Archive for April, 2013


April 24, 2013

Why recent Boston bombing should sound an alarm on American Radicalization 

The word “radicalize” has been used quite a bit since the ethnic Chechen-American Muslim brothers from Boston, hit the front page a week ago.

In the mad dash to answer the “why” question…the suspicion today is that somehow the young men became “radicalized” – perhaps even “self radicalized” – and then pumped themselves up to the point where they decided to do something really stupid and publically horrendous…and mean…to prove whatever point they were trying to make.  From silly kids…to angry teenaged young men…to “radicalized”…to “hair-on-fire-get-the-fuck-out-of-my-way-I’m-going-in” full blown terrorists.

To establish a plausible cause for the brother’s actions — those tasked with coming up with an explanation on how the impossible could possibly have happened — have posited a host of possibilities ranging from: it’s in those people’s DNA for god’s sake…they were fed up being shit on because they were Muslim…the oldest one was angry because he lost in the first round at the National Golden Gloves West Coast Championship boxing event — and the younger one quit the wrestling team and was getting bad grades in college…or, because both just hated the hell out of being called “ethnic Chechens” instead of just plain Chechens (you never hear people being called “ethnic Irish”, for instance – we wouldn’t put up with it).

And of course far more diabolical theories have been suggested: that maybe they were just pawns of the FBI/CIA who got tangled up in a plot gone bad to frighten Americans into supporting the expansion of all the Homeland surveillance and tracking and police State stuff they’re doing…or maybe that they were deep home grown mole like “sleeper guys”, who hate freedom and have a thing about marathons and Boston accents.

More likely, maybe they did it because they felt profoundly marginalized and discounted and reviled in a country where ethnicity carries consequence – and being Muslim these days translates into being pretty universally hated — and exclusion beyond your own people.

And, then again, maybe they just got overwhelmed by the thoughts of how ‘their people’ back in their ethnic homeland of Chechnya, were manipulated and set up to do the dirty work our government wanted to have done to establish control and influence in an area – and that all the buddy-buddy talk they were given by CIA operatives about how great they were for helping out…finely gave way to the realization that these guys genuinely didn’t give a shit about them – and that they were just being used. Like common Taliban.

That kind of stuff finally kind of gets to you, and the anger builds up to a point where it just can’t be contained anymore.  I can understand all that.

In fact, most middle class and below people in the US…and marginally and un-employed people (especially those who have been dropped from the unemployment rolls because they gave up trying)…and people who can’t get medical coverage because they have burnt up their unemployment benefits and can’t qualify for help – all get that…and can relate.  And those feelings don’t improve when monthly checks are reduced by 10% – and coverage periods are cut in half…which they just were.

Certainly the thought of having Social Security or Medicare screwed with, while the upper brackets skate free – radicalizes the hell out of people over the age of 55 who are depending on these entitlement items to get them to the finish line.

People are radicalized when they watch savings disappear in a stock market that has been manipulated and trashed, making the savings and retirement funds they believed were safe and secure – worthless — because what looked real was in reality a complete air ball.

People feel powerless, unheard, unprotected and vulnerable when companies like BP take hugely inappropriate risks deep water drilling in the gulf…or when the Japanese Government allows patently unsafe nuclear plants to be built in immediate proximity with a known and volatile earthquake fault line where consequence could contaminate the entire Pacific Ocean.

People become angry – when they discover that studies used to justify “fracking” have been rigged to cover over the real and massive potential risks to public health in contaminated water supplies.  Or when Excel spreadsheet columns — used to substantiate heart breaking destructive strategic economic austerity directions — primarily affecting the poor – are deliberately hidden from view and kept out of the final reports that far reaching decisions, made by duplicitous legislators – were made upon.

The bile of radicalism is almost impossible for people to choke down when people watch their country being destroyed by a self serving few who can…and will…and do — corrupt laws and rules created to preserve safety and security for all – to clear the way to get what they can before the whole house or cards tumbles.

And, unless I’m losing my ability to discern where folks are in the world these days…people are close to despair and frustration and encroaching rage when the people they elect to represent them – sell them down the corporate highway – and then watch them do nothing to stop the insanity that comes when a government has been bought up by special interests at the expense of the vast majority of the people.

People are getting exhausted waiting for right reason to reappear, and for just cause to once again lead the day.  They are furious when they can’t even get a gun purchasing background check law passed, for God’s sake.  When they can’t stop a highly risky tar sands oil pipeline from being jammed down their throats.  When they can’t get equitable taxes where rich and corporations pay their fair share — to even be considered by an administration who promised to fight the good fight for fairness and equitable distribution of pain. When they can’t stop our country from pursuing a policy of stone cold military adventurism and a foreign policy that institutionalizes endless warfare.

People get frustrated beyond belief when they feel completely powerless and without voice and believe that nobody cares and that nobody is hearing them.  They lose trust and they stop believing…and then frustration and fear turn into anger.

They get paranoid and worried when they watch encroaching domestic spying and surveillance and privacy invasion…and when they can’t stop the perversion of illegal search and seizure laws…and when they can’t get habeas corpus replaced as a cornerstone of our judicial system.  They are disgusted when they can’t get anybody to prosecute the ‘too big people’ who blatantly break laws and who have destroyed the country. They are appalled when they are powerless to influence or stop a bought up Supreme Court from defiling the very hard-core principles of law that keep the rich from eating the poor…and when they can’t get their elected president to do what he said he’d do to right wrongs – and to roll back the excessive creepiness that has contaminated and defiled those things we as a country were once so proud of.

Many people in America believe that we are rapidly reaching a “tipping point” space where the potential to become “radicalized” is real and palpable.

If the Boston bombing is a useful example of anything …it may well be that people can radicalize pretty quickly.  The reality is that we have way too many things going on in this country that piss people off.

When you boil it all down, radicalization is created by abuse and dishonesty and un-fairness and lack of concern for people — and by the creation of environments where promises are almost never kept…and where things almost only get worse — and where hope seems increasingly out of reach.

Folks whose actions impact the lives of people who are stressed to the breaking point — need to be real careful here. And yes I’m talking about sequestration…and devastating cuts in social services and safety nets.