The rush to judgment

Filed under: Talk About Race |
Fort Hood Shooting Memorial

AP Photo/Rodolfo Gonzalez, POOL

In his op-ed yesterday in the New York Times, David Brooks criticized what he called the “Rush to Therapy” in the media coverage of the Fort Hood violence last week, which emphasized the personal breakdown of Major Hasan, the apparent shooter, over the narrative of Islamic extremism that may or may not have inspired or motivated the violence. Brooks claimed that the ‘rush to therapy’ “absolved Hasan – before the real evidence was in – of his responsibility.”

The so-called ‘rush to therapy’ did not — nor could it — absolve Major Hasan of his responsibility. On the contrary, it prevented a rush to judgment, to fit complex facts into a simplistic — all too easy — narrative. Brooks claims that the ‘rush to therapy’ “denied, before the evidence was in, the possibility of evil.” It did not deny the possibility of evil. It denied the presumption of evil. In this country, guilt or innocence is supposed to be determined in a courtroom, not by an angry mob or the media. Yet all too often this is not the case. Our long history of mob justice – on the frontier or under white sheets – belies our standard of justice, of due process, of ‘innocence until proven guilty.’

Brooks claims that it “wasn’t the reaction of a morally or politically serious nation.” On the contrary, it was the mark of a morally and political serious nation.


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Author: Stephen Menendian (15 Articles)

Stephen Menendian

Stephen Menendian is the senior legal research associate at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University. Stephen directs and supervises the Institute’s legal advocacy, analysis and research, and manages many of the Institute’s most important projects. His principal areas of advocacy and scholarship include education, civil rights and human rights, Constitutional law, the racialization of opportunity structures, talking about race, systems thinking and implicit bias.

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