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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Boston to Houston: a right to radicalize?

"As Tamerlan's devotion to Islam became more intense and radicalized, Dzhokhar showed signs of his brother's influence" - The Atlantic Wire, May 5, 2013

"A YouTube account apparently belonging to Tamerlan Tsarnaev gives tantalising hints of his radicalisation before the Boston bombings" - The (UK) Guardian, April 22, 2013

"Rojanksy will speak to the notion that Islamic extremists, and Chechen ties, contributed to the radicalization of the suspected bombers" - programming notes for the April 24, 2013, episode of CNN's Piers Morgan Live [emphasis mine]

Since the horrible events in Boston, last month, it is impossible to browse a news site or watch television news without having the word thrown in your face like a water soaked towel. Guantanamo radicalizes. Middle East politics radicalizes. Islam radicalizes. The Internet radicalizes.

"I think that this is a very difficult challenge when you have individuals who are self-radicalizing, they’re not part of some massive conspiracy or a network," President Obama told a Univision interviewer, Friday.
To that end, Newsweek's Michael Moynihan, in a piece where he uses a pseudonym to explore extremist websites, defines "self-radicalization" as "the process by which those unconnected to organized jihad are lured toward extremism via the Web."

If the online snuff films and photographs of dead children that Moynihan describes are part of the jihadist call to arms, then coming down from the dark cloud of the terrorist underworld can only be countered with an equally potent validation of community and belonging.

"A lot of these videos, they are very emotive," Haris Tarin, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told PBS' Bob Abernethy, last week. "These sermons, they use violence and gruesome images to tug at the emotion of young people."

But while the media is scrambling to compartmentalize "self-radicalization" as a behavior in which only a handful of sociopathic, homegrown Islamic terrorists engage, there's one place in the American conversation where radicalization from an organized group gets only minimal attention from the press, as an existential threat. I'm speaking, of course, of the National Rifle Association.

In Houston, this past weekend, the NRA paraded speaker after speaker, who railed against Obama and gun safety advocates with the hateful energy of a radical imam. Through the exhortations of their leadership, the NRA are behaving like American jihadis. Like the terrorist who twists the Qur'an to defend their murderous ways, the anti-government, cultural isolationists of the NRA re-interpret the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights to justify arming themselves for revolution.

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