ISIS shoots up Paris. France bombs the Internet. The war on modernity seems to be going well, from all sides.
In crisis, opportunity:
The stocks of America’s top weapons manufacturers are climbing as France and the US have renewed their determination to snuff out ISIS. As journalist Aaron Cantu tweeted this morning, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics — 4 of the biggest defense contractors in the world — are expecting to have a big day on Wall Street in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris, as Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch has labeled all 4 on the far end of the “bullish” scale. …
Slavoj Žižek has an article on ISIS in the New York Times, arguing — naturally — that the most prominent problem with the Jihadi movement that has thrown Mesopotamia into bloody chaos and the world into conniptions is its lack of real fundamentalism. For the irredeemably irresponsible (this blog included), it’s a lot of fun. The most convincing passages:
But are the terrorist fundamentalists really fundamentalists in the authentic sense of the term? Do they really believe? What they lack is a feature that is easy to discern in all authentic fundamentalists, from Tibetan Buddhists to the Amish in the United States — the absence of resentment and envy, the deep indifference towards the nonbelievers’ way of life. If today’s so-called fundamentalists really believe they have found their way to Truth, why should they feel threatened by nonbelievers. Why should they envy them? When a Buddhist encounters a Western hedonist, he hardly condemns. He just benevolently notes that the hedonist’s search for happiness is self-defeating. In contrast to true fundamentalists, the terrorist pseudo-fundamentalists are deeply bothered, intrigued and fascinated by the sinful life of the nonbelievers. One can feel that, in fighting the sinful other, they are fighting their own temptation. This is why the so-called fundamentalists of ISIS are a disgrace to true fundamentalism.
The problem with terrorist fundamentalists is not that we consider them inferior to us, but, rather, that they themselves secretly consider themselves inferior. This is why our condescending, politically correct assurances that we feel no superiority toward them only makes them more furious and feeds their resentment. The problem is not cultural difference (their effort to preserve their identity), but the opposite fact that they already like us, that, secretly, they have already internalized our standards and measure themselves by them. Paradoxically, what the fundamentalists of ISIS and those like them really lack is precisely a dose of that true conviction of one’s own superiority.
(I’m leaving off the ‘Humor’ tag, to avoid triggering anybody unnecessarily.)
The primary motive of terrorism is to draw media attention to the perpetrators’ grievances.
Coverage of this kind isn’t about terrorism. It’s an organic component of terrorism.
ADDED: Kaiser Kuo makes an important point: “… people are for the most part writing and talking about the situation as though it’s happening in complete isolation, as though the rise of radical Islam in the rest of the world since the 1980s doesn’t figure in.”
ADDED: US State Department does the right thing.
ADDED: Gordon Moore: Has the Global Jihad Reached China?
ADDED: Some righteous indignation from People’s Daily Online: “There was extensive evidence at the crime scene to leave no doubt that the Kunming Railway station attack was nothing other than a violent terrorist crime. But regardless of this evidence, some western media organizations were unwilling to use the word ‘terrorism’ in their coverage. CNN’s report on March 3 put the word ‘terrorists’ in quotation marks, and offered the view that ‘mass knife attacks’ are ‘not unprecedented’ in China. The intention here was to associate this terrorist incident with a number of attacks that occurred in 2010 and 2012, all the more disgusting because these attacks happened at schools, they were conducted by individuals who were clearly mentally disturbed, and their victims were children. None of the perpetrators had any political connections, or any political motives. The Associated Press report used the term ‘described by the authorities as’ to qualify their use of the word ‘terrorists’. The New York Times and the Washington Post called the terrorists ‘attackers’.”
— Lessons in basic decency from the Chinese media (you’re welcome).