Terrorists actually are never even politically motivated. Not ever.
My readers already know that my interests are split between solving the human race's problems and solving 'marketing disruption.' As the former takes precedence, by just a smidgen, over the latter, indulge me in re-making a point that is rather pertinent to the entire world at the moment on the subject of terrorists' motivations. These two words actually form a non sequitur.
My first blog post seven years ago stirred up a great deal of commentary. It was an op-ed letter to the Toronto Star in November of 2008 in response to the sensationalist and entirely misguided media coverage of the deranged murder of an elderly Ontario couple at a beach resort in Mexico in 2006 near where I lived for six years. Titled "Our Developed World Glasses Tend to be Rose Coloured" (link), I pointed out that, outside of the so-called 'Developed World,' both the police and judicial systems are largely criminal (run almost entirely upon corruption).
This means that in the majority of tourist destinations in the world (and ALL of the 'off the beaten path' destinations) you are always just a hair's breadth from finding yourself in a life-altering, mind boggling situation (think of the 1978 movie "Midnight Express"). Of course problems of that magnitude require some MAJOR errors in judgement, but they happen all the time in Mexico, often times due to no fault of the tourist, and are virtually never investigated, much less ever solved judicially.
I bring that post of mine up because it 'frames' the most fundamental problem that the majority of humans living in their developed world countries have in wrapping their heads around just how monumentally different the daily living situation of people outside of our cozy bubble is. "Westerners" see Syrian refugees with cell phones and assume "They're just like us in every way because they have a cell phone and the clothing they have on isn't in tatters!" The "new normal' our brain's use to filter things through tells us that they should go back home and apply for a job, like being a bank teller. Here's the bank our cozy brain wants them to apply to:
When our brains, stuck in our cozy 'new normal,' follow the media's constant, insane search for 'motivation' ("Police are still trying to identify a motive for the mass shooting/bombing/attempted beheading..."), we start to assign motives to insanity because WE ASSUME THE NUT-JOBS ARE AS SANE AS WE ARE!
"Well why would you or I try to remove some stranger's head with a knife? That person must have had a good reason. Sure, their actions were a bit extreme....but the only thing that makes me feel angry enough to hurt someone is when my intuitive understanding of the world based on my religion is challenged....so this individual must have become 'radicalized' by a religion!"Problem solved! All of the craziness that unfiltered access to the Internet is now empowering and stoking must be the direct result of an organized religion, just like all the crazy cult behaviour we are familiar with from the past 50 years going back to Jonestown Massacre was the result of a pseudo-religious nut-job preacher gathering a bunch of willing 'lost sheep' and giving their lives meaning through indoctrination in his lunatic creation of a new 'religious' dogma.
Ah.... But we no longer need a leader to do this We have the Internet, and on the Internet you can access 1,000 blog posts and podcasts and videos from 1,000 nut-jobs 24/7 virtually for free -- without leaving your parents' basement. And the videos don't just feature a preacher TELLING you graphic stories of beheadings and jihad, THEY ACTUALLY SHOW THE BEHEADINGS IN SLOW MOTION!
My dear reader, in countries where people are busy trying to prevent their kids from incoming bombs raining down upon them any second, where food has gone missing because all the stores and banks and schools are bombed out and where, outside of the totalitarian regime putting your neighbour to death on a whim, there never was any real policing or judicial fairness ever, it isn't too hard to get the most reasonable and peace-loving able-bodied men to pick up weapons and follow the closest dude with a commanding presence into battle. What else are they going to do?!? I'll tell you what else: they try to get the fuck out of there to try to find a better life elsewhere. To do so they wear their best clothes and carry their cell phones to stay in touch with their families, just like you would, Mr. New Normal.
Those able-bodied, average (or smarter!) IQ refugees are NOT the ones we need to worry about. It's the nut-jobs at home, many of whom are shipping off to the new caliphate right now, who we have to be worried about. And here's some news: they aren't religious nut-jobs -- they're just nut-jobs. They are not carrying out the political vision of Osama bin Laden to force developed, non-Muslim majority countries out of Arab countries (he really wasn't trying to do that, bin Laden was just a mass-murdering nut-job like Adolf Hitler was). They are not carrying out the mandate for Islamic jihad that some Imams wherever are nattering on about in order to give them some power at home.
