Rod Dreher is angry about something Army Chief of Staff General George Casey said in response to the massacre at Fort Hood:
"I'm concerned that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers. And I've asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that . . . "
Not having watched CNN's State of the Union, I have no idea what the context of the comment was. I agree that if this was the first thing or one of the first things Casey said after the massacre, it would be almost parodic in its concern for cultural sensitivity. But I don't know what else he might have said or in what order it was spoken.
What I do know is that the reaction to the massacre follows a familiar pattern that I call (with apologies to the late Elisabeth Kübler-Ross) the "Five Stages of Outrage":
Post-facto digging for details. If the (alleged) perpetrators of these massacres were complete unknowns even to their neighbors, within 48 to 96 hours after their rampage the opposite is true: we know more about them than we do about some of our friends and even family members. This often has the effect of making their crimes seem overdetermined and almost inevitable, which leads to
Outrage over the failure to prevent the massacre. "How could they have missed the signs?" Given what we know about the guy, why was he (or they) allowed to proceed unencumbered? That opens the door for
The search for a deeper explanation. At this point, everyone with what they reckon is an applicable ax to grind -- liberal, conservative, religious, secular, carnivore, vegan, Yankees, Red Sox, etc. -- weighs in with their explanation of why the outrage wasn't prevented: political correctness, nihilism, gun control or not enough guns, etc. As a result, the anger at the perpetrator(s) spills over onto those whom we believe failed us somehow, which leads to the final phase:
Recrimination and persecution of the, if not exactly innocent, not really guilty, either: General Casey, Virginia Tech officials, President Bush, etc. This is especially true when the actual perpetrator(s) are not around to answer for their crimes.
While these post-facto criticisms are often valid, they are always post-facto. As Neils Bohr said, "prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." We like to think that given enough data and a sufficiently un-blinkered outlook and heroic disposition we can see the future and avoid the stuff of future coprolites. Wishes, horses, beggars, nuts, Christmas and all that jazz.
Besides, as my favorite movie of 2009 eloquently makes clear, knowing that something is going to happen and being able to prevent it are two entirely different things.