In my colleague Ben Stein’s newest article, he says of Islamic terrorists like those who committed murder and mayhem in Paris this week that “Just a tiny group of severely mentally ill people can find some relief by cloaking their fear and rage in religious and political fervor and fever, and then they reach personality climax by killing the innocent and the harmless.”
While I agree with Ben regarding the remarkable harm which can be caused by a small number of people, I think it’s a mistake to call them mentally ill or “psychos”; yes, some of them may be but I suspect that most (as well as most Nazis, a group which Ben also mentions in this context) were not mentally ill but rather the holders of beliefs based on fundamentally erroneous and evil assumptions and teachings.
If a person is taught something for years and comes to believe it, that does not imply insanity as most people would understand the word – and its implications.
Again, I’m not saying that none of these people is insane. Some might be.
But categorizing them as such is not helpful in considering how to understand and respond to the threat. Insane people are legally not responsible for their actions. These people must be. Insane people don’t know that what they’re doing is considered wrong by society. These people know but choose to assert their own belief system in violation of others’ most fundamental rights. They must be punished for doing so, and to the greatest extent possible stopped from doing so.
I would also suggest that the percentage of the population which is “insane” is far lower than the percentage of the Muslim population which supports violence in the name of Sharia law or of “the prophet”; calling terrorists lunatics minimizes the actual danger posed by the cult of radical Islam.
Finally, I would note that Ben is right to point out the connection between these events and the rise of global anti-Semitism which is being aided by idiots in the media such as CNN’s Chris Cuomo who tried to argue that the Islamist attack on a kosher deli in eastern Paris might not have been specifically targeting Jews (because Muslims shopped there too.) A short time later, it was reported (including on CNN, I believe) that a French reporter spoke with the perpetrator during the attack and was told by him that he chose the target “because it served Jews.” What possible point could Cuomo have been trying to make other than to serve as an apologist for terrorists? (I doubt that was his true intention, but his politically correct idiocy makes that his impact. This is, after all, the same guy who called the terrorist, who was a Frenchman, “African-American“.)
I could go on about the rise of anti-Semitism in the US and Europe (such as UCLA adding Cuba to its list of places to study abroad shortly after removing Israel from the list) but we’ll save that for another day.
In the meantime, it’s important that we don’t confuse error or evil with insanity. Lunatics, in a strange way, can deserve our sympathy. These murderers deserve our hatred and our undying opposition to their cause.