choices would have led to the trail of carnage that was left when he made the choice he did. Unfortunately, he conscientiously chose to murder 13 people whom he had been serving alongside for nearly 18 years. I don’t think that is a choice that a Christian Peace organization should be attempting to justify. Lets actually try to live out the peace and love that Christ actually did.

Sincerely in Christ,
Joel Postma

Response from Gene: Joel, your email commenting on my piece reached me a few minutes ago. I am now retired and no longer directly involved with CPT. I wanted to acknowledge receipt of your message. I am generally aware of exit strategies from the military. I am also aware of the strong pressures within the military. Your suggestion that I could have more forthrightly condemned the violence is accepted as thoughtful and sincere. You may be right and if I was in error in this matter and if so I stand corrected.

My main concern was to highlight the problem of a conflicted conscience which I believe to be the primary matter for Fort Hood, a matter that is largely overlooked in the race to find links to organized terror. I have worked with Muslim people for 20 years and I have been close to military people off and on for 40 years. In the context of the present wars there is a significant build in the matrix of shame which should never be overlooked. I believe it to be central to the killings at Fort Hood. Other people may think differently, however I believe that people like you and me will improve the chances of this not happening again with all the moral and human tragedy thereto associated if this point of view is part of the larger discussion.

You will note in his June 2007 notes or power point presentation (see the end of my piece at peaceprobe.wordpress.com for a pointer to it) for his speech to his colleagues at Walter Reed Hospital is closes with a reference and appeal for selective conscientious objection for Muslims. When I wrote the blog I actually did not know that he had in fact said this more than two years ago. I now regard it as an important additional component to the larger discussion of what this means for all of us.

Thank you Joel for your honest and forthright reminders, objections and concerns. I would like to place your comments and my answer on my blog comment section if you give me permission. I thought what you wrote expressed your thoughts very well and I believe you speak for some other voices out there. Conversations around this matter are very important in our common quest for truth and faith in this world. Thank you again. Gene

Joel responds:

Undoubtedly there is a matrix of shame in the military and to a lesser degree most of every day life for that matter. In order for the military to maintain organization and discipline amongst the confusion and fear of a contingency situation, a matrix of shame is necessary to keep everyone’s thoughts and actions in line. Its unfortunate, but it is true. And in the high stress world of a military at war, the matrix of shame saves more lives than it destroys. Certainly, it would be much better if we could live in a world where no armies were necessary, but we aren’t going to see a world such as that as long as we are alive. 6 billion humans simply aren’t capable of that.

I do hope that someday we will see a system that will allow selective conscientious objection. War is a horrible thing. Particularly if someone is being forced to do something that gravely violates their conscience.

Thank you again. I wish you all the best.

Yours in Christ,
Joel Postma

Comment by peaceprobe

Duty to Warn:
The Fort Hood Murders/Suicide and the Taboo Question

Gary G. Kohls, MD

Most of us have been listening to the massive, round-the-clock press coverage of the latest mass shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas. Seemingly all the possible root causes of such a horrific act of violence have been raised and discussed. However, there is an elephant in the room, and it’s something that should be obvious in this age of the school shooter pandemic.

We should be outraged at the failure of the investigative journalists, the psychiatric professionals, the medical community and the military spokespersons who seem to be studiously avoiding the major factor that helps to explain these senseless acts. Why would someone unexpectedly, irrationally and randomly shoot up a school, a workplace or, in this case, an army post? Why would someone who used to be known as a seemingly rational person suddenly perpetrate a gruesome, irrational act of violence?

The answer to the question, as demonstrated again and again in so many of such recent acts of “senseless” violence is brain- and behavior-altering drugs.

There are, of course, a multitude of personal factors, each of which could be responsible for tipping the troubled Army psychiatrist over the edge. This could include his religion and his ethnicity, which may have targeted him for ridicule in his Army community, his training as a soldier, his familiarity with firearms, his easy access to lethal weapons, his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his profession as a psychiatrist, which exposed him to many posttraumatic stress disordered soldiers (exposure to which is known to be capable of causing secondary PTSD in therapists).

