Some Thoughts On Fort Hood

Mark Todd

Mark Todd

1.  Senior Sergeant Mark Todd.

Sergeant Kimberly Munley.

Who “took down” Major Nidal Hasan?

Unclear at the moment.  Hopefully, it will get clearer after the autopsy.  Hopefully this won’t lead to a Murder on the Orient Express excursion.

Does it matter?  Yes, it matters a lot.  The myth making machine creates heroes who shape our identity.

For many, this brings up uncomfortable parallels to the Jessica Lynch affair. The rush to judgment. A passion for myth making that tramples everything in its path:  truth, common sense.  And as soon as things get murky or less myth-y, the media will immediately move on — Pat Tillman.

The Todd and Munley affair remind me of Frank Wills, the Watergate building guard who discovered an office break-in that eventually toppled President Richard Nixon.  Russell Mootry, Jr. in June ’76 Ebony called it:  “It has become apparent that Frank Willis is being thrust into obscurity.”

2.  Sarcasm.  Funny thing.  Friends and family indicate that Hasan was trying to get out of the military.  The Pentagon doesn’t find any formal records.  One report indicates that when requesting a discharge, Hasan was rebuffed with a flip remark.  “Donald Rumsfeld would have to sign [the papers].”  If true, it should give us all pause.

I work with a lot of sarcastic folks.  Sarcasm and its near cousin cynicism are poisons.  Those that use it are often “verbal bullies” who aren’t accountable because they’re kidding.

Here’s what says about it.

Sarcasm is actually passive-aggressive behavior. Sarcasm can appear to be provocative, because it provokes with words and/or actions. The failure for the receiver to respond to sarcastic jabs may be met with even more sarcasm. Oddly, the mocking contempt of sarcasm makes the victim feel pressured to respond. The victim feels inferior if he or she doesn’t respond, and then sorry by responding. The victim of sarcasm cannot win and therefore feels helpless.

Sarcasm can have the appearance of being both witty and intelligent; that’s why it is so brutal. Almost always the intention of a sarcastic person is to hurt. Sarcastic communicators craft their jabs with wordsmith perfection. The truth is that sarcasm rarely happens by accident. It is a tool, wielded with deliberation. Rest assured, if a sarcastic person is attacking, he or she knows what is going on.

Sarcasm exists as both verbal and non-verbal messages. In addition to what can appear to be witty, ironic, or cutting remarks, sarcastic communicators roll their eyes, sneer, sigh, shake the head and laugh under their breath. To the victim it’s infuriating. To survive this, the victim of nonverbal sarcasm must first learn to recognize these forms of abusive feedback, and then determine how to effectively deal with them. Any type of sarcasm is hurtful and causes permanent damage. When directed at others, it hurts others; when directed at the sender, it hurts the sender.

Sarcasm is generated from a pessimistic outlook. And at its core sarcasm is the by-product of a judgmental nature. It is acting on a damaged perspective of reality or outlook. One of the sad effects of sarcasm is social positioning. By being sarcastic the perpetrator feels superior to the victim. In other words, by pushing someone else down with verbal or non-verbal barbs, the perpetrator in effect believes that he or she has been elevated in social stature. The problem with this type of thinking is that in all types of communication the sender’s intention is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how a message is received. Intentions are nice, but are worthless in building effective and long-lasting relationships.

I’m not saying that sarcasm made Hasan pull the trigger, but I’m damned sure that it didn’t help.

Like my mother used to say, watch your mouth.


About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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