Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Letter to the Editor at the San Francisco Examiner, which won't be read by anyone but you, dear blog visitors

This morning I read this Examiner editorial about the Fort Hood massacre, specifically targeting the Muslim Army psychiatrist for his creed and unproven ties to terrorist operations--not his obvious mental instability. The fact that this paper is distributed in San Francisco is the only relationship to my dear city that it enjoys: it does not speak for us, and it is not locally-owned. I thought that the conservative titans of industry who spoke through this asinine rag went a bit too far when they endorsed John McCain. But this, this is just disgusting.

What I wrote will not be read by them, as both emails to send your letters to are now defunct ( and Instead I was left to leave a comment under the article, which curiously disappeared immediately after I submitted it--twice.

I guess my only option is to publish it here, or post it as a facebook status update, but I don't think anyone would be into that, so here goes:

I am deeply disappointed in your article regarding Nadal Malik Hasan, the former Major and Army psychiatrist who opened fire at Fort Hood and killed 13 U.S. soldiers just one week ago. On the day after Veterans’ Day, your paper chose to criticize the viewpoint that our dear, brave soldiers are in dire need of more care when it comes to TBI and PTSD. Instead of acknowledging what we all know—that PTSD rates are on the rise, while funding is scarce for veteran care (please see: “PTSD Rates Rising” Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine, June 23, 2009, or “Nidal Malik Hasan case: Are Army psychiatrists overwhelmed?” Christian Science Monitor, November 6, 2009)--your paper chose to side with the Right Wing echo chamber that is having a xenophobia fest with the massacre, using it as an excuse to further discriminate against Muslims in this country. Question: was the devout Christian who slayed abortion doctor George Tillman mentally ill, or just a zealot with an agenda? If these two characteristics are not mutually exclusive, should we then target the religious group that inspired this mental illness? Should American Christians be scrutinized and discriminated against?

It’s true, “we all know” that Hasan yelled “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) before opening fire. And we also know that he associated with his local imam who had ties to al Qaeda. But we also know that there were signs of Hasan’s mental illness under George W. Bush’s watch, outbursts and disorderly conduct, that were sloppily investigated years ago—this is old news. What should be news, however, are the grave consequences of pushing these selfless young men and women to the brink of mental sanity. This man sat and listened to gruesome tales from soldiers who, one can venture to guess, suffered deep mental and emotional scars. He sat and listened day by day, waiting for his turn to be deployed into that same world.

Need your editorial board be reminded of the U.S. soldier who opened fire and killed five soldiers in a Baghdad stress clinic just this past May? U.S. Army figures claim an estimated five soldiers stationed in Iraq attempt to kill themselves every day. And the Department of Veterans’ Affairs states that nearly 45% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who sought care have been diagnosed with possible psychological disorders.

Your editorial cited a DOL study that Vietnam vets are just as competent and mentally stable as their civilian counterparts. Need I remind your editorial board: this isn’t Vietnam. I am ashamed for the bigoted writer of this article, on the day after this country honors our dear veterans—veterans that desperately need public support for mental health care.

Amity B

San Francisco

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