It does violence to the English language to call such avid followers of foreign leaders and foreign doctrines “homegrown terrorists.” They may have lived here, they may even have been born here, but at a certain point they became alienated and turned to non-American visions and visionaries.
The inner turmoil of such terrorists has been well described by the famous writer V.S. Naipaul:
Everyone who is not an Arab who is a Muslim is a convert. Islam is not simply a matter of conscience or belief. It makes imperial demands. A convert’s worldview alters. His holy places are in Arab lands; his sacred language is Arabic. His idea of history alters. He rejects his own; he becomes…a part of the Arab story….People develop fantasies about who and what they are; and in the Islam of converted countries there is an element of neurosis and nihilism. These countries are easily set on the boil.
Those people are boiling, too, perhaps more so in a non-Muslim land like ours than in countries that have gone over to Islam. The same intense inner strife applies to those who join other totalitarian mass movements, whether Nazi, fascist, or Communist.
They are not homegrown. They are converts, and they have taken leave of us to join our enemies.
The people to whom the usual meaning of “homegrown terrorist” can be accurately applied are the nativist right-wingers like the Aryan Nation. But they are not the folks about whom the myth is commonly used.
There, doesn’t that feel better? Your 50 minutes are up. We accept credit cards and Blue Cross.
Coming Soon: The Myth of the Threat of War.