The huge missing “elephant” is the high likelihood that Dr. Hasan was medicated with potent brain-altering psychiatric drugs. These would be drugs that Dr. Hasan had easy access to and which he was probably prescribing widely to his psychologically-traumatized soldier-patients, unaware of the serious dangers to them or to himself. These popular, aggressively marketed, highly profitable drugs are known to cause a number of serious adverse effects including hostility, suicidality, sleep alteration, depression, mania and psychotic episodes, among many other psychotoxic and neurotoxic effects, including the potentially lethal “I don’t give a damn” attitude so common among adolescent users of antidepressant drugs.
Obviously, not everyone who takes these drugs commits such horrific crimes, but these drugs affect different people differently, and some have radically adverse side effects immediately, some come later, and it is impossible to predict who may have such a reaction.

Dr. Hasan may not have been aware that the major common denominator in the vast majority of the infamous “school shooters”, from Columbine shooter Eric Harris, to Red Lake shooter Jeff Wiese, to the Virginia Tech shooter Cho has been the use of prescription “antidepressant” drugs like Luvox, Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. But antidepressants aren’t the only culprits, and school shooters aren’t the only victims of the drugs (seewww.ssristories.com for over 3,000 examples of similar stories about antidepressant drug-induced violent behaviors. Modern-day psychiatric drugs are notorious for causing people to numb down, to become indifferent to the suffering of others and themselves, to become manic, depressed, psychotic, irrational, impulsive, anorexic or demented. It is important to note that Fort Hood has been averaging ten suicides a month among military personnel.

The important new book, Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime, written by psychiatrist and scholar Grace E. Jackson, proves that every category of psychiatric drugs (antidepressants, tranquilizers/sedatives, psychostimulants, “mood stabilizers” and antipsychotics) is fully capable of causing both short-term and long-term brain damage, with serious neurodegenerative, behavior-altering and emotion-numbing effects. Jackson’s information is gleaned from the vast neuroscience and neurotoxicology journals, information which is almost never published in the mainstream medical literature that clinicians are likely to read.

Jackson’s book is a sobering revelation that will be unwelcome news to those industries that are “too big to fail”: mainstream psychiatry and the pharmaceutical companies. These two industries have been either ignorant of these realities or have been withholding the information, despite the fact that the neurotoxicology data has been published in basic neuroscience journals ever since the 1960s, when the chronic use of Thorazine and Haldol were proven unequivocally to cause brain damage in high percentages of users.

In addition to Dr. Jackson’s books (she also has written a powerful expose of psychotropic drugs entitled Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs), Dr. Peter Breggin (www.breggin.com and http://www.icspp.org) has been writing frequently about the phenomenon of drug-induced mental ill health and drug-induced brain-damage for two decades. Breggin’s well-written, well-researched and well-documented books include Toxic Psychiatry; Your Drug May Be Your Problem; Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry; The Antidepressant Fact Book; Talking Back to Prozac; Talking Back to Ritalin; and the book most pertinent to the issue of psychotropic drug-induced mental dysfunction, Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-Altering Medications.

Dr. Breggin recently wrote an article about the Fort Hood shooting episode that was entitled “The Fort Hood Shooter: A Different Psychiatric Perspective”. I have excerpted portions of Breggin’s article immediately below because Dr. Breggin has the wisdom and experience to speak authoritatively on the subject. The article can be accessed in its entirely at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-breggin/the-fort-hood-shooter-a-d_b_349651.html.
Breggin writes about the above-mentioned “elephant in the room”: Some in the media have expressed surprise that a man whose profession is about caring would turn to violence. According to one theory, Dr. Hasan was driven to the breaking point by the stress of counseling returning soldiers and having to listen to their horrific stories. Totally false. Psychiatrists are no longer trained to listen to or to counsel their patients. Nor do they care to.
“I’ve given seminars to the staff at both hospitals where Hasan was trained, Walter Reed in DC and the national military medical center in Bethesda, Maryland. The psychiatrists had no interest in anything except medicating their patients.
“Modern psychiatry is not about counseling and empowering people. It’s about controlling and suppressing them, and that’s a dismal affair for patients and doctors alike. The armed forces have been taken in by the false claims of modern psychiatry.
“By contrast, it’s not depressing to do psychotherapy or counseling. As therapists, it’s inspiring when people entrust their feelings and their life stories to us. There is no burn out when therapists feel concern and empathy for their patients and help them to find the strength and direction to reclaim their lives.
“But being an ordinary (ie, a psychiatric drug dispensing) psychiatrist is deadly depressing. Psychiatrists routinely commit spiritual murder by disregarding and suppressing their patients’ feelings and even their cognitive functions, making it impossible for them to conquer their emotional struggles. It’s no wonder my colleagues have such high suicide and drug addiction rates.
”The most recent data show that soldiers are being snowed under not only with antidepressants and tranquilizers, but increasingly with antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal, Zyprexa, Geodon and Seroquel. To cover up their own therapeutic impotence, psychiatrists chemically suppress our troops and push them back onto the front lines. That’s the kind of poisonous psychiatry that Hasan was practicing….

