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    Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    Not About Medicine: Arnold Kling sees an analogy to terrorism in the story of the Blackfeet in the wild West, who were slaughtered for their acts of terrorism:

    1. The native Americans felt they were in a no-win situation. They saw fighting the white man as futile. However, they saw peace with the white man as being on terms that would make it impossible for native Americans to pursue their traditional way of life. For many of the Blackfeet, this is unacceptable. One character says, "the day will come when our people will decide that they would rather consort with the Napikwans than live in the ways our long-ago fathers thought appropriate. But I, Three Bears, will not see this day. I will die first."

    2. Moderate native American chiefs were viewed as weak and unmanly, particularly by younger men.

    3. Even though the native Americans viewed Owl's Child (the terrorist leader) as wicked and detrimental to their cause, they could not take the humiliating step of turning one of their blood brothers in to the white soldiers.

    4. The native Americans did not have the cultural and institutional foundation with which to cope with the crisis.

    ....It is possible that the culture of the world Muslim community, including its religious and secular institutions, simply is not yet equipped to confront the radicals in the way that Thomas Friedman and the rest of us might wish. A lack of social capital, or what James Bennett calls "civil society," means that the Muslim community's circuits are overloaded. Like the Native Americans living in Montana in 1870, Muslims are confronted with too much change happening too quickly.

    Here's another - more hopeful - analogy from the wild West. The Muslim community is not unlike those lawless towns in Westerns, where the thugs rule and the decent citizens cower in their wake. Until someone decides enough is enough and brings the thugs to justice. Granted, those scenarios play out in movies filmed long after the taming of the West, but those lawless places have their roots in real towns and places - and real men. There's no reason the same couldn't happen in the Muslim world. Maybe they just need some good Middle Eastern westerns.

    UPDATE: There are these kinds of heroes in the Middle East.

    posted by Sydney on 7/13/2005 08:20:00 AM 0 comments


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