"Behind the smiles, they had murder on their minds on what is believed to be their last fun day out before the London bombings," says the caption of this eerie image that shows two of the terrorists (middle and bottom right) whitewater rafting June 4 in North Wales.
"This is the revolt of the privileged, Islamic version. They have risen so far, so fast in the dizzying culture of the West that they have become enraged, disoriented and vulnerable to manipulation," writes David Ignatius [via Roger L. Simon], locating the London terrorists' self-absorption on the extreme end of a continuum they share with our own all-about-me student radicals of the Sixties:
When you read reports that the Muslim terrorists who bombed the London Underground may have gotten together for a pre-attack whitewater rafting trip in Wales, you realize that this is a very particular enemy -- and one that is recognizable to students of history . . .
People who were students in the 1960s will remember the phenomenon: The kids from elite public and private schools who went to college, felt guilty about their comfort amid a brutal world, and joined the Progressive Labor Party to ally with oppressed Third World workers. There is a cult aspect to this jihad – an extreme version of the logic that has always drawn disaffected kids to self-destructive behavior.
As Janet Daley wrote in the London Times the other day, "We have always known about the seductive power of death cults on the young." Austin Bay [again via Roger L. Simon] pegged "the 'rich kid' phenomenon" way back when:
These [Osama and a guest on a videotape gloating post 9/11] are rich kids -- poverty didn’t produce their terrorism. The self-absorbed bullies believe they’ve sucked America into an Afghan war that they and their Taliban pals will win. The visitor asserts Islam’s religious-political appeal is increasing.
Ignatius quotes a favorite saying of Osama & Company that echoes the mindset of those Sixties students: "Why should we accept that anybody knows better than us?":
The Islamic extremists are often described as "Salafists," and it's interesting to explore just what this says about their spiritual moorings. The Arabic word salaf means "past," and the Salafists are often said to be trying to re-create the pure values of the ancient ones who were the Prophet's companions.
According to Vincenzo Oliveti in his fine study of the Salafists, titled "Terror's Source," their religious teaching casts aside the traditional canon – the "Sunna" that make up Sunni Islam – in favor of a have-it-your-way smorgasbord. A favorite saying of the Salafists, according to Oliveti, is nahnu rijal wa hum rijal, which he translates loosely as "We are all men so why should we accept that anybody knows better than us?"
Reading those words, we thought of Ibsen. If you read Roger L. Simon regularly [Doesn't everyone? --ed], you'll know why.
Not all cults -- in the sense of "an exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest" -- are bad. It's the continuum thing again. Behind the smiles, the Discovery's Return to Flight crew had scientific progress on their minds as they posed prior to their Tuesday lift-off (NASA photo). As you no doubt know, on-shuttle cameras showed pieces of foam peeling off during launch, and the fleet has been grounded until further notice. But did you know (we didn't) that -- as Instapundit notes in a link to Mike's Noise -- "the foam that's causing the problems was reformulated for environmental reasons, which seems to have been a mistake." Indeed.
"With his customary brilliance, the British psychiatrist demonstrates how the Norwegian playwright was one of the key progenitors of post-modern cultural relativism," wrote Roger, referring to British psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple's City Journal tour de force on Henrik Ibsen's role in prefiguring the self-centered mindset that would be hatched in the Sixties and come home to roost in the last decades of the century when former student radicals took their places as card-carrying members of the trendsetting, left-leaning cultural elite. Writes Dalrymple:
The modernity of Ibsen's thought hardly needs further emphasis. The elevation of emotion over principle, of inclination over duty, of rights over responsibilities, of ego over the claims of others; the impatience with boundaries and the promotion of the self as the measure of all things: what could be more modern or gratifying to our current sensibility?
In Ibsen’s philosophy, everyone -- at least Nature’s aristocrats, for in fact Ibsen was no egalitarian or democrat -- must examine every question for himself and arrive at his own answer: for example, whether the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is historically true -- or at least historically true for him.
It's Bush's fault.