Occasionally the Sunday shows yield a gem of insight. ABC's This Week had one of those moments yesterday, during a discussion of ISIS. Here's the transcript:
RADDATZ: You went to Pakistan.
How did this happen to you?
And then you recruited others.
What was it about you that was willing to go along with this?
SHAIKH: I think it's the same case for many of these individuals, identity crises. You don't know. You're trying to navigate the space in the West, how Muslim am I supposed to be and how much does -- how Western am I supposed to be and how much does that conflict and contradict with one another.
And you're going to go towards those who welcome you with open arms. That's really what it comes down to.
When you're dealing with angry, young disenfranchised -- or at least feel that they're disenfranchised. They may not even be discriminated against. Like I wasn't discriminated against. But they'll feel that my people are under attack. And you have vicarious suffering. You start to feel that their suffering is my suffering.
There's a lot of anger in this country. Setting the Islamophobic right wing aside for a minute, many young people feel disconnected and disenfranchised, as though their priorities mean nothing. They can't find decent jobs, they're buried in college debt, they have a more global outlook and don't necessarily fall into lockstep with the hawks.
These young people seem to have what psychologists call a very strong "need for cognitive closure," a disposition that leads to an overwhelming desire for certainty, order, and structure in one's life to relieve the sensation of gnawing—often existential—doubt and uncertainty. According to Kruglanski, this need is something everyone can experience from time to time. We all sometimes get stressed out by uncertainty, and want answers. We all feel that way in moments, in particular situations, but what Kruglanski shows is that some of us feel that way more strongly, or maybe even all the time. And if you go through the world needing closure, it predisposes you to seek out the ideologies and belief systems that most provide it.
That's certainly part, but not all of it.
Contented people do not leave their country and become radical revolutionaries. That happens when discontent has boiled to a point where they see no option in shades of gray. It is all black and white.
During the Ferguson protests, ISIS was aggressively using social media to recruit people.
The Islamic State and other jihadist movements are using the events outside St. Louis as propaganda against the West. One argument they’ve been making for years is that racism and discrimination are rampant in some parts of the West, and they’re hoping the Ferguson riots could help recruit black Americans. “In Islam there is no racism, and we think black people will wake up and follow the example of Malcolm X and others who understood that this way is the only way to justice,” said Abu Mansour, who lives in Germany and is also a follower of the Islamic State.
Now think about the last four years and the way Republicans have stalled progress to serve their oligarchs. The more they squeeze people in this country, the more chance they have to actually radicalize and endanger all of us.
Better we clean our own house and start taking care of business than waving our arms around and threatening to bomb countries to eradicate ISIS. Until we can work out our own problems, we'll just create more radicals here and abroad with aggressive military action.