Why would a citizen of a country that serves them well opt for betrayal? Why would a US army psychiatrist value Militant Islam more than fellow soldiers he felt justified to murder? Why would Somali-American teenagers train to become suicide bombers, first abroad, but hoping to do so in their homeland?
The recent spate of terrorists who want to damage this country and as many of its residents as possible is not new; we need to remember this issue in the past, and how we dealt with it.
• Germans. Before World War II, some Americans of German ancestry were attracted to the Nazi movement. They held marches in many cities, selecting Jewish neighborhoods to announce what would happen to Jews when the Nazis won the war. When war broke out, the FBI arrested them. If citizens, they were imprisoned; if not, deported. And if they returned as terrorists, executed.
Nazi Germany came to an ignominious end in 1945, and exposure of its death camps became a model of genocidal horror that has ever since served as a warning of how a good society can become an outlaw.
• Japanese. Japanese citizens, many born in the United States, were immediately suspect after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. With little evidence of disloyalty, they were relocated from the West Coast into internment camps for the duration of the war. The injustice of this became evident when young Japanese Americans enlisted in the army and distinguished themselves as patriotic and incredibly brave. They fought in some of the most deadly combat areas of the war with distinction.
• Communists. In the 1930s, during the great depression, throughout World War II and into the Cold War, Communism recruited followers. The appeal was not ethnic (as with the Germans), nor an identifiable racial group (the Japanese), but more often than not intellectuals and university elites. The appeal of Communism from its inception, even before the Russian Revolution of 1917, was the supposed equality of men and women, rich and poor, and the utopian desire to create a world in which justice would prevail. It appealed enormously to the young, in rebellion against the establishment to which their own parents belonged; it appealed to intellectual minorities (Jewish and Black idealists), who envisioned a world without prejudice; and it recruited foot soldiers among the poor and ignorant. Native-born communist operatives did great damage to both Great Britain and the United States.
As the Soviet Union increasingly demonstrated that it was not a brave new world, but was rather a great concentration camp, the more intelligent Marxists withdrew from the movement. One would hope that the collapse of the USSR would finally convince idealists that this was not a viable system at all, but the dreams of perfect equality and a brave new world still dazzles university students and some of their professors. Myths have long lives and Marxism has morphed into Anarchism.
• Militant Islam. The present generation of turncoats are inspired by ideology, this time Militant Islam. Islam has adherents around the world, thus loyalty to any ethnicity is irrelevant. It recruits, as the Communists did, but does not have much appeal for educated non-Muslims. Islamist recruiters have instead depended upon propaganda from Mosques, specialized brainwashing “schools” (Madrassas), and a reinterpretation of Muslim scriptures with emphasis on conquest, death for infidels (including the “wrong” kind of Muslims), suppression of women, and rejection of all cultural values of modernity, except for modern weapons and tools of coercion. It is an odd mixture of the primitive and medieval and modern means of death and destruction.
This movement is international, with violent eruptions daily in Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, and when they can manage it, in shopping malls (such as Nairobi) and nightclubs (Bali). In Europe and the US, horrific attacks have alerted modern governments to defensive mode, thus thwarting many follow-on attacks---so far.
This latest campaign of mayhem and betrayals will, like the others, come to an end. These utopian visions are always ultimately found to be stupid and their envisioned Caliphates (or Brave New Worlds) ephemeral.
Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of How Do You Know That? You may contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.