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Terrorists Are Not Uneducated

November 18, 2009

There’s a group on my campus collecting money to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which may be an admirable endeavor, but they’re advertising their fund raising with the following slogan: “Because educated people don’t become terrorists.”

This is flat-out wrong. Despite common stereotypes, poverty and lack of education are not good predictors for suicide terrorism. In fact, for suicide terrorists with some sort of religious affiliation, you’re more likely to be a suicide terrorist if you have some post-secondary education.  Only a small percentage of suicide terrorists have less than a high school education. (For this data see Robert Pape’s Dying to Win.)

However, portraying terrorists as uneducated dupes gives “us” a sense of superiority over them—which goes a long way toward eliciting support when “we” want to bomb the shit out of these dumb, backward peoples who are practically monkeys.

In addition, portraying them as uneducated dupes permits us to ignore what they say. The reasons they give us for their actions and the demands they make (“stop occupying our country/region”) can be ignored, because it’s just part of the ranting of dummies who don’t really know what they’re saying. We can stand firm in knowing that we’re right to condemn them, and we need not critically reflect on whether or not we’ve contributed to the conditions that make them hate us. We know why they’re doing what they’re doing better than they do—as a result we can feel justified in taking a paternalist attitude toward them.

This shit pisses me off.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2009 1:33 pm

    Yea that is infuriating, but at least you don’t have groups with “Islam is the Devil” shirts parading around your campus. Every time I see them I want to pour a bucket of water on their heads and tell them to cool off.

  2. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    November 18, 2009 5:27 pm

    I think I would lose my crap, yell at someone, and get fired if I saw that …

  3. November 25, 2009 11:57 am

    Hear hear! Very excellent points.

  4. November 26, 2009 11:42 am

    I think you’re right. Although strictly thinking Pape (if I recall correctly) made a point that it was only suicide terrorists that he studied and he couldn’t be drawn on whether the same applied to non-suicide terrorists.

  5. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    November 28, 2009 9:55 am

    Yes, that’s rights. Thanks for adding the qualification!

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