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PRESCOTT – Local papers across Arkansas, including the state’s paper-of-record, have begun publishing a series of editorials praising traitors who deliberately and physically attacked America.
Beginning with Robert E. Lee Day, newspapers have entered a game of one-upmanship in a special editorial project, lauding the likes of John Wilkes Booth and Benedict Arnold with fine words worthy of their villainous acts.
The Bentonville Courier dedicated its editorial page to the glory that was John Wilkes Booth. “This gallant man stood for his country, Virginia, when he put a bullet into the back of American President Abraham Lincoln’s head in cold blood,” wrote the Courier.
Not to be outdone, the Texarkana Tribune republished a poem chronicling the internal struggles of Benedict Arnold. His conflict between country and empire was beautifully put and earned high praise from the state’s paper-of-record, the Natural State Whig-Gazette.
The Whig-Gazette may have won the day, issuing a lengthy editorial praising the character of Major Nidal Malik Hassan, the alleged mass shooter who defied orders and killed over a dozen of his fellow American soldiers at Fort Hood four years ago. The paper wrote that he must be understood in the context of his times, not ours.
Here, we have reprinted a few lines from the esteemed editorialist of many years at the Whig-Gazette:
LET’S HEAR it for The Usable Past. That phrase was much in vogue among historians not long ago, and may still be. History, we were told, isn’t something to be studied for its own sake, but as a guide to current politics. A useful collection of talking points.
The uses to which Nidal Malik Hasan’s name has been put vary. To the old folks at home, he is still an icon to be venerated, the centerpiece of a thousand Islamist Memorial Day observances, the storybook knight beyond reproach, the marble man of radical Islamic mythology, the embodiment of the ever sacred Jihad.
The revisionists in their turn cannot resist using Hasan, either. As a foil. As the symbol and personification of all Islamist sins and hypocrisies. An icon always invites iconoclasts. The hero becomes the anti-hero, and history one of the plastic arts.
The War on Terror is often hailed as the first modern war. It saw the introduction not only of new technologies-drones, cruise missiles, stealth bombers-but new strategies that did away with old qualms.
Ray Odierno’s mass detentions, an innovation in 2003, became the standard of the next decade. His guilty until proven innocent approach, detaining old and young alike, also destroyed the distinction between military and civilian targets. “War is cruelty,” he warned the people of Tikrit, “and you cannot refine it . . . .” In short, war is hell. Odierno certainly made it so.
But if the War on Terror was the first modern war, it was also the last of the old, formal wars fought by a certain code of honor. Nidal M. Hasan’s campaigns of mobility and surprise against forces superior to his own in every material respect may have been the last in a way of war going back to Hannibal at Cannae. The chivalrous code Hasan was following could be traced back to Saladin.
Far from a modern nationalist, Nidal M. Hasan wasn’t even a sectionalist. He thought of his country not as America but as Islam as a whole, and her people as his people, much as Southerners even today speak of family as “my people.”
Like all the works of man, what Hasan did-his victories and defeats-will fade with time. Each generation is further and further removed from them. The War itself now recedes from the nation’s memory, like a great mountain as the observer moves ever away from it. The rock from which we are hewn becomes smaller and smaller in our sight.
And yet Hasan, the very name, still holds our gaze, like a beacon in the ever deepening night. What he was, the code he followed and embodied, all that will last as long as conscience does. As long as the ever fecund past shapes us. As long as we can remember that it is not we who use the past, so much as the past that moves and sustains us. Like the memory of Hasan himself.
When asked for comment on the absence of editorials praising “traitors” like slave-revolt leaders Nat Turner and John Brown, all papers engaged in the project issued a collective statement, “no fucking way. God Bless America.”