The Internet Strikes Again!


Daniel Schorr emerges from the freezer where he's preserved in the NPR basement, takes a hard look at the Fort Hood massacre, and identifies the real enemy: a series of tubes.

All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Daniel, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in the Internet.

From what is publicly known about Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused killer of 13 in a rampage at Fort Hood, he had no accomplice -- unless you count the Internet in which he communed, exchanging sinister thoughts with an extremist cleric….

A decade ago, the army psychiatrist had frequented a mosque in Northern Virginia where Awlaki preached. More recently, a year ago, he sought to renew that contact by e-mail. The cleric has said that he did not reply to the first two or three messages, but then opened a relationship in which several more e-mails were exchanged over a year.

Texts of the messages have not been released, so it is difficult to know who said what to whom. It is not known whether Fort Hood or any other target was specifically discussed. But the tone of the relationship can be judged by a message Awlaki posted on his Web site after the Fort Hood attack. It said, "Fighting against the U.S. Army is an Islamic duty today."…

Is the radical imam culpable for retroactively justifying the attack? Or does the Internet merit some of the responsibility for helping the violence prone to fester there in communion with the machine?

If email makes you shoot people, do microphones make you stupid?