Friday, January 16, 2015

Is ISIS Too Toxic To Countenance?

A conservative estimate holds that there are between 35 and 50 active serial killers in the US at any one time. They will kill 2 or 3 people and then stop for a while. If we assume about 100 serial killings per year and 316 million people in the US, that's .000003% of being killed by a serial killer.

The odds of being killed by a terrorist are estimated at 1 in 20 million (by what is likely to be the same very, very broad logic). That's .0000005%.

The good news, though, is that we know what terrorists look like, don't we?

We can't tell who the serial killers are. That's the problem.

On The Other Hand
The odds of you, an Omnivore reader, being killed by a serial killer aren't that of the prime serial killer targets. Most victims of serial killers are young women. Most Omnivore readers, so says the odds, are white males (The Omnivore's mother doesn't even reliably read TPO). So you're safer than some.

How about terrorists? Well, assuming we mean Islamic Terrorists, which is what the term means in our mind-space--unless you're one of the very, very few anti-terrorism researchers reading this ... or all tied up with the IRA or something ... tend to try to hit big targets. If you're in the mid-west, and it's for-real over-seas terror as the sponsor? You're probably safer than if you're in NYC.

So statistically? You're probably doing better than the Washington Post's 1:20 million odds.

Feel better?

What if you were one of the retired generals whose home address and personal information was just released by ISIS? That might make a bit of a difference, right?
This week, Pentagon officials began calling up retired generals to let them know that their home addresses, private e-mails and other personal information had appeared in a document that was publicized globally by a group claiming to support Islamic State.
George Friedman of Stratfor (private intelligence) writes on the coming clash between Muslim immigrants and the European nations:
Enough Muslims share that fervency to endanger the lives of those they despise, and this tendency toward violence cannot be tolerated by either their Western targets or by Muslims who refuse to subscribe to a jihadist ideology. And there is no way to distinguish those who might kill from those who won't. The Muslim community might be able to make this distinction, but a 25-year-old European or American policeman cannot. And the Muslims either can't or won't police themselves. Therefore, we are left in a state of war. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called this a war on radical Islam. If only they wore uniforms or bore distinctive birthmarks, then fighting only the radical Islamists would not be a problem. But Valls' distinctions notwithstanding, the world can either accept periodic attacks, or see the entire Muslim community as a potential threat until proven otherwise. These are terrible choices, but history is filled with them. Calling for a war on radical Islamists is like calling for war on the followers of Jean-Paul Sartre. Exactly what do they look like?
The theory that Europe, unable to distinguish radical Muslims from other ones, will start mass deportations begs the question: What was different about Charlie Hebdo than the ... car burning riots ... the fatwa on Salman Rushide ... the attacks on the Danish cartoonists? What's different about that than the Madrid bombings?

Why would the Charlie Hebdo attacks be a tipping point?

Maybe the active ingredient is ISIS*? Surveys show that 16% of French citizens have a positive opinion of ISIS--and that goes to 27% in the 18-24 age group. Apparently for the under 35 group, it's 1 in 7 for England.

ISIS is the poster-child for not just extremism but the most dramatic photogenic form of it they can create. They've recently released video of a child soldier assassinating to men described as "Russian Spies." Their soul-mates, Boko Haram are using young girls as suicide bombers. Anyone with a warm feeling towards ISIS--towards the modern strain of radical Islam that is impossible to caricature because it is already as extreme as it can figure out a way to be--these people are more globally dangerous than serial killers ever approach.

There are 4.7 million Muslims in France--demographically skewing young. What if instead of 35-50 active serial killers there were seven hundred and fifty two thousand.

What if Serial Killer HQ was sending them your doxx?

ISIS is a brand: it's a set of concepts around an idea. The basic product is a fundamentalist version of Islam--but the ISIS version of it is designed to sell. It does: it sells even to young women who it recruits with a romantic idea of real Muslim men, the end times, and adventure. That it can do this while turning children into assassins or being ideologically allied (at least in a sense) with the Boko Haram mass kidnappings and enslavings (ISIS runs its own sex slaves) speaks to its power.

ISIS may well be the catalyst that "activates" the populations that, until now, have simply been simmering. What if it's the ingredient that turns anger into action.

How long will we--the liberal western world--be willing to put up with that?

* NOTE: Charlie Hebdo was technically Al Queada--Pepsi to ISIS's Coke--and the shooters do seem to have been confused about a lot of things from what we've seen so far--but the fact remains that ISIS is the leading global brand and their selling point is "MOST XTREME." If someone has a 'good impression' of ISIS, they can have a good impression of anything else that humanity has ever done that's evil.

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