Re: TERRORISM: looking for solutions

From: Adrian `Guru Zeb` Harper (
Date: Wed Sep 12 2001 - 16:52:18 MDT

Sorry about the length of this post i hope it's worth it, please persevere. :)

At 14:34 12/09/01, you wrote:
> Some more or less random thoughts on the events of yesterday.
>On the technical/security side:
> I think the risk of a repeat attack using the same methods by the same
>group or similar ones is very low. The 9/11/01 attacks have put a spotlight
>on the gaping security holes that the attackers were able to exploit and
>those holes will now be plugged. The cost of plugging them WILL likely
>bankrupt a number of airlines, though and, in that, the terrorists will have
>secured yet another victory.
> The clues now coming to light will probably provide sufficient leads that
>the surviving members of the cabal that perpetrated the crimes will be
>identified fairly quickly. I'm guessing that the perpetrators didn't try to
>cover their tracks very hard. However, I'll bet that the links to bin-Laden
>will be tenuous at best, but nevertheless real. The scenario I now think
>most likely is that bin-Laden's core leadership cell only generally defined
>the target and methodology and then severed connections to the action cells
>that carried out the attacks under separate and autonomous leadership. The
>most direct connections will be through funding. Most like scenario there:
>Autonomous funds set up and access granted ahead of time to the action
>cells, with further contact between the funds and bin-Laden severed.
> I've said for years that civil aviation provides one of the primary weapons
>to terrorists seeking to attack the US. I took no comfort from being proved
>right yesterday as I watched the second impact on the WTC in real-time. I
>only hope that those whose job is security will be thinking about the other
>scenarios I've imagined. I won't even describe them here, but they're
>obvious enough to anyone with half a brain.
>On the political/security front:
> I do expect further attacks from similar autonomous cells, invigorated by
>the "success" of the events of 9/11/01. Thus, we're likely to see a much
>increased impact of security behavior in our lives from now on. I think the
>fears about this triggering a "police state" are overblown.

>My father's
>generation went through the years of World War II with their basic civil
>liberties intact, although temporarily and modestly curtailed during the
>actual conflict.

Hmmmmmm i know a few US citizens of Japanese origin who would seriously
question this assumption.

>The diffuse nature of the threat makes comparisons to WWII
>difficult, though.
>On the political/cultural front:
>The irony of calling on god - the nearly universal reaction of America's
>political leaders - was completely lost on the media. NONE of the talking
>heads on the tube noted it. Oh well . . .
>The root problem is not US foreign policy, as some here have suggested.

Indeed this is true US foreign policy is THE root cause ( personally am not
there is ONE root cause ). IMHO though it is certainly one of the main

>It's that there is a widely distributed culture of fanaticism in the Islamic
>world. It focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it certainly has
>other objects, as well. Consider that the savagery of the Taliban has
>basically nothing to do with the on-going crisis in the Levant. Examples
>can be found from Algeria to Indonesia that have nothing to do with
>Palestinian nationalism. That culture of fanaticism has secured the "sacred
>high ground" throughout the Islamic world.

Here i have to agree whole heartedly with Greg, yes Islam is intolerant,
and some parts of it are fanatical. But lets not forget Christianity was
once like this
a some sections of it still are.

>As a result, there is no secure
>middle ground in politics or culture in the Islamic world. This is because
>Islamism is truly totalitarian, or "culturally hegemonistic," to borrow a
>phrase form Marxist rhetoric, i.e. it makes claim to relevance to and
>dominance over every aspect of life.

>Contrary to the claims of
>Arab-Americans and others today, and in the days that follow, that the
>9/11/01 attacks don't represent "true Islam", in fact they do.

hmmmm really think you should have had a "IMHO" attached to this, since as
far as i am aware the Koran does not really endorse in it's many of the
acts committed
in it's name.

>represent precisely the aspects of Islam that made it the most successfully
>viral meme in human history.
Think it's important to remember that all Religions are viral meme's. But
some have been
considerably softened over the years by their population base. ( I'll
expand on this issue below )

>And herein lies the ultimate, gut-wrenching irony and threat: Our political
>and cultural leaders cannot condemn this root cause of the problem. On the
>one hand, it would likely be ineffective. Condemnation of Islamism would be
>interpreted by Moslems all over the world as the simple rhetoric of
>inter-religious bigotry and ompetition.

Of course how would you react if a Muslim dominated world told you to your
face that
a large portion of your culture was inherently flawed

>In other words, condemning Islam
>for what it is would be heard by Moslems as the same kind of rhetoric that
>has fueled inter-religious wars throughout history, no different than the
>kind of pronouncements made by leaders on both sides of the European
>religious wars of the Reformation.
>On the other hand, the modern dogma of cultural relativism makes any kind of
>public judgment of one culture by another impossible. Any condemnation of
>Islam for the fertilizer of fanaticism that it is would be interpreted by
>the shapers of our own culture as chauvinism.

