Of course, this was an appalling and despicable attack. My condolences to all who are affected–the wounded, their family members, and the family and friends of the dead. Clearly, in the aftermath of all of this, efforts are going to have to be made to augment the security at military bases in order to prevent a repeat of this kind of incident; I imagine that I am not the only person worried about copycats.
There is a lot that we need to learn about this incident. But if the story emerges that this was an act impelled by the perversion of Islam, then there will be an inclination on the part of some to say that Muslims ought to be suspect as a general rule. This observation is not only false, it is ruinous as well. There is no reasonable argument to be made that Muslims as a rule ought to be considered suspect; the percentage of Muslims who pervert their faith with acts of terrorism and violence is exceedingly low. If Muslims as a rule are considered suspect, then we will be in a position where we see enemies everywhere, but find them nowhere, since we will not actually be paying attention to the individuals we ought to suspect. Rather, we will be wasting our time keeping tabs on a gigantic group, the overwhelming majority of which are peaceful, loyal, and outraged by the way in which their faith is twisted for violent ends.
We can either see Islam itself as one giant monolithic force determined to do us evil until individual Muslims prove that they are not (how they are to prove this is anyone’s guess), or we can take the intelligent position that the Nadal Malik Hasans of the world are in a distinct minority, and that we can and should try to make common cause with the vast majority of Muslims who stand in opposition to his acts. I know which policy I am rooting for.