Self-Medication Rates Among Psychiatrists

To continue quoting from Dr. Breggin’s article:”Psychiatrists are notorious for treating themselves with psychiatric drugs. They have them freely available and they simply don’t know anything different. The odds are that Dr. Hasan was self-medicating with antidepressants and tranquilizers that were causing his increasing disinhibition, at least in his pronouncements, until his final “Allahu Akbar” before he began shooting.
“In my book Medication Madness I describe dozens of cases that I have personally evaluated involving relatively normal individuals who committed murder, mayhem and suicide while taking psychiatric drugs, especially antidepressants and tranquilizers. One of these cases involves a psychiatrist who began by self-medicating himself, then came under another psychiatrist’s care who continued to give him antidepressants, until he ended up in a manic state, assaulting a helpless woman. Before being driven mad by antidepressants, he was a relatively stable and highly accomplished doctor with no special inclination toward violence. These psychiatric drugs will have an even greater triggering effect on someone like Hasan who was already ideologically and psychologically primed to explode in violence.

Failing to Identify His Dangerousness

”Dr. Bart Billings is the founder and director of the premier International Combat Stress Conference, where I made a presentation last year. Dr. Billings, a retired colonel, is not surprised that Hasan’s psychiatric colleagues failed to realize how crazy and ideologically menacing he had become. Dr. Billings confirms that army psychiatrists are nothing more than pill pushers who have no idea how to evaluate anyone’s mental condition. He also agrees that it’s criminal to prescribe psychiatric drugs to active duty soldiers, increasing the risk that they will break under stress and lose their self-control.
“It’s time for the army to reject the false promises and damaging effects of modern psychiatry, and to focus on psychological, educational and moral approaches that genuinely help soldiers to prepare for and to overcome the effects of combat stress.”

Dr. Hasan’s case is a goodl example of murder/suicide. His behaviors in the days leading up to the event were compatible with suicidal intentions. He was emptying out his apartment, giving away his possessions and saying goodbye to friends and acquaintances, even though his date of deployment was days away. He knew he wasn’t coming back from his planned deed.

Even though his brain was not operating rationally, he knew that he would not get away with the murderous acts without getting shot, probably fatally. The phenomenon known as “suicide by cop” probably applies in this case. When humiliated, angry, hopeless and often suicidal men decide that they need to get revenge against a person, a group or a culture that has been tormenting them unjustly, they often want to go out in a “blaze of glory”, taking as many of their perceived tormentors as possible along with them. Ending their hopeless and despairing lives that way will ensure that they will be remembered as someone that wasn’t a nobody and wasn’t somebody deserving of disrespect and scorn.

Powerful forces will be operating behind the scenes at Fort Hood. Secrecy will prevail. There will be attempts to suppress important information about any drug use by Hasan or about the suicidality-inducing drugs he prescribed to his already psychologically-wounded soldiers. It is possible that the medical records will be sealed, claiming privacy concerns, as in the case of Columbine co-shooter Dylan Klebold. We need to demand a thorough, transparent investigation of all factors, especially those factors that may not be appreciated by the groups that would prefer a cover-up. The victims, both current and future ones, have a right to know the whole truth, if for no other reason than for society to be able to plan effective preventive strategies for the future.

Dr. Kohls is a Duluth, MN physician who practiced holistic (non-drug) mental health care in Duluth, MN until his retirement in 2008. He writes about war, peace, justice, mental health and nutrition and feels it is his professional duty to warn about some of the censored-out and taboo issues relating to those areas. His practice website iswww.mindbodymedicineduluth.com. Various video interviews of related issues discussed by Dr. Kohls can be accessed atwww.iHealthTube.com.

Comment by peaceprobe

Thanks in favor of sharing such a pleasant thinking, paragraph is good,
thats why i have read it entirely

Comment by jocuri cu scheibord




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