Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Don't Understand these Radical Changes

When I heard that an America-born Jihadi died for ISIS, I pretty much just shook my head. Maybe it's because my own spiritual search has always been a bit noncommittal and my political persona developed very early in life, but seeing people like John Walker Lindh or Adam Gedahn or Jihad Jane sort of fries the circuits of my understanding.

It's not that I don't grasp the idea of fighting or dying for something larger than oneself or being spiritually moved by some system of thought--those things are enough a part of the human experience that I can even grasp where, in a certain context, they could be viewed as noble. It's just that people from our particular culture finding that particular brand of restrictive, violent,  and ultimately, eliminationist strain of religious war strikes me as uniquely...weird.

It's not that I can't criticize my culture. American culture is kind of race and class-biased, has a short attention-span, values the trivial over deep analysis, and is not without its own violence and parochial religious attitudes in certain pockets. But I love it because I can criticize it and the understanding is that it's my prerogative to do so. Al-Qaeda and ISIS don't seem to be quite so understanding about the intellectual prerogatives of the individual, and argue, not with apologia, but, you know. Beheadings and that sort of thing.

I utterly can not grasp the appeal. But if there is some number of people drawn to that kind of violence, I have to guess there must be one. Which makes me a bit contemptuous of the idea that we necessarily have to go to war with the whole of radical Islam (in a "War on Terror", or even specifically on ISIL) to prevent "them" from coming "here". "They" are somehow able to have "their" ideas take root here, and just like the Tsarnaevs were already here and carried out an act of terror, there's no particular war front that will make us completely safe from that possibility. Dylan and Klebold, James Holmes, Jared Loughner, and Adam Lanza had no specific ideological radicalization at all, and managed to do a lot of damage to human life.   Anders Brevik would have despised the ideology that produced a Douglas McAuthor McCain (such an American name!), but he was no different in mindset, only his adopted labels. And was a gutlessly selective mass killer of innocent young people.

I'm left thinking that humanity has an enormous hang-up where we find excellent reasons to kill one another, and hardly any good enough reasons to understand one another. And this isn't the first time I've thought that, either. It's not always the case. It's just often enough the case to be genuinely depressing.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Dylan and Klebold, James Holmes, Jared Loughner, and Adam Lanza had no specific ideological radicalization at all, and managed to do a lot of damage to human life.

Which is still no where close to the amount of damage done to human life by David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer, Fred Hiatt, AEI, and the politicians they support.

Vixen Strangely said...

True enough-instigators can have clean hands but even more poisoned minds. People whose very job lies in finding justification for violence is pretty much the very worst sort of person. Even the jihadi-come-latelies probably have a better sense of self than the "agitate at any cost" folks. A mofo like Bill Kristol has very clean hands, but has probably his ownself resulted in so many deaths. Grim to think about.

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, to conflate some editorial writers with people who will literally slice off the heads of innocent people is outrageous.

Victor Frankl said that we are not here to find pleasure or escape pain, but rather to find a meaning in our lives.

There is a huge need in human beings for meaning, and people will go to great lengths to find it. Climb Mt Everest; ride inner tubes over Niagara Falls; read through libraries. Etc.

In the United States meaning used to be part of being an American and usually a Christian. Over the years, a lot of incongruities collected, and after VietNam the rats ran out from underneath the rug.

We begin a period of deconstructing the meaning that America once held. In World War II, men went into battle with certainty about the justification of their cause.

Frankl said that what a person needed to do was find something worth living and dying for. And earlier generations knew what that was.

The deconstruction began to disarm all the principles that previously had given meaning to the lives of Americans. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the deconstruction did not stop with righting the wrongs and correcting misperceptions, but became a new engine of possibilities uncovering greater levels of misdeeds even when now the deconstruction was arguable.

Human beings always go too far, and when you get to the point that you begin to weaken your country's eggregore and create entropy where once there was purpose, you begin to make the country vulnerable in many different ways.

These 300 ISIS members who carry American passports are the result of people looking for meaning in their lives, something worth living and dying for, and now our intellectual class has spent 30 or 40 years deconstructing our views of religion, our views of Western philosophy, our views of Western literature, and replaced them with an effete ambiguity. Nothing to believe in, nothing to stiffen the spine, no meaning to be found. Just insipid, faux outrage and ill-constructed perceptions of life.

So we have actually now started to strengthen the eggregore of our enemies by allowing our own to be deflated. In a peaceful world this may have been possible. Now it may lead to our destruction.

In the Mafia the high point of life is for some Italian to "be made." "Get straightened out." "Get his button." Now he's a made guy, a wise guy. He knows who he is and what family he represents. Of course he has to kill somebody, but that is a small price to pay for being an agent of the full power and strength of his Mafia family.

In the Bloods and the Crips it's blood in and blood out. And whereas in the mafia the young hit man had to kill someone for a purpose (someone was going to rat or someone was behind on the vig...), in the Bloods and the Crips sometimes you've got to do a drive-by. You just drive around and kill some total stranger. Now you have meaning. You're part of a family. You know who you are and other people know who you are.

In the Hell's Angels, the Outlaws, Pagans, Banditos, you go thought literal hell to get your patch. A fully patched-in member of an outlaw motorcycle gang has gone through crap most of us cannot believe. He now has an identity. You have to kill him to take that patch off his back. He will live and die for that patch. And if it requires him to kill a bunch of guys it's worth it.

So you can see we have examples in the US that help us understand these young, disaffected men living in a world where the purpose of being an American has been deconstructed. The US has become very weak in many ways.

We would be wise to stop short of destroying the United States and further empowering our enemies.