[star]The American Mind[star]

July 14, 2005

al Qaeda: A Product of the West

What do Kurt Cobain and the London suicide bombers have in common? They were all angst-driven. That's the core of Brendan O'Neill's a thought-provoking piece on the source of al Qaeda's anti-West hatred. He writes,

The drift of young Muslims, whether Western-born or middle-class foreigners, to radical mosques and fundamentalism also surely says something about a malaise at the heart of Western society. Many of these terrorists are not made in Kabul, Cairo or Tehran, but in London, Hamburg and Montreal. Such terrorism, it seems, is less a consequence of far-away fanaticism infiltrating the West, but rather suggests a failure on the part of mainstream institutions in the West to cohere society or to provide individuals with any meaningful sense of identity.

There is a growing sense of atomisation and alienation in the West, not only among immigrants but across society. Homesick Arabs and British-born Muslims in West Yorkshire might feel it more acutely, but it affects everyone in British, American and European societies, in the growth of disillusionment with public institutions and disenfranchisement from the political process. Could it be that the new terrorism, which we consider so awful and alien, is in fact a product of the same corrosive forces that impact on the rest of us? Could it be that those four alienated Asian kids from Leeds were expressing the same angst and disillusionment, in a much more violent way, as anti-globalist campaigners express when they smash up a McDonald's and others of us express in our pissed-off-ness with political and public life?

These are the questions we need to ask, rather than coming up with easy, pat solutions about shutting down mosques and banging up certain imams. When four young men from Leeds who were born, raised and educated here, and who days before the attacks were playing cricket and hanging out with their mates, can head down to London and kill themselves and 60 others, something has clearly gone horribly amiss. Al-Qaeda's 'war' does not represent a clash of civilisations, but rather points to a crisis within Western civilisation itself.

O'Neill doesn't pinpoint the source of the angst. It seems to correspond to the general communitarian view. What strikes me is this has a "the old days were better vibe" to it. What has changed about Western culture and institutions? Is it multiculturalism and/or moral relativism? Is it Marxist economic alientation?

"British-Born Bombers: not so Shocking"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Terrorism at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)