Soldier’s affiliations of importance

By Tibor Machan: Freedom New Mexico columnist

The New York Times ran an editorial Nov. 7 tutoring its readers in how they ought to ignore the background of the accused killer of the soldiers in Texas.

All that matters is what he did, not what groups he joined in the past, the paper claimed. So, his being Muslim should be ignored and nothing should be concluded about any Muslims in the light of his actions.

Now this advice has a ring of truth to it, except it is wrong.

Certainly not all Muslims may be suspected of bad intentions in light of what one Muslim does. Not without some additional information.

Did the shooter’s motivation stem from his Islamic convictions? Maybe a version of Islam, a radical variety, had something to do with how he felt or what he believed about his victims. If so, then his “background” certainly needs to be attended to. It all depends what aspect of his background one has in mind.

If someone’s background includes having joined the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis, or even the Democrat or Republican parties, surely it makes sense to consider this fact as one evaluates the person and consider what he or she is or was likely to do. Is this not the case here?

Being a radical Muslim isn’t like being black. It is what one chooses to be, like being a KKK member or indeed a member of any other partisan group. And as one M.D. Kruger put it, on The New York Times’ Web site, warning about invoking the perpetrator’s background, as The Times’ editors did, appears to be no more than “the politically correct line.”

As Kruger goes on to say, “personally, I’m pretty tired of the same cast of very bad actors that never seem to include a Baptist minister’s wife, a disgruntled rodeo cowboy, a rogue Chinese food delivery man, a gay cake decorator or the Swedish consul general from San Francisco.”

In any case, being Muslim is not something one was born to be, like being a woman or black or a New Zealander. No one can help these matters, so holding it against someone is plainly unjust.

But when one is a Roman Catholic, a Republican or Democrat or Jew, these are associations in one’s own power to enter into or the exit. If the convictions associated with such membership are morally or politically objectionable, it is perfectly sensible to consider them as one evaluates someone as a potential associate or friend or spouse.

There can, of course, be some gray areas. Most of us are brought up by parents who exert enormous influence on us while we are effectively helpless, including on what religion or politics we will have. But after a while a person is no longer captive of such influence and becomes fully responsible for either accepting or rejecting it.

Contrary, then, to The New York Times’ politically correct mantra, it is quite appropriate to ask after a person’s chosen convictions as one tries to understand what he or she did, why and so forth.