"Do you want to know how to eliminate terrorism?"
November 26, 2001 4:18 PM   Subscribe

"Do you want to know how to eliminate terrorism?" Hint: love is all you need.
posted by xowie (20 comments total)
very interesting.

I remember reading years ago a book (I wish I could remember the title) about religion in the US in the 1800s. it mentioned that young men are a problem for every society, and that with the industrial revolution, young men moved from their father's farms to the city to seek employment in the mills and factories. this caused problems--drunkeness, rowdiness, and other uncontrollable behavior--because these young men were no longer under parental control.

the mayors of many of these towns invited travelling evangelists to visit their cities, in the hopes they would put the fear of God into these young men, and apparently they thought it had an effect, because these evangelists were invited to visit again and again. it was, I believe, the upstate NY region (maybe further) and it was called "the burnt-over region" or something to that effect, because these evangelists had swept over it so many times.

anyway, I guess the tie with this article is that young men, uncontrolled, are traditionally a dangerous element in any society, and one effective solution is to give them a stake in the status quo.
posted by rebeccablood at 5:07 PM on November 26, 2001

I guess the tie with this article is that young men, uncontrolled, are traditionally a dangerous element in any society

I certainly hope that you meant to qualify this statement as "some young men."

The fact that this approach has made no impact upon bin Laden himself indicates the limited effectiveness of the strategy.
posted by rushmc at 5:20 PM on November 26, 2001

Demobilization has been recognized as a serious problem that needs addressing in post-conflict zones. In the past demobilized soldiers have created problems for many societies, even one you may have heard of. With that experience too close for comfort, the US solved what could have been an even larger problem in 1944 with the GI Bill.

The applicability here is that terror operations such as suicide bombings or hijackings necessarily require youngish men who live supported by the terror network over a period of perhaps years. If they're no longer propped up -- paid -- they have to get jobs and settle down. (Conversely, one of the problems in the Palestinian terroritories is that the intifada shuts down the economy, leaving a whole class of young men at loose ends and despairing economically.) Some of the al Qaeda support cells -- for instance, the one recently cracked in Spain -- seem to involve married, "normal" men living and working within the bounds of lawful society over a long period. But even these people are supported in part by the network, because much of their business is transferring goods and services around. Those individuals were a limited threat in the first place. And to asnwer Rush, I think I see bin Laden himself in this role; he doesn't seem to have been as big a frontline hero as he's claimed. Like Blofeld, when you take down his corporate trappings, he's probably a bit of a figure of ridicule.
posted by dhartung at 5:30 PM on November 26, 2001

rushmc: (sorry--codeine)

I should have said large numbers of uncontrolled young men.

I can't make sense of your second sentence. are you of the opinion that bin laden is trying to reduce terrorism in the world?

essentially this group is difficult to control unless they have a stake in the status quo; the flip side of this is that they are ripe for the picking if you have a compelling cause (the unions, islamism, WTO) or just a movement (punk rock is a prime example).

same thing that makes them perfect for military service--not too experienced, easily led, and lots and lots of hormonal energy that will be focused on *something*.

to sum up, when there's work for the boys they get rowdy; when there's not, they may become dangerous.
posted by rebeccablood at 5:33 PM on November 26, 2001

I agree with what you say. I simply rebel against a generalized demonization of young men per se simply on the basis of their youth and their maleness.

My point about bin Laden is that he represents a demographic--older, married, with children--that is not addressed by the premise of this approach. Not all terrorists can be tamed with domestication.
posted by rushmc at 6:25 PM on November 26, 2001

Large numbers of uncontrolled young men? Sounds like a dream I frequently have.
posted by verdezza at 6:33 PM on November 26, 2001

rushmc: If you've ever lived in an all-freshmen male college dorm, you'd know that the bit about large numbers of young, uncontrolled men is absolutely on target. Think "Lord of the Flies" at 18-20.
posted by raysmj at 6:50 PM on November 26, 2001

bin laden is not a hands-on terrorist; he's a financier.
posted by rebeccablood at 7:27 PM on November 26, 2001

I like the idea. Talk about getting a lot of bangs for your buck...
posted by darren at 7:56 PM on November 26, 2001

thank you for the link to the Veterans March of 1932.
posted by redhead at 8:47 PM on November 26, 2001

The Veteran's Bonus March link was pretty interesting, but I couldn't find any other references detailing the killing of 100's of American citizens in the Everglades by General Patton. Other accounts seem to indicate only four or five people were killed in Washington DC itself. This link provides another account, without the mass slaughter.
posted by obedo at 9:25 PM on November 26, 2001

bin laden is not a hands-on terrorist; he's a financier.

