06 November 2009

No good

I got the news about Fort Hood while I was driving home yesterday, and spent about 500 miles punching the "seek" button and trying to keep up with developments.

It's nothing short of horrifying to lose our people here at home.  One of the biggest sources of stress for our Warriors downrange is the utter lack of a true "safe zone" anywhere in Iraq or Afghanistan.  That just makes it worse when the possibility of sudden and random murder becomes a reality here in the United States.

The last unit I supported in Iraq is a Fort Hood battalion.  Fortunately, if things have remained on schedule, they are still in Iraq.  And that's not something you say very often.

I was surprised at my impressions when I first heard who the shooter was.  I will leave the Islam issue alone - there's nothing printable I have to say about that.  What floored me (and surprised me by doing so) was the degree to which I was stunned that it was a field-grade officer who had killed Soldiers.

I understand that crazy is crazy, and evil is evil, and that neither crazy nor evil are ruled out by class, age, education, etc.  I also understand that the Medical Corps is not the same as the rest of the Army.  But an officer, particularly a goddam major, is expected to be a mature leader, for whom the care of Soldiers is a sacred trust.

Killed by someone who you automatically, by definition, trust with your life

This shitbag had apparently decided it was just too darn hard to bear the responsibilities he accepted when he took his commission.  He should have been drummed out of the Army way back when he started saying he was having issues with our national policy (imagine having that piece of work assigned to help you work through some war-related issues).

Bah.  I'm disgusted.  And devastated for the troopers killed and wounded, and their comrades in arms.  These people have done enough, and that more strength and resilience is going to be required of them to deal with events at their home...it's heartbreaking.

I give thanks, though, for the Soldiers on the ground who shut doors and barred the shooter from getting to further concentrations of people.  I give thanks for the Soldiers brave and quick-witted enough to begin performing care under fire while utterly without the ability to return fire.  And I give thanks for the warriors who don't go downrange, like DoD Police SGT Kim Munley, who ran to the sound of the guns and dropped the shooter killing her flock.  Munley is married to the military, accepted the responsibility of protecting the military community, and deserves to be considered a hero on par with any Soldier who runs into a hail of fire to save his comrades.

03 November 2009

Setting an example

We look at the heartbreaking death of Noor Faleh Almaleki, a young woman in Arizona who, it certainly appears, was killed by her father for being "too Westernized."

It is unclear, at least upon cursory inspection, as to whether these folks were "Iraqis," or Americans who'd immigrated from Iraq.  It may not be legally different, but if Miss Almaleki was an American citizen, I'd find it a little irritating to have her referred to as an "Iraqi woman."  Because that makes it easier for us to distance ourselves from the savagery of an honor killing being committed in freakin' Arizona.

And I don't think we want to trivialize this sort of thing.  It is, after all, male relatives killing women in America.  That is, beyond just being awful, the perfect example of the sort of crap and horror that pretty much everyone ought to be able to agree needs to be left behind in the countries these folks leave behind.

Come to the US, you get economic opportunity, freedom from death squads, the ability to vote in reasonably un-rigged elections, public education for all your children.  You do have to leave some things behind, and they should include: disappearing people with whom you disagree politically; discarding refuse and excrement in the street; and, treating your female relatives like goats you're not allowed to eat.

I would assume, since we (as a country) went to the trouble of running this man down and bringing him back when he tried to flee to Great Britain, the intent exists to prosecute him.  Ms. Almaleki died last night, so I haven't seen yet the specific charge.

But I think we need to start making an example.  This sort of thing, it appears, is happening from time to time.  And, it seems, if left unchecked, this is a problem that will grow.  It has in Great Britain.

In the first half of this year alone, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit – which deals with honour violence because of its frequent links to forced marriage – had received 2,000 calls.

That's unacceptable in this country.  Sorry.  I'm a woman, and I have had no experience that leads me to believe my country will put up with that sort of savage behavior.

Now, oddly enough, it seems as if our federal government has done something recently that might give us (as a nation) a way to express our disapproval for this garbage.  Mr. Almeleki should, of course, be prosecuted by the state of Arizona as they see fit.  But then...(I love this)...has anyone looked at that new bit of federal hate crimes legislation the president just signed?
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act gives the Department of Justice (DOJ) the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the DOJ with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
The focus with this, particularly among conservatives, has been on the "sexual orientation" bit.  But...gender was also added as a criteria to screen for bias in criminal motivation.

I'm not, in the most part, a fan of the concept of hate crimes.  A crime is a crime - one murder is no worse than another.  But there have been times in our nation's history when state courts have refused to step up to the plate, and the federal government's willingness to prosecute what they could was the only honorable action taken.
The FBI arrested 18 men in October 1964, but state prosecutors refused to try the case, claiming lack of evidence. The federal government then stepped in, and the FBI arrested 18 in connection with the killings. In 1967, seven men were convicted on federal conspiracy charges and given sentences of three to ten years, but none served more than six. No one was tried on the charge or murder. The contemptible words of the presiding federal judge, William Cox, give an indication of Mississippi's version of justice at the time: "They killed one ni---r, one Jew, and a white man. I gave them all what I thought they deserved." [source same as above link]
It took 41 years to get murder convictions on the scum who killed those Freedom Riders.  I don't think we can afford to play around with the scum who come to our country and kill women.  If we need to use federal hate crimes statutes to stomp on the head of this particular rat with extreme predjudice, I'd support it.
We can use those laws that way ("would you have killed your son for wearing a Lakers t-shirt?  No?  Ok - hate crime!"), then take the newspaper clippings on those prosecutions, have them translated, and hang them in every Immigration office in the US.  I've been in some of those offices.  The lines are long, there would be plenty of time for reading.

01 November 2009

No moss on us

Jack and I are, once again, on the road.  We're headed to Virginia to do some visiting.  Tonight finds us holed up in a Days Inn (I have yet to find a Days Inn that won't accept dogs) in western South Carolina.

One of us seems to think I got him his very own king-sized bed.  I will have to break his heart soon and explain that he'll need to share it.  The bed is a step up from our arrival, when he decided that he liked the bathroom.

I finally explained that only loser-weirdo dogs lurk in bathrooms, but that dogs who come out of the bathroom get treats.  Bribery - it works!