Reducing the motives for terrorism into psychobabble disarms one’s society from being able to combat terrorism. It is amazing to see a democratic society’s intellectual assets turn to the task of systematic obfuscation as even the most ridiculous arguments flourish.
For example, people who go on suicide terrorist missions don’t get to be hardened jihadis because they don’t live long enough. And the whole point is that they can behave that way because they don’t need to be “hardened.” They can already:
(1) Settle into an identity that fits with revolutionary activity and terrorism;
(2) Get huge encouragement from an existing movement that even rules entire countries;
(3) Receive direct training from terrorist forces that operate in safe havens; Don’t believe that their identities and grievances are mere constructs. One doesn’t fight and die for a construct.
I am strongly reminded of a discussion many years ago with a brilliant CIA psychiatrist who laid the foundation for understanding the thinking of modern terrorists. One of the things he did was to divide them into two categories. There were those whose parents would, at least generally, approve of their violent acts and those that wouldn’t.
He didn’t mean here that the individual parents would cheer them—though that was possible—but that they were approved of by their social-intellectual milieu. That’s why Islamist terrorists are numbered in the tens of thousands and people like Holmes and McVeigh can be counted on the fingers of your two hands.
A few days ago I asked a first-rate, veteran journalist with much experience in this area whether she had ever interviewed parents who denounced their children’s actions. She replied, “No. And if they did they’d know enough to keep their mouths shut.” Of course, that would be because in Palestinian society they would be themselves isolated and renounced for opposing jihad or at least armed struggle.
In the Boston case, the Tsarnaev brothers’ mother cheered them and blamed America. What is in play here is not alienation from America but hatred of it based on a pre-existing template, combined with a willingness to take its benefits as if they were owed to oneself.
Note: The title of this article is drawn from Oscar Wilde, “The Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name.” That’s a phrase from his poem about homosexuality in Victorian England. Every society has such things forbidden to discuss. The problem for American society is that its official quarters act as if the country is still in its Victorian Age and that race, gender, religious bias, and homosexuality fall into that category. In fact, there are quite a different set of unspeakable truths, taboo concepts for American society, defined by a new version of intellectual repression called Political Correctness.
Originally published at Rubin Reports.Barry Rubin
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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