If there’s any general lesson to be drawn from this history, it’s that Islamic terrorism is non-partisan. It’s an understandable human trait to want to think that: if only we leave them alone, or speak more nicely to them, or deny that their apocalyptic visions or political aspirations are unrelated to deeply held religious views, that these outrages will slowly melt away. And that eventually we can all go back to pretending that everyone in the world really aspires to our American metrosexual, urban (or suburban), secular, skeptical, digital, consumerist lifestyles.
It’s a silly to think that we “created” such radicalism. We didn’t. Modernity in general generates reactions against its obvious corruptions and defects. Our multicultural universities, instead of obsessing over microaggresions or Islamo-, homo-, and other “phobias,” perhaps might help us better understand such reactions if they devoted some time to studying how they have emerged in other cultures, and in such murderous form. And from historical circumstances over which no one, not even an American president, has full control.
All of us need to be more engaged in thinking through what we can now do about them. Part of the solution is military, part a battle of ideas. Though let’s be brutally honest: Our influence on Muslim ideology is and will be quite limited. (Read more.)