Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Terror In The Unemployment Line?

Myriad experts have offered myriad explanations as to why many Middle Easterners are so militant and so violent towards anyone or anything Western, and hence so eager to become terrorists.

A commonly cited reason is economic: They’re poor, they don’t have jobs, they have no hope in life. So, since the afternoon soaps aren’t all that good over there, they have nothing better to do than stand around in male-only groups in the street, pound their fists in the air, brandish pictures of their favorite clerics and shout violent anti-West rhetoric until their number is called.

We have all sorts of poverty in the US, too. Joblessness, homelessness, slums, housing projects. And our federal government is blamed – often justly – for contributing to or doing little to alleviate much of it. That said, we’ve not seen anything akin to a group of housing project residents or a cadre of the homeless hijacking an airliner and using it as a missile against the federal government to draw attention to their grievances.

Another prevalent explanation for anti-West hatred is our “conquest” of or intervention in their lands. While this may be valid, other peoples have experienced the same treatment and reacted very differently.

For example, we’ve not seen any modern-day Native American radicals launch terrorist attacks against the government for taking away their land and forcing them onto tiny casinos. Nor have we heard anything about aborigines planning an attack on the Sydney Opera House during the fat lady’s aria. Nor the Yanomamo trying to disrupt Carnivale in Rio with hand-carved WMDs.

While the anti-West crowd may have legitimate reasons to be mad, how they choose to respond to that anger speaks to a lot more than unemployment or real estate disputes. There’s something much more fundamental to the makeup of those individuals at work here.

What could it be?

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