How to create a religious terrorist

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Mitchell Brown, for The Muleskinner
When I heard about the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens during an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised, not by his death, but rather by the reason for it.
The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya was a by-product of outrage over the short video “The Innocence of Muslims.”
The 13-minute video portrays Muhammad, the central figure of the Islamic religion, in a derogatory light.
Christopher Stevens had nothing to do with the making of the video, which I found to be in bad taste, but bad taste shouldn’t be a valid reason to attack a nation’s embassy and take a life.
Why would an embassy be attacked because of the content of one online video?
In psychology, such behavior is called misdirected aggression.
In the mind of a radical Islamic fundamentalist, the video becomes an example of Western intrusion and desecration of Islam. That’s still not a justification for attacking an embassy.
An explanation is not always a justification. The recent wave of anti-Western rage in the Middle East over “The Innocence of Muslims” could easily feed the flames of Islamophobia.
But these flares-ups of anti-Western rage are not indicative of Islam as a whole.
That’s a sentiment that has been expressed so often it’s become a cliché, but it’s true.
A belief in Islam doesn’t automatically turn someone into a terrorist anymore than a belief in Christianity would automatically turn someone into Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church.
To have a better understanding of how and why Islamic fundamentalism is spread, one should look at other factors within the countries it exists in.
Other factors include a nation’s economic infrastructure, the geopolitical/global dynamic affecting the nation and that country’s general history.
For example, the 1979 Iranian revolution was just as much about a re-assertion of Persian nationalism as it was about Islam.
The lack of stable infrastructure in Afghanistan after the Soviet/Afghan war of the 1980s is one reason why the Taliban was able to rise to power in the region.
Charlie Wilson, the late U.S. congressman, was not able to drum up the same amount of support and funding for building roads, schools and hospitals in Afghanistan as he was for weaponry for the Mujahideen during their Jihad against the invading Soviet forces.
The building of a solid infrastructure could have stifled the growth of religious extremism.
Economic despair is often the perfect incubator for extremist movements. It’s even happened in America.
From 1981-1983, a recession hit the U.S. Coincidentally, during that time, white supremacist movements starting sprouting up at an increased rate.
The movements included the activities of people like Tom Metzger of W.A.R.(White Aryan Resistance) and Robert Jay Matthews of the Order, a group that orchestrated a series of bank robberies in the pacific North West, with the aim of using the stolen money as a war chest for the white power movement.
Desperate people in desperate situations can become susceptible to extremist ideologies.
When I was first asked about the explosive global response to “The Innocence of Muslims,” I would often say ‘I don’t know what to think;’ I was still compiling information and had yet to reach a conclusion.
On one hand, I’m a proponent of free speech and what is known as the free-market of ideas, which protects someone’s right to make fun of any religion or religious figure.
On the other hand, I am able to see how the video stirred up a hornet’s nest. I’m sure the maker of the video realized that, too.
Insulting and offending Muslims seems to have been the goal.
Because I’ve fully embraced the free-market of ideas, I find rioting in the streets over such an insult to be ludicrous.
The First Amendment even protects language and images that are “culturally insensitive.”
I understand getting offended over one’s beliefs being insulted, but violence is never justifiable.