At The Nation, John Nichols criticizes the media’s immediate focus on, and negative portrayal of, Major Malik Nadal Hasan’s religion following the soldier’s assault last week at Fort Hood:

The point here is not to defend the soldier or his alleged actions—the evidence at hand suggests that he was, at the least, a deeply troubled man whose statements and actions should have raised concerns among his superiors long before Thursday’s incident. By Friday, there were news reports that he had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) before opening fire. There was clearly something wrong with this imperfect follower of Islam. But that does not mean that there is something wrong with Islam.

Enlightened Americans—at least those who trace their patriotism to Thomas Jefferson, a man fascinated by and respectful of Islam and whose library contained copies of the Koran—should be unsettled by the initial rush to judgment regarding not just this one Muslim but all Muslims.

It should be understood that to assume a follower of Islam who engages in violence is a jihadist is every bit as absurd as to assume that a follower of Christianity who attacks others is a crusader. The calculus makes no sense, and it is rooted in a bigotry that everyone from George W. Bush to Pope Benedict XVI has condemned.

Read the entire piece here.