As an American physician who is Muslim, I feel a profound sense of anger and betrayal.



Anger that the alleged perpetrator of the heinous Fort Hood massacre was a Muslim. Anger that someone born and raised in this great land could do such a thing. And anger, above all, that a doctor reportedly did it — a man who had taken the solemn oath repeated by all of us upon graduation from medical school.

In declaring the Hippocratic Oath, we all proclaim our commitment to practice ethical and moral medicine. We all understand the fundamental precept taught in medical school — “primum non nocere,” a Latin phrase that means “first, do no harm.”

As an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan was entrusted to ease the anguish and suffering of his fellow soldiers who witnessed firsthand the horrors of war. If the charges against him are proven, he betrayed these soldiers utterly and mercilessly.

I feel betrayed by the actions of Hasan on an entirely different level, however. I feel betrayed as a Muslim from a devout family.

Our beautiful faith teaches us compassion and mercy and is one of the main reasons I sought to become a physician.

As a first-year medical student, I joined my classmates — approximately 120 aspiring physicians — in purchasing a sphygmomanometer, a device used to measure blood pressure manually. I had the words “In the service of Allah” engraved on the gauge, serving as a constant reminder to me of this commitment.

I also feel betrayed as an Arab-American.

I am proud of my roots, my identity and my country. My immigrant parents raised my siblings and me to be proud of our heritage (Palestinian) and proud of our home (America). They raised six children, three of whom are physicians. If they were alive today, they would feel this wound even more sharply — as I am certain Hasan’s parents would, as well.

After the tragedy of 9/11, Arab-Americans and American Muslims have worked incessantly to clear the “guilt by association” with which our communities have been tainted.

The Fort Hood murders are a huge setback.

Dr. Riad Z. Abdelkarim, formerly a lifelong resident of Southern California, is the director of medical affairs at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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Carolina Panthers

If the black citizens of Charlotte and white supporters of justice block the entrance to the stadium on Sunday, I...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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