Nearly a week after the Fort Hood massacre, the anti- Muslim backlash that our leaders and some in the media feared remains a no-show.
No mobs of braying bigots marching on mosques; no calls for banning Muslims from the military; no anti-Muslim legislation being drafted in Congress or state capitals; no spate of attacks on Muslim students, shop owners, or neighborhoods.
What happened? What's holding the angry, red-blooded vigilantes in check?
Why, if this keeps up, we might have to conclude that the United States is a remarkably fair-minded society as opposed to the cauldron of seething prejudice that many enlightened persons apparently perceive.
Perhaps their view explains why, after a jihadist incident of this kind, some feel compelled to treat Americans like youngsters who cannot be trusted to react appropriately to the truth — and so must be told a clipped or shaded version of it.
"We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing," the president cautioned the nation last weekend, while mentioning Islam only in the context of praising the diversity of the armed forces. In fact, we cannot fully know what spurs any evil man into action, but we often have an excellent fix on his principal motives. And such is certainly true of an Army major who shouts "Allahu akbar" before a murderous rampage.
On Sunday, the Army chief of staff, Gen. George Casey Jr., not only offered the obligatory warning that "we have to be careful, because we can't jump to conclusions now based on little snippets of information that come out," he also proceeded to question the maturity and self-control of his own troops.
"Frankly," he told CNN, "I am worried — not worried, but I'm concerned that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers. And I've asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that. It would be a shame — as great a tragedy as this was — it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well."
On ABC, Casey escalated this baseless rhetoric, claiming "it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here" — as if there were any chance of that happening. Indeed, according to The Associated Press, the military culture is so far removed from the aggressive scapegoating feared by Casey that even after Hasan's anti-American views became apparent to classmates at a graduate military medical program, "a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal complaint."
Not to be outdone by Casey, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano pledged to devote resources from her department to "prevent everybody being painted with a broad brush."
Shouldn't this country's experience after 9/11 reassure those who fear a backlash against Muslims? While hate crimes targeting Muslims have indeed been more plentiful this decade than in the 1990s, even in 2001 they were less than half as numerous as reported incidents against Jews, according to the FBI.
The most recent data, from 2007, is typical of most years: Of 1,477 offenses motivated by religious bias, only 9 percent were directed at Muslims. By comparison, even Catholics and Protestants were the targets of 8.4 percent of the offenses. In a nation of 300 million citizens, such paltry totals are hardly cause for panic.
Meanwhile, 68.4 percent of the incidents in 2007 were anti-Jewish — yet no one seriously imagines this nation has suddenly become inhospitable to Jews.
Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan "complained bitterly to people at his mosque about the oppression of Muslims in the Army," reports The New York Times. But what is the definition of "oppression" to an Islamist creep like Hasan — that he had to fraternize on an equal basis with non-Muslims?
His alleged victimhood, like the phantom backlash to the Fort Hood rampage, is a diversion from what really matters in the aftermath of this shooting: the dead, the injured, and those whose dreams were shattered with them.
E-mail Vincent Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org.