Islamic Army in India.
Again and again in the past few years the Western world has been hit be spectacular terrorist strikes. With each such strike, a brief burst of straight reporting occurs, to be followed by anguished analyzing that seeks to explain, and explain away, the terrorist strike.
Not every single act, it is pointed out, is organized or directed by a central enemy authority. But that does not mean that there is not a singular consistent thread to them, and that's the single most glaring deficiency in our failure to understand the people who are attacking us.
In the US every attack, save for that which occurred on 9/11, is explained away in psychological terms or passed off as a conventional crime. It can't be the case, we believe, that any sane person really wishes to harm us. They must, therefore, be insane.
And, indeed, many of them may be, or perhaps are partially, or are perhaps otherwise deluded.
In the Middle Ages when the Norsemen descended on Northern Europe among their most fierce combatants were Beserkers.
The dude on the right is a Berserker.
This wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility or even that uncommon. Throughout man's long history there are plenty of instances of the nutty, distressed, or deluded being employed in combat. It isn't that novel. And for that matter a cause sometimes attracts people who are disturbed and distressed. Again, examples abound. What better way for a malignant personality to justify his hatred then by linking into to a campaign of hatred? Do we believe that everyone, for example, who was in the SS had just been convinced by Nazi ideology, or do we accept that some were just sickos who used that as an excuse? Did every Red murderer in the revolutionary Russia really feel a hard devotion to the proletariat, or were some just nasty creeps? What about Baron Ungern-Sternberg of the Russian Civil War. Did his devotion to the Whites cause him to do all those creepy acts, or was something else going on?
The distressing Baron Ungern-Sternberg of the Russian Civil War.
All of which is to suggest this. Yes, there's some real whackos who attach themselves to warfare, and they aren't always directed by a central authority. But that doesn't mean that the combating authority doesn't adopt their actions or give them motivation to act. Yes, Berserkers were berserk, and not all Norsemen were by any means. But they used them. And not every German was a pathological hater of Jews, but that didn't mean that the Nazi government couldn't find employment for those who were. You get the point.
And the wider point is that movements that adopt and excuse such behavior define themselves by it. Some German soldiers were nothing more than clerks wanting to go home. But the Nazis were evil. Most Norsemen were farmers at heart, but their viking raids by which they are remembered were truly murderous.
We have now seen, in North America, a repeated series of attacks by people who claim allegiance to a hard line Islamic theology. It's easy to say "oh, they're sick", but that's a risky assumption. Not all are, likely. And these attacks are accompanied by deadly ones in Europe. In a little under a month we've seen one man claim allegiance to ISIL and strike a bar in Florida. While were looking for the reason and rejecting the one he gave, and wondering if trying to disarm the American public might be the solution, and even deadlier attack followed up in Nice France.
Ban the truck?
That's not going to work.
Send them all in for psychoanalysis? That's not going to work either.
Maybe we ought to start with just acknowledging what's going on. An element of Islam is at war with us. No, not every element. And not every Muslim either. But some are, and its more than a handful. And, like it or not, they're amongst the most observant and hardcore. They may also be way off the mark in their own interpretation of Islam. But pretending that they don't have one, and that those who answer that call are simply insane, is in error.