‘Future Awlakis should have their day in court, however much we may have to grit our teeth, because the plain text of two constitutional amendments requires it, and because it might whisper to quite a large watching audience that America takes its ideals seriously, and politely expects its fortunate citizens to do the same.’
‘On Friday, al-Awlaki was killed in the mountains of Yemen in what local officials said they believed was an American airstrike. The officials said pilotless drones had been seen circling the area in recent days.
According to American officials, the 40-year-old al-Awlaki had over the years moved from being an influential mouthpiece for al-Qaida’s ideology of holy war against the United States to become an operational figure, helping recruit militants for al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen, seen as the most dangerous direct threat to America.’
Somewhat established current thinking as I’ve heard it: A relatively smaller percentage of Muslim men, often with Western experience (college, work, study abroad, immigration), usually in transitional periods in their lives (adolescence, joblessness, spiritual crisis, isolation and displacement, bereavement, mentally unstable) withdraw from the world, and usually their mosques, and become committed to some form of Al-Qaeda like ideology. They may do this in small groups or alone. They may watch videos of drone strikes, or Bosnia, or Al-Qaeda training and recruitment, or someone like Al-Awlaki, or may find a web site, and then become committed over a period of weeks or months to some kind of planning and action. I suspect a sense of injustice is a major driver, but I don’t claim to know what justice is, only that more injustice results from their usually desperate actions.
Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Addition: Of course, the NY Times and NPR in their post 9/11 coverage were looking for a “moderate” Muslim, not a radical Muslim in their coverage of Al-Awlaki as a bridge between the Muslim and American worlds. I doubt such outlets will highlight their error. I also doubt such outlets would want to live under an Islamic theocracy, nor an autocratic regime as is so often found in the Muslim world as Islam has not had anything like an Enlightenment from the inside out (and many in the Muslim world are deeply resentful at being at the mercy of so many Western influences). I suspect such folks would rather just pursue their ideals until the public square came to be dominated by the “secular republic” ideal which seeks to keep religion out of that square.
This could be reasonable if many such folks recognized the threats posed to liberty by liberal groups and the consequences of their own ideals in action, here and especially in Europe, whose mistakes many seem all too willing to import (including real fascism, weaker economies that can’t handle Muslim immigration as does our stronger economy). This is to say nothing of the obvious and more immediate danger that huddling another Al-Awlaki type under the banner of diversity, tolerance and multi-culturalism could pose to national security.
They made a mistake, but such foolish earnestness makes stronger and more fruitful attempts at mutual understanding harder to achieve, if such are your aims.