Who Shot Major Hasan?

Who shot Major Hasan? It sounds like the title of a bad Simpsons episode, were the storyline not so tragic. But what unfolded last week at Fort Hood followed a predictable cable-news-friendly narrative. An “evil” gunman goes on a rampage and would have done more damage were it not for a “heroic” woman who subdued him. This is not to discount the bravery of those who fired back, especially given how chaotic a scene it must have been. But why does America feel the need to always find “heroes” in every tragic event that befalls this nation?

I’m not saying these are not genuine heroes, I just question a narrative that oftentimes turns out to be false. It turns out Sgt. Kimberly Munley was not the lone shooter who shot down Nidal Malik Hasan. Sgt Mark Todd was also there and played an important role but the storyline is better if it is just one woman who takes down the marauding villain.


In 2003 the media was quick to hold Jessica Lynch up as a “hero” after fighting ferociously in Iraq and being captured by enemy forces. She became the army’s poster-girl for valor and fearlessness. Yet, the story turned out to be exaggerated (she was hurt in a vehicle accident and was well treated by her Iraqi captors). Pat Tillman was awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star in 2004 after being killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan. That, too, turned out to be false. He was killed by friendly fire, an uncomfortable fact the U.S. military tried to cover up.

There is something unsettling about America’s knee-jerk impulse to make every incident a testament to our exceptionality. It almost presupposes that there are no heroes in other countries, that valor is a uniquely American trait. It also cheapens the everyday folks out there who do extraordinary and, yes, heroic things each and every day. 

Related Articles

How schizophrenia is linked to common personality type

Both schizophrenics and people with a common personality type share similar brain patterns.

(shutterstock)
Mind & Brain
  • A new study shows that people with a common personality type share brain activity with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • The study gives insight into how the brain activity associated with mental illnesses relates to brain activity in healthy individuals.
  • This finding not only improves our understanding of how the brain works but may one day be applied to treatments.
Keep reading Show less

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less