Academics Still Scratching Their Heads: What Causes Terrorism?
In an article titled "Princeton Economist Says Lack of Civil Liberties, Not Poverty, Breeds Terrorism", the WSJ recently reported on the views of Princeton economist Alan Krueger, who has studied whether poverty causes terrorism (see his paper here, for example.)
This is of course ludicrous. It doesn't require statistical studies to dispel the myth that "poverty causes terrorism". Krueger's counter-hypothesis, that political oppression breeds terrorism, is equally wrong-headed. Over the past three centuries, poverty and oppression have led millions to seek to immigrate to America -- not blow up its buildings.
The notion that a person's beliefs and actions are determined by his material conditions (e.g. poverty) is simply stale left-over Marxism. In reality, it is the fundamental ideas that a person accepts which determine how he will evaluate the world, and how he will act.
Eager immigrants to America desired a better life here on earth, and valued America and its freedom for the chance to achieve that better life. In contrast, Islamists openly tell us that they love death and care nothing for this world. Far from seeing poverty as a negative, they view America's glittering material wealth as a sinful temptation, proof of America's moral corruption. Far from bristling at political oppression, Islamists proclaim their goal to impose totalitarian Islam on every corner of the earth.
The Islamists openly tell us what motivates them to attack us: their religious/philosophical beliefs. Why do we in the West have such a hard time taking them at their word?