Monday, April 22, 2013

On not going out on a limb . . .

Fragment of Pressure Cooker Bomb

When I first heard that two bombs had exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the second bomb about thirteen seconds after the first, I instantly formed an opinion about the probable identity of who was responsible but kept it mostly to myself and refrained from posting a blog entry. After the two brothers who carried out the attack were identified as Islamist terrorists, I read what my friend Kevin Kim had posted about the news:
As I tried to say earlier, theories that the Boston Marathon bombing were somehow linked to home-grown Tim McVeigh types or to Kim Jeong-eun (for God's sakes, what??) were asinine, as were the calls for "open-minded" consideration of who the guilty parties might be. It didn't take a genius to figure out that this was another instance of Islamic extremism, and sure enough, the perpetrators -- caught with incredible swiftness by local and federal law-enforcement authorities -- turned out to be two disaffected Chechen Muslims who were both biological brothers and brothers in arms. One sibling is now dead; the other was caught while bleeding from wounds suffered during a firefight.
I then left the following comment to Kevin's post:
Because there were two explosions, the terrorist attack fit the Islamist method of operations -- kill innocents by surprise, then kill the innocents running to help.

I mentioned the point to a colleague at work, but I didn't blog on the point because I didn't want to chance being wrong and accused of prejudice.
Kevin replied in a follow-up comment:
I think the only people who'd have accused you of prejudice are members of the PC brigade who deliberately refuse to put 2 and 2 together. You've zeroed in on exactly the evidence that convinced me this attack was Islamist.
I'm gratified to have good company. When I told my wife about the bombing, I said that I suspected Islamist terrorists because of the two bombs. A couple of days later, I spoke with an Ewha colleague who'd studied at Harvard and thus knows the bombed area, and I mentioned my observation to her. She's also not a "Politically Correct" type, so my reasoning immediately clicked with her.

I therefore agree with Kevin that the Islamist character of this terrorist attack was clear from the start, and most of us know this, if not for the pattern -- the two bombs -- then for the sheer likelihood of the act itself, given that the vast majority of terrorist attacks these days are carried out by Islamists, a fact that has surely forced itself into everyone's mind by now even if people disagree on "root causes."

As for root causes, those would differ from individual to individual, but the crucial question is this: what is there in Islam that makes its teachings apparently so susceptible to misconstrual and misuse by fanatics?

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At 5:50 AM, Anonymous Erdal said...

You may find yesterday's article by Bernard Lewis worth your time. The old man has considerably hardened.

At 6:03 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Erdal, and good to hear from you again.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Shannon Hodges said...


I had the same thoughts of Islamic terrorism when the bombs exploded in Boston--most Americans likely dis as well. Equally disturbing that a religion can produce such radical extremism is the almost as disturbing near-silence from moderate Muslims.

Now, let's examine ourselves regarding violence. The U.S. has for more than a decade led the western world in violent deaths which many, including the National Academy of Science have attributed to the easy availability of handguns. We usually average around 10,000 (give or take) deaths by handguns annually and even when accounting for population this is out-of-whack with densely populated countries.
such as Japan.

Furthermore, our public schools have witnessed wave upon wave of high profile mass killing sprees. Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut was the latest, following Paducah, KY, Columbine, CO, Jonesboro, AR, etc. We have numerous such tragedies at U.S. colleges, from the University of Texas in the late 1960's, to Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, etc. We also are the world's leader in mass murderers.

So, to be fair, what is it in the American fiber that produces such a violent-oriented society? More disturbing perhaps has been our inability to admit to a problem and our blatant refusal to craft policies to address violence.

Yes, Islam has much work to do---and so do we.

Shannon Hodges

At 2:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't have a clue whether Shannon, you've looked at the figures for "the US has led the western world in violent deaths (from handguns?)" - but I'd suggest you take a look at the figures for Brazil.

As for "the world's leader in mass murderers" - if that'd be small scale mass murderers - I'd agree. However I'd differ where mass murderers on an Industrial Scale is reckoned.

Except maybe insofar as Mao didn't have much "industry" properly speaking.

Herschel D.

At 6:09 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Shan, this Chechen brothers' case is interesting for the possible overlap of Islamist violence and America's dysfunctional violence in explaining why the two brothers committed this atrocity.

But ultimately, I think that jihadist ideology is what inspired the older brother, who influenced the younger.

And unless somebody raises the issue, I wouldn't talk about both sorts of violence in a single discussion because I think it's comparing apples and oranges -- okay, they're both round and both fruit, but otherwise very different.

I would grant, however, that an alienated young man might be drawn to Islamism and commit violence in its name that he might have committed as a non-Muslim sociopath.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Herschel, there's also the issue of what to do about the gun violence in the US. From what I've seen in various analyses, a gun ban wouldn't work.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually Jeff, that's why the very specific mention of Brazil.

Total ban on private gun ownership. Brazil's gun homicides last year exceeded 38,000.


At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make that 2011.


At 8:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, HD.

Jeffery Hodges

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