Yes and no. Certainly he is primarily a financier, but he has enough combat experience to get his hands dirty as well. Not all terrorists are kamikaze. But I'll concede your point that those who are are far more likely to fit into the stereotypical "angry young man" category--I just don't think it's inevitable that they will.
posted by rushmc at 9:29 PM on November 26, 2001

dhartung, the '32 March page you pointed to says "In all it is reported that some 1,600 people, mostly woman and children were killed in the daylong struggle" (including a bystanding senator) and then goes on to describe transporting 2,400 more people (the veterans, their wives and children) by cattlecar to the Florida everglades where they were murdered by machineguns in groups of 50!

Holy Fuck!

I couldn't believe this when I read it, and every other page I could find on the topic says two veterans (and one bystanding baby) were killed that day. Some suggest that there were probably more deaths after the fact, since many people were badly injured, but that is a totally different story ...

I can't help but think I would have heard of this before if 4,000 people were deliberatly and methodically murdered by the army, but I gotta wonder: do you believe that? Or did you just search+link without actually reading that particular page? (Not that there is anything wrong with that - I've done it before ...)
posted by sylloge at 9:40 PM on November 26, 2001

Whoa. That'll teach me to skim and link .... agreed, it's egregiously inaccurate, though (alas) highly googular.

This account is closer to what I remember from the history books. Note the personal involvement of MacArthur and Eisenhower. It remained the largest civil unrest in Washington, DC until the 1968 riot sparked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King -- which was my point. FBI documents on the Bonus March killings, including a copious 79-page report to the President.
posted by dhartung at 10:19 PM on November 26, 2001

As the Atlantic piece notes, this tactic was tried to some extent in rehabilitating convicted paramilitaries in Northern Ireland: again, these were usually young men from the council estates, raised in an ideological pressure-cooker and given "something to do" by the local mobs in the UK's worst unemployment blackspot. (dhartung: we didn't get the GI Bill, but we got an election and a Labour government in 1945 and the National Health Service soon after. And jobs for the demobbed men, rebuilding the bloody country. So yes, empowering the returning masses.)
posted by holgate at 4:57 AM on November 27, 2001

to sum up, when there's work for the boys they get rowdy; when there's not, they may become dangerous

It's interesting that this point should be made just when violent crime by females has just been shown to be on the increase, at least in the UK (although some of the increase in prison populations is apparently due to sexist sentencing).

I think part of the problem with "young men" is hormonal, and a greater part of it is the dominant, violent roles that men have been traditionally conditioned into. As this social conditioning changes to be more egalitarian, I think we can expect more than just the traditional employment models to change. I just hope it doesn't get worse all round.

Rushmc's point that it's not all young men is also well made.
posted by walrus at 5:30 AM on November 27, 2001

I'm really, really not trying to hijack this thread, nor to be trolling. This is a serious inquiry:

1. How do you translate this approach for non-straight young men? The article is basically advocating marriage as a curative, because it strengthens the bonds to the community and "gives them a stake in the status quo." What do you do to make such a policy so that it is not exclusionary?

2. I commend the linked article for being pretty balanced. It did not take the approach of "marriage is the cure to everything," nor was it at all a religious theme. It was a practical approach, focusing on the means and results, and not including unnecessary ideology. But can't we take the message a bit further, and ask, "How do we create this sense of community, of ownership and stake-holding, without having marriage as the centerpiece?" In other words, marriage is a fine thing, but shouldn't be the centerpiece of the strategy. Besides the non-straight issue, there may be other reasons why marriage will not be an attractive option for many men and women. So my question is, what other means do we have for fostering community?
posted by yesster at 7:20 AM on November 27, 2001

good question yesster.
heterosexual monogamy has some advantages for the participants, but also disadvantages. whether it has advantages for a society, i don't know.
posted by asok at 7:47 AM on November 27, 2001

I would say it has considerably more advantages for society than for individuals.
posted by rushmc at 12:34 PM on November 27, 2001

and with this thread the number of users becomes less than the number of threads, meaning each user, effectively, can have their own thread.

this one is mine, so getcher own.
posted by fishfucker at 1:02 PM on December 6, 2001

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