Last night at the gym, I listened to the Ricochet podcast recorded this past Friday featuring Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger of NRO interviewing Victor Davis Hanson. (Wait, isn't this the sort of thing that everyone listens to while they're on the treadmill?) In contrast to all of the self-imposed cluelessness on the left, at one point, VDH posited a fascinating hypothesis on the push-pull nature of Muslim immigrants who are attracted to America because of its freedoms and liberal nature (the old school definition, not necessarily liberal=leftist), and then become repulsed by that very freedom and liberality and retreat by returning to Islam and becoming radicalized:
VDH: We’ve seen 40 or 50 of these foiled plots and isolated, lone-wolf killers. And 75 percent seem to be angry losers, usually male, usually between, I don’t know, 18 and 30, and usually returning to Islam, or adapting Islam. I’m thinking of the guy in Seattle that shot up the shopping center. I’m thinking of the Iranian guy at North Carolina campus. The person who attacked the Jewish Center in Seattle. John Muhammad, that was executed, the sniper.
They’re not coordinated with Al-Qaeda. I think I wrote a couple of articles for NRO titled “Al-Qaedistic” or “Al-Qaedist.” Al-Qeada resonates to them in a spontaneous fashion.
CHAREN: Yes. Isn’t it fair to say that none of them was married, so they felt unsuccessful in their romantic lives. They were unsuccessful in their professional lives in some way or other. Although in the case of [US Army Maj.] Hasan, it’s a little bit of a two-way street. That is, his accelerating craziness on the subject of religion impeded his professional advancement somewhat, though he still had a pretty cushy position in the US military.
VDH: And they generally tend to interpret liberality or kindness by the society at large as a sign of decadence or weakness. They resent the hand that feeds them. They feel that, “you people don’t have any standards. You don’t have any hierarchies, you don’t have any traditions. Therefore, I love to come to your country, compared to the misery that I left. However, once I got here, I’m finding myself becoming like you, and therefore, I’ve got to go back to Islam.”
But it never makes sense. When I heard that one of the terrorists that was killed was going back to Chechnya, I thought, well, wait a minute: we offered him asylum, on the premise that it was too dangerous for him to live openly there. So he had to flee to the United States. And he gets here – and then we gave him a visa to go back there. Why would he go back if he was endangered there in the first place?
That’s obviously – not obviously, but likely where he got his training to do this stuff that he did.
CHAREN: We have to be a little cautious, because all of this is very new, and truth is the first casualty, and all of that. A lot of this is very preliminary information. But based on what I have seen today, the older brother tweeted some of the exact things that you’re talking about, Victor. He tweeted that he has no American friends, he doesn’t understand them, people have no standards anymore. And he doesn’t drink and he doesn’t smoke [because] Islam forbids this.
And I thought, what kind of a twisted imagination – and it isn’t just this individual, it afflicts, alas, millions of people. What kind of a twisted moral system allows you to conclude that you are the moral superior of people who are sexually loose? Who allow dancing between men and women; allow a lot of things that many of us probably disapprove of. But nevertheless, approve of blowing up eight year olds and innocent at a marathon. It’s just mindboggling.
VDH: Especially [GARBLED DUE TO CROSSTALK] that the culture that welcomed here. I mean, there is this old, ancient idea of ingratitude. I mean, he could have easily stayed in Chechnya if it was so wonderful, and dealt with the Russians, but his family chose not to. So they came out to an embracing, affable society that allowed them a second chance in a way that millions would have only dreamed of. And then his reaction is to do that to the society that nourished him.
And it’s disgusting, but it’s almost as if, the more that he sees this popular culture that we’ve been talking about. And then he sees the official reaction: “man-caused disasters,” “overseas contingency operations"; can’t use the word “terrorist"; can’t use the word “Islamist"; gotta create an idea of “workplace violence” for Maj. Hasan. He gets the other message that we’re sort of so easy-going that nothing really gets us upset. And instead of having respect for that liberality, he grows contemptuous of it.
As Tobin concludes his post at Commentary:
The desire to deny that Islamism is the driving force behind homegrown terrorists and their crimes is rooted in the myth of a post 9/11 backlash against Muslims. That entirely fictional idea that Muslims were subjected to widespread discrimination has no basis in fact, but it is an article of faith in certain sectors of the left and in the mainstream liberal media. It is one thing to try and delegitimize pro-active vigilance against Islamism by falsely alleging bias in the actions of the government or even the general population. It is quite another to deny, as even leftist comedian Bill Maher pointed out last week, that “There’s only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith.”
If even Bill Maher can figure it out, why can't the rest of the left?
Some thoughts on why can be found here.
Related: Tim Blair asks, "How confident was the Sydney Morning Herald that the Boston bombers were associated with the Tea Party? So confident that last Friday it ran this teapot terror image."
(Thumbnail on PJM homepage based on a modified Shutterstock.com image.)