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Frank Rich Breaks Columnists' Silence on Fort Hood, Chides 'Self-Proclaimed Patriots of the American Right'

The Times former drama critic reluctantly suggests conservatives may have a point about political correctness making the Fort Hood massacre possible, but then goes into a muddled argument blaming the Afghanistan War instead.

Breaking the silence of the paper's liberal columnists in the wake of the Fort Hood Massacre, columnist Frank Rich addressed it in his Sunday column,"The Missing Link From Killeen to Kabul." Rich even reluctantly admitted that some of the crazies on the right may be on to something when they blame political correctness for the massacre.

Rich soon recovered his wits and went on to make a muddy argument against the war in Afghanistan, while chiding the "self-proclaimed patriots of the American right"for making political hay out of the killings (as if that's not precisely what Rich and colleagues tried to do after the Holocaust Museum shooting and murder of partial-birth abortionist George Tiller).

The dead at Fort Hood had not even been laid to rest when their massacre became yet another political battle cry for the self-proclaimed patriots of the American right.

Their verdict was unambiguous: Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an American-born psychiatrist of Palestinian parentage who sent e-mail to a radical imam, was a terrorist. And he did not act alone. His co-conspirators included our military brass, the Defense Department, the F.B.I., the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and, of course, the liberal media and the Obama administration. All these institutions had failed to heed the warning signs raised by Hasan's behavior and activities because they are blinded by political correctness toward Muslims, too eager to portray criminals as sympathetic victims of social injustice, and too cowardly to call out evil when it strikes 42 innocents in cold blood.

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As a snapshot of where a chunk of the country stands right now, these reactions to the Fort Hood bloodbath could not be more definitive. And it's quite possible that some of what this crowd says is right - not about Islam in general, but about the systemic failure to stop a homicidal maniac like Hasan in particular. Whether he was an actual terrorist or an unfathomable mass murderer merely dabbling in jihadist ideas, the repeated red flags during his Army career illuminate a pattern of lapses in America's national security. Whether those indicators were ignored because of political correctness, bureaucratic dysfunction, sheer incompetence or some hybrid thereof is still unclear, but, whichever, the system failed.

Yet the mass murder at Fort Hood didn't happen in isolation. It unfolded against the backdrop of Obama's final lap of decision-making about Afghanistan. For all the right's jeremiads, its own brand of political correctness kept it from connecting two crucial dots: how our failing war against terrorists in Afghanistan might relate to our failure to stop a supposed terrorist attack at home. Most of those who decried the Army's blindness to Hasan's threat are strong proponents of sending more troops into our longest war. That they didn't mention Afghanistan while attacking the entire American intelligence and defense apparatus in charge of that war may be the most telling revelation of this whole debate.