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Guilt, Therapy and the System

Moral Relativism at Fort Hood

by SAM HUSSEINI

What do you suppose he was telling the soldiers, that after what they had done they OUGHT to feel bad?"

–Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation about Nidal Hasan

That would be a good start, but perhaps not very likely given that Hasan has now apparently killed so many.

A little over ten years ago Zeynep, whom I would later befriend, was vacationing in her native Turkey. An earthquake hit, killing thousands. For weeks she helped with the rescue efforts, digging for survivors amid the devastation and stench of death.

When she got back to the U.S., she was traumatized, literally smelling the bodies at times. Her doctor recommended she see a post-trauma specialist.

After a time the therapist kept telling her it "wasn’t her fault" — Zeynep kept saying she knew that — it was an earthquake. This happened over and over. It turned out the therapist worked with alot of Vietnam War veterans and would tell them of their war experiences "It’s not your fault". Zeynep would later write:

I pointed out that people who are truly not at fault often know that and do not need to hear it 30 years later. If a man is having crying fits and nightmares three decades after a war, there is a possibility that something really was his fault and that the last thing he needs to hear is "it’s not your fault." Maybe he needs to say he was indeed at fault, that he was guilty. Is there a way to redemption without acknowledgment of guilt?

The right and much of the establishment typically derides therapy as engaging in moral relativism. But now you have much of the establishment, Schieffer is but a tiny example, engaging in a massive moral relativism.

Killing is bad — at home. It’s good in Iraq and Afghanistan.

People should not kill. Except when we tell them to.

People should feel bad about killing. Except when we say they shouldn’t.

And: We need to look forward when it comes to crimes by U.S. officials. But we must ensure prosecution when it comes to the 9/11 attacks.

This system cannot stand, because it can’t stand its self.

SAM HUSSEINI’s writings are at www.husseini.org. He founded the web page www.compassroses.org on Feb. 15, 2003.