There are various historic reason for this, not least the fact that so
called "inferior cultures"
have in the past been hugely exploited and oppressed. The aftermath leaving
the world with many of
the enormous and varied problems seen in Africa, South America, and many
other parts of the
developing world.

>Thus, our public discourse is
>condemned to a fundamental impotence: We cannot as a civilization even TALK
>about the root cause of the problem.
Are you sure you want to find solutions rather than merely be allowed to
condemn, here Greg.

>I wish I could offer a solution . . .
Ok now here i may be able to make some suggestions, which i'd like ppl to
examine and expand or
comment on.
In order to fully make my point i need to delve into my own rather unusual

I was born in 1965 in Halifax a small town in Yorkshire in the North of
England, approximately
three weeks later my mother committed suicide.
( most likely a cause of post natal depression little understood in those
days )
I was taken into local authority care and placed with a local foster family.
With whom i lived out a completely normal childhood, having been made an
and completely normal member of their family.
The only element of this situation that to a casual observer of my family
would have seemed
strange. Is the fact that i am black my birth parents came from the West
Indies, thats the
Caribbean for all you colonials :)
My foster parents were ( now sadly both deceased ) ordinary working classed
white Yorkshire folk,
who i can only describe as working classed, common sense, rationalists, "a
spade is a spade" type folk.
No pun intended.
For the largely American list members, if you have seen "Last of the summer
wine" then that is
pretty much exactly cultural matrix i grew up in. My Dad wore flat caps and
often said "eyh by gumb"
whilst my Mom wore pinafores and often went to bed in rollers :) I kid you not.
So as am sure you can imagine i grew up within a primarily Yorkshire
cultural matrix. As a child
i had few contacts who shared my ethnicity. Despite being the only black
kid in my junior
school and one of only six black kids in high school, i suffered almost no
racial problems at all throughout
my entire childhood.( many find this surprising )
As a result of this at 36 am still quite happy to think of myself as a
Yorkshire lad, first and foremost.
Not a person of colour, not a black guy, or a West Indian. This is not to
say i don't consider myself black,
of course am black, but to me my ethnicity is a secondary element of who i
am, almost incidental.

Sorry about the length of this but it's essential for you to get an
accurate picture of my cultural background,
i am almost done.

As a got older left school and attended sixth form college, i made more
friends who shared my ethnic
background. And have been dismayed to find in many cases a willingness in
many of my friends to interpret the
smallest slight, and any form of rejection, as racially motivated.
Now i wrestled for a long time with just what was the root cause of this

Had i been made insensitive to racial slights by my background, apparently
not. Since i do on occasions detect
pretty obvious hostility from some ppl, that has a particular interpersonal
flavour all it's own, that i interpret as racist.

Was i more willing than my friends to extend the benefit of the doubt to
strangers, in circumstances that could
that could easily be misinterpreted. Almost certainly.
I also take the attitude that minor acts of bigotry that are not direct and
obvious do me little harm, and allow me to retain my
mental and spiritual energies for more important tasks.

Were many of my friends sensitive almost hyper-sensitive in some cases to
any kind of slight or rejection, and often
ready to assume someone was racist on extremely tenuous evidence. sadly i
have to say yes.

Once I'd put these threads together with some observations of the group
dynamic that developed when
in a larger black group 6-7+. I came to some surprising conclusions. I
realized that it was the
different cultural matrix that me and my friends had grown up in that made
that difference in perspective.
I did not expect racism from strangers because 1. i had not been raised to
expect it. 2. because i had,
had little past experience of it.

Now am pretty sure that the process of socialization experienced by many
Muslim kids from
poor and deeply religious backgrounds is similar yet more extreme, to that
experienced by many
of my friends. Young Muslim kids in some communities are raised to expect
American abuse, as
such the slightest mistake of presentation or policy causes a far more
extreme reaction than
reasonable. Christianity was for want of a better term "tamed" we need a
non-confrontational strategy
to do the same thing with Islam.

Perhaps this is the area that could be addressed and where serious useful
changes could be made.
This kind of approach would perhaps have a long time scale since it's main
targets would essentially
be the next generation of bombers. But maybe not after all, how many times
could a Muslim father
leave his home to cause mayhem with the disapproving looks of his children
to comfort him.
What ways can be found to essentially indoctrinate Muslim kids " most
likely at risk" in broad minded,
liberal tolerance. ( maybe even Extropian values )
Of course am not advocating overt indoctrination, this would be seen as
threatening, am advocating
something much more subtle than that. :)

We probably all remember Gregs post about the young Indian boys future
reading habits
and the broad response it brought. It seemed almost everyone wanted to help
make the kids
literary experiences rich and positive. Maybe we can put our heads together
and come up
with suggestions that could have a real impact. After all what could be a
greater Extropian
project than the creation of an Extropian generation.


>Greg Burch
>Vice-President, Extropy Institute

                                Guru Zeb,
                           Manchester, 1989

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