Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Zachary Chesser: One More Problem With Stateless Terrorism

Interesting Washington Post article on the Virginia kid convicted of threatening the "South Park" guys for their portrayal of Mohammed:

"While much about what prompted Chesser's transformation remains a mystery, he illustrates a growing phenomenon in the United States: young converts who embrace the most extreme interpretation of Islam.

Of the nearly 200 U.S. citizens arrested in the past nine years for terrorism-related activity, 20 to 25 percent have been converts, said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism. More than a quarter have been arrested in the past 20 months."

This is why I find demography worrywarts like Mark Steyn somewhat nonsensical. His idea is that extreme Islam will eventually be ascendant because of the birth rates of Middle Eastern immigrants in the West. But radical fundamentalism isn't embedded in anybody's DNA: It's an idea that people are free to consider, accept or reject. Thanks to the Internet, we can't really quarantine that idea, so we should be spending more time and effort trying to counter it. Sure we need to arrest and, occasionally, kill those who threaten America. But we need to take a look at these converts and figure out the attraction of violent fundamentalism. And then we need to find a compelling counterargument. It won't always work, but it might work enough to save a few lives.

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