July 6, 2007, - 4:09 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
It’s Islam, stupid!
A couple of day’s ago Oprah featured two 9/11 widows on her daytime talk show. They raised money to help Afghani widows start businesses and support themselves. “We gave them this opportunity, so that they’d get out of poverty, so that 9/11 would never happen again.”
I was shouting at the TV: They commited this terrorist murder of 3,000 Americans out of hate bred by their Islamic ideology, NOT out of economic status. (Many, including Mohammed Atta, were wealthy and educated.)
The 9/11 widow’s myth has been repeated by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, President Bush, Mrs. Bush, Oprah herself, and your average dummy on the street who watches her.
Wall Street Journal columnist David Wessel writes about Princeton economist Alan Krueger’s in-depth research that proves what I’ve been saying like forever, and what most others seem to have just noticed with the Medical Doctor Terrorists involved in the foiled British bomb plots: that terrorists are not only NOT bred by poverty and lack of opportunity, but that they are actually better educated and wealthier than most. What distinguishes them–aside form ideology–is that they come from repressive Muslim countries.
Although I don’t agree with all of its assertions (Krueger thinks we should give more civil liberties to terrorists here–they have too many), here is some of the column, with a few brief results of the study and a few of my comments and analysis:
Each time we have one of these attacks and the backgrounds of the attackers are revealed, this should put to rest the myth that terrorists are attacking us because they are desperately poor,” he says. “But this misconception doesn’t die.” . . .
“As a group, terrorists are better educated and from wealthier families than the typical person in the same age group in the societies from which they originate,” Mr. Krueger said at the London School of Economics last year in a lecture soon to be published as a book, “What Makes a Terrorist?” [DS: Which I don’t recommend; read on for my reasons.]
“There is no evidence of a general tendency for impoverished or uneducated people to be more likely to support terrorism or join terrorist organizations than their higher-income, better-educated countrymen,” he said. The Sept. 11 attackers were relatively well-off men from a rich country, Saudi Arabia [DS: Not all of them, as 4 were not from Saudi Arabia].
Mr. Krueger, 46 years old, is one of those academics whose research extends from the standard fare — How much more do workers with education earn? What happens to employment when the minimum wage rises? — to, well, cool stuff. Did Firestone factories produce shoddy tires during a period of labor unrest? (Yes) Are rich people really enjoying life more than the rest of us? (No) Are concert-ticket prices higher for female musicians than males? (Yes) [DS: Because there’s less demand.]
He began poking around this sordid subject a decade ago when he and a colleague found little connection between economic circumstances and the incidence of violent hate crimes in Germany. Among the statistical pieces of the puzzle a small band of academics have assembled since are these:
‚Ä¢ Backgrounds of 148 Palestinian suicide bombers show they were less likely to come from families living in poverty and were more likely to have finished high school than the general population. Biographies of 129 Hezbollah shahids (martyrs) reveal they, too, are less likely to be from poor families than the Lebanese population from which they come. . . .
‚Ä¢ Terrorism doesn’t increase in the Middle East when economic conditions worsen; indeed, there seems no link. One study finds the number of terrorist incidents is actually higher in countries that spend more on social-welfare programs. Slicing and dicing data finds no discernible pattern that countries that are poorer or more illiterate produce more terrorists. Examining 781 terrorist events classified by the U.S. State Department as “significant” reveals terrorists tend to come from countries distinguished by political oppression, not poverty or inequality.
‚Ä¢ Public-opinion polls from Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey find people with more education are more likely to say suicide attacks against Westerners in Iraq are justified. Polls of Palestinians find no clear difference in support for terrorism as a means to achieve political ends between the most and least educated. . . .
But the conventional wisdom that poverty breeds terrorism is backed by surprisingly little hard evidence. “The evidence is nearly unanimous in rejecting either material deprivation or inadequate education as an important cause of support for terrorism or of participation in terrorist activities,” Mr. Krueger asserts. The 9/11 Commission stated flatly: Terrorism is not caused by poverty.
So what is the cause? Suppression of civil liberties and political rights, Mr. Krueger hypothesizes. “When nonviolent means of protest are curtailed,” he says, “malcontents appear to be more likely to turn to terrorist tactics.” [DS: Uh, not the case here in America, where they enjoy more civil liberties than anywhere and win most of their challenges to curtailment in court. Yet, we still catch terrorist plots all the time. Fort Dix Six, JFK Airport, etc.]
Which — ironically, given that Mr. Krueger is no fan of the president’s actual policies at home or abroad — is close to Mr. Bush’s rhetoric: “Liberty has got the capacity to change enemies into allies.”
Wrong. Liberty makes it easier for enemies to attack allies. Islamic thought taught in mosques and schools and on TV is what breeds and encourages acts of terror. Too bad, even Krueger gets it wrong.
Tags: Alan Krueger, America, Bush, columnist, David Wessel, Debbie Schlussel It, Department of State, economist, Fort Dix Six, Germany, Hizballah, Iraq, JFK Airport, Jordan, London School of Economics, Middle East, Mohammed Atta, Morocco, Oprah, Pakistan, President, Princeton, Princeton economist, Saudi Arabia, Steven Tyler, Turkey, Wall Street Journal