Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

July 23, 2011

The decline of political terrorism & the rise of religious terrorism

The media has been reporting a lot about Anders Breivik. I’m curious about the tendency of some to label Breivik a “Christian Extremist”. Additionally, there is widespread repetition of the Norwegian official deeming him a “Christian fundamentalist.” I think this is wrong on the specifics, but it also goes toward the general problem of our age where we attempt to fit everything into black-white religious dichotomies. For example, “moderate Muslims” vs. “Islamists.” “Islamic extremists” vs. “Christian extremists.” Because of the salience of notionally religiously motivated Islamic militant movements there has been a shift toward reinterpreting secular nationalist terrorist movements as religious ones. For example, the attempt to frame the Irish Republican Army as Catholic terrorists, or the Tamil Tigers as Hindu terrorists (in reality, both these are nationalist movements, often with a Leftist slant). Or consider the refashioning of Tim McVeigh into a Christian terrorist when he was a lapsed Catholic at best and probably irreligious by the time of his terrorist act. This religionization of all radical movements means that people have a really hard time today digesting the fact that 19th and early 20th century anarchists who committed what seem to be patently suicidal acts were ...

March 12, 2011

The never-ending evil….

Filed under: Culture,Terrorism — Razib Khan @ 8:49 pm

This sort of crap is why you’ll never hear the end of the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, Hindu terrorism charges force India to reflect on prejudices against Muslims:

When a series of bomb attacks ripped through Muslim neighborhoods, mosques and shrines in India in recent years, suspicion fell firmly on a familiar culprit: Islamist terror. After each incident, scores of Indian Muslims were rounded up, and many were tortured. Confessions were extracted, the names of various militant “masterminds” leaked to the media and links with Pakistan widely alleged.

And of course the RSS is saying that this is a conspiracy by the Pakistani military.

December 30, 2009

The engineer terrorist

Filed under: Terrorism — Razib @ 10:25 am

Slate reviews the scholarly literature. Explaining the mechanics of the over-representation of engineers at the higher echelons of transnational terrorism is a guessing game, but the empirical reality seems relatively robust. Though I suspect that sociological and economic factors are necessary (see the linked paper in the article), I think the ultimate precondition has to be the psychology and training of engineers, who are geared toward analysis of a problem and devising a solution. The most ingenious/ridiculous models of Young Earth Creationism seem to spring from the minds of fundamentalist engineers, who must resolve their Biblical literalist premises with the world as it is. One can foresee how the same sort of mentality would be much more explosive in the Islamic world, where the fundamentalist premises lead to a set of inferences (e.g., Islam’s manifest superiority over the West) which seems at variance with the state of the world. The engineer resolves this contradction by devising “solutions.”

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