In my terrorism class, I often found myself flashing back to ninth grade English, when we discussed the Romantic philosophical movement. It generally consisted of young men, going off into the woods, becoming ascetic, writing poetry about blue roses (it's possible I'm making that bit up) and generally seeking all the answers from a wacky guru in the great Somewhere Else. Romantics would generally die out at 35, either from some disease in the woods or marriage and responsibility.
The Netherlands (and the rest of Europe) seem to have been plagued with this “radicalization” phenomenon. Young men (and some women) convert to radical Islam and then decide it would be super cool to hate the West. So they would go off to the great Somewhere Else of Syria, find some Taliban, and try to join up with their friends. Usually, it turns into the worst frat experience ever. Those seeking enlightenment are either distrusted and ignored or given the chance to prove themselves to the kinds of people who blow themselves up to make a point. If you think hazing in Greek culture is bad, try it Mujaheddin style. The guys who actually get to meet members of Taliban (and survive) come back to Europe and tell all their friends how terrible it was. Some try to go off into the great wide Somewhere Else by taking a few city blocks with them. Generally, they don't live past 35, thanks to Taliban accessorizing, or the responsibilities of marriage (except for a few notables who really don't have anything but talking young lads into suicide bombing going for themselves).
The Romantic movement didn't last very long, because it couldn't grow old with one generation long enough to really become a fad with the next. It seems that the Arab Spring is helping that to be true of our modern day Romantics. Something else that's helping out a bit is this picture of Osama Bin Laden. He's a sad old man, clinging to a remote, watching videos of himself from when he was awesome. Who is going to rally behind a guru like that? One of our speakers hypothesized that this was why there haven't been any calls to avenge his death. I'm not so foolish as to think that terrorism will become a thing of the past any time soon, but I'm hoping that it will go the way of our 1960's romantic movement: a little trend that only suits a few on the fringes of society.
Zomg the LAW!
- Taliban, Taliban?