If you wake up one morning and suddenly (it never happens suddenly) get the impulse to take the lives of as many fellow humans as you can, you are not a religious radical -- you're just a nut-job. Humans have become the 6th mass extinction force on planet Earth because we are a social species who live together by, as a majority, imposing rules of conduct upon our craziest nut-jobs members so that the rest of us can live safely and propagate endlessly. If they don't behave, we imprison, expel or kill them. This social survival strategy works pretty well until some major nut-job like Adolf Hitler or Vladimir Putin manages to manipulate our most foolish voters' instinctive 'nationalism' ("Ours are the chosen, special people!") into allowing them into absolute power positions. When the latter happens, to survive and support their families unmolested even the most peaceful, rational citizen tends to go with the flow, sadly.
So please stop with the 'looking for a motivation' compulsion and stop accepting the false (but cozy) notion that these nut-jobs have become 'RADICALIZED.' They are not extremists of one religious or political belief or another. They are not 'soldiers just following the mandates of their national army.' They are not 'terrorists' (a label that bestows the legitimacy of some vague political manifesto upon them). They are human beings just like that kid next door with sadly screwed up brain wiring that they were either born with or were traumatized into through a knock on the head or emotional/psychological torture/abuse.
Once a pathetic nut-job begins to feel special, included, needed, empowered, etc. by some asinine cause or another (can be political in the case of Quebec's FLQ, or Italy's Red Brigade, or Germany's Baader-Meinhof Gang, etc., or religious/cult-inspired, or cultural/nationalistic in the case of Rwanda's Hutus & Tutsis, or Zimbabwe's blacks vs. whites, or a mix of several in the case of Ireland's IRA) their brains begin the inexorable march toward the dark edge of insanity and murder (any human who gets a thrill out of extinguishing the life of fellow humans is, by definition of our social, self-propagating species, insane). Yes, you can use the word 'extreme' and 'radical' to describe what their brains are directing them towards, but the net effect has little to do with our naturally imagined 'causation.' They will go down this path the moment they get access to an excuse and they will drag another few fellow sociopathic 'fence sitters' along with them.
We are now seeing tens of thousands of these nut-jobs adopting the Muslim religion in order to fulfill the dark impulses of their faulty human hard wiring and migrate to 'the caliphate' that now encompasses the north eastern part of Syria and the north western portion of Iraq. While their numbers have swelled from a few thousand to as much as 30,000 today, there are still only a few of any of the 'supplier countries'' nut-jobs who have taken the opportunity (and made considerable effort) to live out their darkest fantasies. In any population of the world we have a LARGE percentage of nut-jobs. It's nothing new, it's just the bell curve of human sanity. It only takes one nut-job to perpetrate a mass killing -- the US has has 353 so far this year, few of which were committed by Muslims (How are you going to solve THAT, Mr. Trump?).
To blame one religion or another is just bigotry. Every major religion, even the commonly misinterpreted Quran, preaches FIRST & FOREMOST peace and harmony, and only in short passages (that must be filtered by the realities of the time they were created -- the entire global human population in the year 0 AD was about that of modern day Japan) do they lay out prescriptions (probably written by nut-jobs back then) for self-defense and conscription through coercion: the threat of death.
'Terror-perpetrators' are not 'motivated' by religion or politics. These nut-jobs are not 'religious people.' They are not even 'terrorists' (in the sense that they are perpetuating some kind of legitimate, coherent, rational objective). They are nut-jobs looking to live out their fantasies of taking underage women as sex slaves (even if it will be in 'heaven') and murdering/beheading fellow humans, preferably in large numbers. Their 'motivation' is to listen to the voices in their heads and do things that none of the vast majority of normal fellow humans want to do.
When we foolishly (but understandably, given our social nature to nod along with the majority) legitimize these pathetic nut-jobs with labels like 'terrorist' or 'radical' we undermine the effort we must all make, as the sane majority, to understand WHAT they are in order to begin to identify WHO they are. Only once we begin to drop political correctness (my only point that I have any support for Donald Trump on) in order to say:
"Sorry. We've figured out that you are a nut-job and at risk for escalating to the point of killing your fellow humans, so we are NOT going to treat you with all the respect and freedoms the rest of us enjoy. You are 'special' and we're going to have to treat you as such BEFORE you find some bullshit on the Internet to set you off."Yes, these nut-jobs are somebody's kids. Yes, most wouldn't escalate to extreme levels of 'acting out' if they had no access to today's Internet (nor did the low-empathy bullies who traumatize them in their most vulnerable years). Yes, our developed world glasses tend to be rose coloured and we believe it is only fair to 'live and let live' -- BUT THE LATTER IS THE POINT! These nut-jobs among us are screwed up enough that they want to act out and kill the rest of us and we are now facing a FRIGHTENED (not brave) new world where this radical experiment we unleashed on the world to distribute cheap, unfettered and unfiltered access to the Internet through smart phones and WiFi is helping to inspire mass killers to take action. A radical solution is now required, whether we like it or not.