Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

Why Terror: Islamic Fundamentalism, Revenge or Both?

with 5 comments

by Weiner

More than many liberals and progressives, and more than most of my co-bloggers, I think, I enjoy reading conservatives. Not only because I want to “know my enemy,” but also because few of my beliefs are firmly in place, because I change my mind on many issues time and time again, and because I feel like I have something to learn, even from the die-hards of the Right.

And so I read Charles Krauthammer‘s column in The Washington Post every week. Like me, Krauthammer is a Montreal Jew. I disagree with him on most everything, but I value his clarity of writing and thought, his consistency (which has unfortunately come to border on predictability) and his realism, even if it’s a realism that I don’t think is very hinged to reality.

In his most recent column, however, Krauthammer inadvertently advanced a point of his opponents. In arguing the Islamic fundamentalism is the chief cause of terrorism, Krauthammer wrote of Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter:

Remember the wave of speculation about Hasan’s supposed secondary post-traumatic stress disorder — that he was so deeply affected by the heart-rending stories of his war-traumatized patients that he became radicalized? On the contrary. He was moved not by their suffering but by the suffering they (and the rest of the U.S. military) inflicted on Hasan’s fellow Muslims, in whose name he gunned down 12 American soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar.”

Krauthammer concludes that the chief cause here is Islamic fundamentalism. But what about the “suffering” that the US military has inflicted upon Muslims from Iraq to Afghanistan and beyond? Islamic fundamentalism, like all religious fundamentalism, should not be ignored, but neither should US actions that inspire violent reactions.


Written by David Weinfeld

July 2, 2010 at 15:52

5 Responses

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  1. Nice Post. Robert Wright makes a very similar point about a recent Daniel Pipes article:


    July 2, 2010 at 16:45

  2. While it’s clear that there are some ideologies that support and encourage violence more than others – Islamic fundamentalism being one of them – it’s always necessary to look at the reasons why people choose their ideologies. There are some people, like Moe the Bartender, who will simply shrug and say something like “I was born a snakehandler, and I”ll die a snakehandler,” but most people – especially and obviously Nidal Malik Hasan – at some point make a choice.


    July 2, 2010 at 18:26

  3. That Krauthammer piece is some “they hate for our freedoms” bullshit


    July 5, 2010 at 07:06

  4. Glenn Greenwald has a nice piece that touches on the role the suffering caused by U.S. action has played in recruiting terrorists. He points out that Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, admitted that not only is the number of terrorists being targeted by the United States is very small (a few hundred), but that the actions of the United States have created more terrorists than they have stopped. Pretty chilling.


    July 8, 2010 at 01:30

  5. People are not immune to our actions. They react – sometimes postively, lately quite negatively. The current wave of terrorism (since the 90’s mostly) is reaction.

    Bin Laden’s rage was ignited by the presence of US Troops on Saudi soil (1st Gulf War) – non-believers in Islam’s holy land.

    That he COULD become outraged by something like that speaks to the fundamentalist nature of his beliefs, but still, it was reaction.

    We are not blameless.


    July 11, 2010 at 15:37

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