Frank Furedi has a piece up in Spike.
Reports that three sisters from Bradford and their nine children are on their way to Syria show that British Muslims inspired to make the journey potentially to join the Islamic State are no longer unusual or unique individuals. Likewise, the response to the reports shows how bewildered and confused many now are when confronted with the so-called radicalisation of fellow members of society.
The very language used to discuss the sisters’ preference for life in Syria over life in Britain betrays a complete lack of comprehension of the social and cultural dynamics at work. Bradford West MP Naz Shah, who spoke with the families of the sisters, stated, ‘I asked them if there was any indication [as to what the sisters were planning to do], and they said, absolutely not – it was a shock to them, it came out of the blue’. That it always comes ‘out of the blue’ is testimony to a failure to understand the cultural chasm that separates the world of many young Muslims from mainstream society.
Others report that the women came from a ‘hardworking’ and ‘respectable’ family. Yet young people going to Syria invariably come from normal families. The fact that the parents’ respectability is remarked upon at all shows that commentators are fixated on a non-existent pathology…
..What Clarke identified was a symptom of a far more profound and difficult problem. Young people do not turn into suicide bombers overnight or ‘out of the blue’, unless they can draw on cultural and political resources that affirm their decision. They draw support for their conviction that theirs is a cause worth fighting for from their everyday experience.
..The myth of grooming
Anglo-American societies have become so obsessed with child protection that they often interpret a variety of social problems through the prism of paedophilia. The idea of online grooming, for instance, has mutated into a fantasy used to explain every disturbing example of homegrown jihadism. The model of perfidious groomers seducing otherwise innocent young Muslims turns what is a struggle of ideas, a battle between ways of life, into a malevolent act of deception.
No doubt there are some clever online jihadists who are good at attracting the attention of would-be supporters. However, no one is forcing people to go online or to enter chatrooms or visit jihadist websites. Most of the time, it is the so-called vulnerable youth who, in the process of searching for answers, actively look for the ‘groomers’.
…In reality, the term radicalisation captures only part of the story. The sentiments and behaviours associated with radicalisation are more accurately expressed through terms like ‘alienation’ and ‘estrangement’. The sense of estrangement from, and resentment towards, society is logically prior to the radicalising message internalised by individuals. In Europe, the embrace of a radical Islamist ideology is preceded by a rejection of society’s Western culture. Invariably, such a rejection on the part of young jihadists also reflects a generational reaction against the behaviour and way of life of their parents.
This double alienation – from parent and society – is not unconnected to normal forms of generational estrangement. What we see here is a variant form of the generational gap, except that, in this instance, it has unusual and potentially very destructive consequences.
The embrace of radical Islam is underpinned by a twofold process: an attraction to new ideas and alternative ways of life, and a rejection of the status quo. The radicalisation thesis, however, one-sidedly emphasises the so-called groomers’ powers of attraction…
My own comment: They are not rejecting their parent’s values completely. They are embracing their “formal values”, while rejecting their “lived values”. The Islam their parents taught them almost certainly included Jihadist and anti-infidel elements that, taken literally and taken to their “logical conclusion”, lead to Jihad in Syria, if not in Britain itself. Their parents failed to teach them how they selectively follow this “ideal” and compromise with reality. And I do believe that Western education is also to blame in the sense that Western cultures emphasize authenticity and honesty and “being true to yourself” while rejecting the notion of saying one thing while doing another as undesirable. Sure, there are hypocrites in the West just as there are in the East, but some kids will take their education more seriously than others…this is a failure of hypocrisy … a crisis of hypocrisy is upon us.