Calling the beard a distraction, military trial judge Col. Gregory Gross found Hasan in contempt six times. He ordered the defendant out of the courtroom and into a trailer to watch the proceedings on a closed-circuit television.The saddest part of this case so far. That he was able to have Gross replaces is another of the grave defeats suffered in this trial. The families of the victims need the support of the public to see to it that justice is delivered properly.
The judge, frustrated by Hasan's unmilitary appearance, finally ruled he could either appear clean-shaven or be forcibly shaved. On appeal, the court agreed with Gross, but said the command -- not the judge -- should enforce it. The appeals court didn't agree the beard caused a distraction and vacated the contempt convictions.
Hasan then filed a motion of bias against Gross. In December, the appeals court agreed the proceedings had become "a duel of wills," dismissing Gross and appointing Col. Tara Abbey Osborn to replace him.
Along with the dismissal, the appeals court readdressed the beard issue, ruling it wouldn't decide if and how the Religious Freedom Restoration Act might apply to Hasan's claim of right to a beard, leaving it to Osborn to decide whether it needed to be addressed as a new matter.
In Hasan's first appearance before Osborn, noting the beard violated regulations, she commented, "I'm not going to hold that against you but some people on the panel may ..."
Interestingly, while arguing his Islamic faith gives him the right to grow a beard, Hasan never felt compelled by his faith to grow one earlier, before the Fort Hood attacks. He entered and served in the U.S. Army as a beardless Muslim; he should stand trial as one. Why allow him to claim otherwise now?
The appeals court, and perhaps Osborn, may be guilty of bias themselves. It is a bias influenced by a commander in chief who prohibits any reference to "Islam" or "jihadist" in national security documents. It is a bias prohibiting any reference to Hasan's act as one of "radical Islamism," instead calling it "workplace violence." It is a bias more appropriately known as PC.
Sadly, a silent majority refuses to question it.
Ironically, Hasan can tell us he acts now in accordance with his Islamic faith but PC prevents us from raising his faith as his motivation for the massacre.
Update: here's a letter in the Baltimore Sun about the tragedy of PC and Islam.