“There’s a nagging sense of emptiness. So people look for anything; they believe in any extreme – any extremist nonsense is better than nothing.” – JG Ballad
There is a revealing similarity between the attacks on September 11, 2001 – when airplanes were flown into the twin towers, killing thousands of people – and the attacks in Paris, in which over 130 people were killed and hundreds wounded. Yet, what they have in common has been largely overlooked in the mainstream and alternative media’s coverage of the more recent terrorist attacks. While both assaults have been rightly viewed as desperate acts of alarming terrorism, what has been missed is that both acts of violence were committed by young men. This is not a minor issue because unraveling this similarity provides the possibility for addressing the conditions that made such attacks possible.
ISIS capitalizes on the desperation, humiliation and loss of hope that many young Muslims experience in the West.
While French President François Hollande did say soon after the Paris assault that “youth in all its diversity” was targeted, he did not address the implications of the attacks’ heinous and wanton violence. Instead, he embraced the not-so-exceptional discourse of militarism, vengeance and ideological certainty, a discourse that turned 9/11 into an unending war, a tragic mistake that cost millions of lives and ensured that the war on terrorism would benefit and play into the very hands of those at which it was aimed. The call for war, retribution and revenge extended the violent landscape of everyday oppressions by shutting down any possibility for understanding the conditions that gave birth to the violence committed by young people against innocent youthful civilians.
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