Paul From Minneapolis

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Is this too dark?

From a Spencer Ackerman analysis in The New Republic on why Americans Muslims are less likely to become terrorists than their European and British counterparts (subscription required):

“It's true that extremist messages exist in American Muslim communities, and there have been a few instances of American Muslims becoming terrorists. Those extremely rare cases, however, are far better explained by individual pathology than by rising Islamic militancy due to group disaffection.” (Bold added)

I think “arguably” better explained might be a better construction than “far” in some of these cases, but let’s grant the point. What does it mean? It means terroristic violence is evidently one way personal pathology in a Muslim manifests itself.

That probably means it will be rarer than the pure political version, in part because by implication you introduce the desire of the terrorist’s own community to disavow and control it. The article is mainly a heartening presentation of the case that the basic “we don’t like them either” attitude is more present than some fear, here, and definitely more present than in Europe. The ideas about our religiosity and its role in all this are nice, too:

"Most Americans would be horrified by the notion that they live in a country that abides by Islamic law. But some American Muslim leaders contend that U.S. society is harmonious with Koranic injunctions without even trying. "America is positively, unabashedly religious," enthuses Feisal Abdul Rauf, a New York-based imam. In his important 2004 book, titled What's Right With Islam, Abdul Rauf contends that space for religiosity is essentially inseparable from American liberalism, codified in both the U.S. political system and the broader U.S. social compact..."

Great! The remaining irritant is how that kind of healthy attitude (as defined me-centrically) needs to be nearly universal. There can’t be too many insurgents interested in tool-use scattered around, as is maybe the backstory to the sad case of Adam Gadahn, Californian, that Ackerman relates. If there are, then the distinction between the US and Europe begins to dissolve, impact-wise. Although I suppose as I lay dying of some infidel-mall bomb attack or expelling all fluids from my body as a designer bug overtakes me, it will help to realize that the perpetrator himself didn’t really mean anything by it. He just went a little funny. You know – funny.

(I am making a point here. It has to do with how seriously the Muslim world needs to be in accepting its responsibility to police itself. In a connected all-too-rageful world, it’s not enough to maintain that it’s only a scattered few. You cannot tolerate your scattered few, is my view. They have to be hiding from you as much as from the rest of us.)