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NY Times Columnist Compares to al-Qaeda Leader to Jesus, Flatly Rejects Jihadism Had Anything to do With Times Square Bomb Plot…
Warning on this one, the rage factor is off the charts. NYT columnist Robert Wright goes so far as to implore Obama not to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, who he then compares to Jesus Christ all while putting the blame for jihadism on America. And people say liberalism isn't a mental disorder…
(NYT)- One fate the conservative commentator Daniel Pipes doesn't have to worry about is drowning in conceptualcomplexity. He keeps his theories simple. His theory about why Faisal Shahzad tried to blow up a bomb in Times Square last week is "jihadi intent."
Pipes writes dismissively of other explanations — that Shahzad is emotionally unstable, say, or that the bomb was payback for American military action in Pakistan. In Pipes's universe, apparently, these explanations are rivals to the "jihadi intent" explanation, and couldn't figure in an account of how Shahzad came to have jihadi intent in the first place.
Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic seems to agree that jihadism is a kind of prime mover of terrorism. After bloggers noted that Shahzad had lost his home to foreclosure, Goldberg rejected the idea that "the country's financial crisis, and not, say, jihadist ideology, is at the root of Shahzad's desire to commit murder in Times Square."
I'd like to invite Pipes and Goldberg to imagine an alternative universe, a universe in which behaviors — such as planting a bomb — don't have a single "root" cause. In this universe, bomb-planting behavior is kind of like the bombs themselves: a number of ingredients have to come together before things get explosive. If you figure out what those ingredients are, and which of them you can control, maybe you can make bomb-planting behavior less common.
In the universe I'm positing, the following scenario is conceivable:
A Pakistani guy moves to America, goes to college, gets a job, starts a family. He grows unhappy. Maybe he's having financial problems (though I'm skeptical, for reasons outlined by Charles Lane here, that Shahzad's home foreclosure actually signifies as much); or maybe the problem is just that he doesn't find his social niche. And maybe he was a bit unstable to begin with — which would make it harder to find his niche and might intensify his reaction to not finding it.