In December of 2005, Umberto Eco wrote:
G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it – he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.
And in environments that take “outrageous credulity” to its zenith–where anything is believed and everything accepted as just another lifestyle choice, is it any wonder that young men such as John Walker Lindh and Adam Gadahn turn to the polar opposite of that level of anarchy? If you compare their backgrounds and especially their parents’ backgrounds, you’ll see some remarkable similarities.
Or maybe it’s Freudian: James Lileks once compared the boomer reaction to the 1950s as one long “Pissed at Daddy” gesture. Now that dad’s put away his Bing Crosby records and become a Deadhead himself, Lindh and Gadahn have each both delivered the biggest “screw dad” gesture that they ever could.
(“Leading British writer on terrorism and Islamism” Martin Amis puts a similar conclusion into much harsher language.)