Sunday, July 17, 2005

Tiger and Lance Do Europe, Among Other Important Things

Just got back from a weekend road trip up US 101 visiting relatives in Morro Bay, CA. Great to see them as it is a rare occasion, living on opposite sides of the country. Except for the traffic hell-hole that is Santa Barbara, the trip up (and down) the coast is a treat. Beautiful sites of the Pacific and the mountainous California coast. And, I have mastered the L.A. freeway system at 80 mph.

Well it looks like we have more American athletic dominance on the European continent. Tiger, winning his 10th major overall, captured his second Open Championship (second win at St. Andrews, incidentally, in 2000) by five strokes, quelling hopes (or fears?) for a final round charge by Monty - Scotsman and Open gallery favourite, Colin Montgomerie.

Lance Armstrong gets one step closer to winning his seventh Tour de France, extending his overall lead by 2:46, after placing seventh in the 15th stage of the epic bike race.

Haven't had a chance to track too much news this weekend. Looks like Iraq is blowing up again, literally and figuratively. Might be an emboldened response to the London bombings? John Burns is on the beat.

B.D. has a pretty good round-up from the Sunday NYT. As you'll read, the French are being French. And, we may have an answer to the mysterious appeal of radical Islam. B.D. quotes this NYT Week in Review piece:

At least one of the young men from Leeds was from an affluent family, and none were particularly poor or unhappy, according to press reports. At least two had become devout. At least two had traveled to Pakistan. At least some of their parents clearly opposed such violence. A breakthrough for the police came when the mother of one, fearing her son was a victim of the bombings, informed police he was missing.

Jessica Stern, a lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the author of "Terror in the Name of God," spent part of the spring in the Netherlands investigating the attitudes of young Muslims there. She said she feared that for some of them, violent Islamism had become a fad.

For some, she said, "To be angry and rebellious these days is to be angry, rebellious and Islamist, and, unfortunately, to be violent." In a previous era, she observed, they might have embraced Marxism. She said that while these young people experienced some prejudice and economic hardship, their grievances were reinforced by "a feeling of vicarious humiliation" of Muslims elsewhere. The radicalism of some appeared driven less by contact with a charismatic cleric than by what they found for themselves on the Internet.

"They self-recruit, self-radicalize, and they go and find their own imam," Ms. Stern said. "So the picture that we have, that all we have to do is watch those fiery imams, or go into the mosques - well, those days are over."

A fad?!? This is kinda scary considering how it is sooo cool now at college to wear a Che Guevera t-shirt and fight for "social justice." I hope when my kids go off to college in 2030-whatever, it isn't fashionable to wear an Al-Zarqawi or Arafat t-shirt. But look at the picture of the London bombers before they went off and killed 50+ people. I just spent a semester in Barcelona studying and did a lot of European traveling. The bombers look like any other youthful, wide-eyed college kid heading to out explore some corner of Europe. But, no; these guys aren't studying abroad. These guys are heading to battle.

This NYT July 16 story touches on some themes B.D. mentions, as well. Although B.D. wants to shrug off what seems to be the motivating factor for these young guys joining the jihad:

Reports the NYT:

LEEDS, England, July 15 - At Beeston's Cross Flats Park, in the center of this now embattled town, Sanjay Dutt and his friends grappled Friday with why their friend Kakey, better known to the world as Shehzad Tanweer, had decided to become a suicide bomber.

"He was sick of it all, all the injustice and the way the world is going about it," Mr. Dutt, 22, said. "Why, for example, don't they ever take a moment of silence for all the Iraqi kids who die?"

"It's a double standard, that's why," answered a friend, who called himself Shahroukh, also 22, wearing a baseball cap and basketball jersey, sitting nearby. "I don't approve of what he did, but I understand it. You get driven to something like this, it doesn't just happen."

To the boys from Cross Flats Park, Mr. Tanweer, 22, who blew himself up on a subway train in London last week, was devout, thoughtful and generous. If they understood his actions, it was because they lived in Mr. Tanweer's world, too.

They did not agree with what Mr. Tanweer had done, but made clear they shared the same sense of otherness, the same sense of siege, the same sense that their community, and Muslims in general, were in their view helpless before the whims of greater powers. Ultimately, they understood his anger.

B.D. says, big deal?!:

There are those, even now, who seek to 'understand' their actions and who get airtime in the predictable places like the pages of the Guardian. This time is past. The call must be to ferret out such killers before they strike again. Too much is at stake.

I think this "grievance" issue is the heart of the problem for young, Westernized Muslims. They feel - for whatever their circumstances - there has been no justice for what they view have been repeated wrongs. Just re-read the quote above from the 22 year old friend of the one bomber. He "understands" - and probably feels - the same anger his buddy had, but isn't compelled to blow himself and everyone else up. So again, I go back to what I wrote a few days ago about a re-education of the Western world about the Western world. You talk to any foreign student at Penn State or anyother college in the U.S. or Europe about U.S. foreign policy past and present, America's history of slavery and racial segregation, etc., etc., and you'll get at least a similar response like you did from the kid in Leeds. Everything is America's fault. Nothing America does or has down is legitimate or good, in foreign students' eyes. The ironic thing is that, for how bad America is, it's still a great place to get that PhD.

An answer, a response, something is necessary to counter the various views or opinions that make the young Muslims in Leeds so angry. Because it seems like these views and grievances, which make them feel weak, inferior and full of injustice to Western power lead them to radical Islam, which gives them a feeling of justice, moral superiority and righteousness. Considering all that has been said, can we say that if these guys only knew better, or had a better understanding of whatever they viewed to be a grievance or source of anger, that they might not have been driven to radical Islam and, therefore, the cult of suicide bombing in the name of Allah? It is possible.

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