Saturday, May 14, 2005

The cult of the suicide-bomber-loving-lefties

Madeleine Bunting is campaigning for high priestess:
Elements of all these precedents can be traced in the research done on motivations of suicide bombers in Palestine, Chechnya and al-Qaida and probably now those in Iraq. A sense of humiliation and the need to avenge honour on the part of their faith and/or people (or a potent combination of both as in Iraq) is emphasised by Khosrokhavar. He also picks up on how hating the world (because of the experience of injustice and oppression) leads to a longing for death - a rejection of this world's vale of tears.

These are concepts which are very difficult for westerners living largely comfortable lives to grasp. Honour is meaningless to us; we have replaced it with a preoccupation with status and self-fulfilment. We dimly grasp self-sacrifice but only apply the concept to our raising of children. Meanwhile, nothing can trump our dedication to the good life of consumer capitalism, and certainly not any system of abstract beliefs. Not having experienced the desperation of oppression, we have little purchase on the extremism it might engender. Meanwhile, we have medicalised rather than politicised the condition of hating the world and longing for death. The gulf in understanding yawns wide.

But our outraged incomprehension of suicide bombing is also partly because it is the opposite of how we have come to believe wars are fought. It is not the high technology of laser-guided bombs, nor the strangely sterile detachment of the aeroplane camera without any images of the screams, smashed bones and blood. The west can only now kill from a distance - preferably from several thousand feet up in the air or several hundred kilometres away on an aircraft carrier. It is the very proximity of these suicide missions which is so shocking. This kind of intimate killing is a reversion to pre-industrial warfare - the kind of brutality seen in the thirty years war, for example. Suicide bombers in Iraq are a new permutation of old traditions; they have no monopoly on the horrors they reveal of the human psyche and its capacity to destroy life.
There's no doubt which side Madeleine's rooting for in the clash of civilizations: she's all for the civilian targeting maniacs who'd like to suicide bomb us back to the pre-industrial age.


Anonymous The Tetrast said...

Omnicide bombers. In the small and perhaps, eventually, in the large.

5:28 AM  

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