Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What are suicide bombers?

Here is a brilliant article on that sociological type known as the radical loser, and how they can become suicide bombers.

I think that we all need to reconsider how we respond to suicide bombers. There seem to be two common Western responses to these bombers and both are fairly unsatisfactory. To illustrate, I'm going to link to this Iranian cartoon on suicide bombing. Most people will agree that, as misguided as our response to suicide bombings is, it is not as pathological as a culture that seems to celebrate suicide bombers. But, I use the cartoon, and specifically the messages in response to it as a means to illustrate two types of response:

1) Suicide bombing as "resistance". "you have to realize that from these people's perspective, it's an issue of justice. Family members are murdered in this story (and in real life), and so, I think it's a bit disingenous to ignore the fact that these people have no other recourse for justice, other than taking it into their own hands. Unfortunate, but not barbaric. "

This doesn't really work as an explanation because it ignores the hateful irrationality of the act. These people have "no other recourse" than what would seem to be the most psychotic one imaginable? Consider how many suicide bombers target civilians, and not just civilians, but children. How exactly is slaughtering civilian children, in the Iraqi case potentially on your own side, a last possible resort? From a tactical standpoint, every other recourse I can think of would be better suited to "resistance" than sending a young person to blow up your own civilians, thereby turning them against your cause.

The only logical motivation for these attacks would seem to be to instill fear in those civilians- to commit such an irrational and vicious act that civilians will be terrified. It seems more like a supposed military coup than anything else- like a guerrila group that slaughters entire villages to cow the populace. I think it's supposed to seem irrational and meaningless to us, and even evil. This is indeed how losers have always gained power over others- the irrational and pathological act conveys power. My guess, and I think it's the logical one, is that these people don't want to resist a foreign power so much as instill themselves as a sort of military dictatorship.

2) So, Suicide bombers as "evil" seems to miss the point as well. It makes them out to be somehow more powerful than they really are. It does their work for them. These aren't members of some totalitarian world power- these are scattered handfuls of losers. Perhaps the proper response would be to point out how pathetic it is to murder children. Or, as horrible as this sounds, to ridicule them. I think these are the same sort of alienated wimps who have always tried to scare the rest of us into obeying their will. What we need to remember is that they can't possibly win.

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