Most of us agree that the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Buildings are evil. After all, Bush and Cheney keep telling us so. But they say nothing about the roots of terrorism. That’s not quite correct. They seem to suggest that if we talk about the roots of terrorism we are being soft on terrorists. Which, of course, is nonsense.
An article in today’s Globe makes this point. It is by Thomas Homer-Dixon, director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto. He says enormous research has been done on the roots of terrorism and a clearer picture is now emerging. “… participants in terrorism tend to be men in their twenties or thirties who are ferociously angry because of powerful feelings of humiliation. The humiliation can have many sourc esx, but it’s likely to arise when relatively well-educated young menare deeply frustrated by a lack of political and economic opportunity and when, at the same time, they strongly identify with a group, society or culture they perceive as oppressed or exploited. Extremist leaders then inflame and manipulate these feelings of humiliation, partly by defining the “enemy” – the group or society that’s responsible for all problems and that should be the target of attack.”
Why couldn’t we have a national debate using those terms rather than the mindless “evil” spouted by Bush and Cheney?