Radicalisation, a weasel word that lets young jihadists off the hook

Apr 5, 2016 by

People cannot just ‘fall’ into terrorism; they have to jump.

Ken MacIntosh –

The Guardian (31 March 2016) featured a story headlined Brighton Boys: How four friends fell into Jihad. The four friends in question all ‘fell’ into the Islamic State. How does one ‘fall’? The answer is: unintentionally. If you fall into a swimming-pool it is because you were not looking where you were going. If you enter the pool intentionally, then you dive, leap or jump into it. I cannot recall seeing a headline referring to an individual ‘leaping’ at the chance to join so-called Islamic State (Isis). Again and again, we see a subtle use of language that suggests passivity.

The Guardian article tells us that, “They [the four Brighton Jihadists] started out writing plays, making music, playing football and dreaming of bright futures. Then everything fell apart”. What falls apart? Badly made birthday cake falls apart. Dry sandcastles fall apart. Things Fall Apart, the great novel by Chinua Achebe, describes a man’s relentless loss of control over his own destiny. And, apparently, like a spider’s web in a rain-storm, ‘everything fell apart’ for our young jihadists. Again, the implicit message being, these ‘boys’ were tossed about helplessly upon a dismal breeze. They were not, apparently, in possession of agency.

When an Observer opinion piece asks, “How do we combat the radicalisation of young Muslims?” concepts such as responsibility and guilt are again muddied. We are left with an image of empty vessels waiting to receive evil. There is no doubt that an individual’s circumstances play a large part in contributing towards whether they will go on to do bad things. Give a bad person an outlet to do bad things and they will do bad things. But that badness has to be there to start with. Heinrich Himmler would quite possibly never have harmed anyone had the Nazi party not come into existence. But who would now throw the memory of Himmler that bone?

Source: MercatorNet: Radicalisation, a weasel word that lets young jihadists off the hook

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