Today the New York Times published an opinion piece, “What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers?” that links Palestinians to the Newtown, CT, school massacre of last Friday. Writer Adam Lankford concludes:
I can’t help but wonder about [US school shooters] Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Seung-Hui Cho and Adam Lanza. If they had been born in Gaza or the West Bank, shaped by terrorist organizations’ hateful propaganda, would they have strapped bombs around their waists and blown themselves up? I’m afraid the answer is yes.
Lankford is an assistant professor of criminal justice with no apparent knowledge regarding any bad behavior by Israel or the US, has investigated the motives of terrorists by reading and watching interviews conducted by others. From this he has concluded that suicide terrorism directed against the US or Israel is motivated by mental illness, with the assistance of hateful propaganda and a set of imaginary grievances which the terrorist uses to justify his or her actions.
Someone at the New York Times actually thought it was appropriate to publish someone who uses the murder of the Connecticut school kids as another propaganda point in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and to defend US foreign policy.
Scott Atran, who has done real research on terrorism, has reached different conclusions–
Read through that and you’ll notice that in some famous suicide terrorist cases, the participants were friends from similar backgrounds or the same village or even the same soccer team. They joined terrorist organizations out of a misplaced sense of glory and duty. It doesn’t sound like Adam Lanza at all, who didn’t seem to have friends and who shot his own mother.
Other articles by Atran–
If the New York Times wants to publish articles or opinion pieces on the psychology of terrorists, would it be too much to ask that the writers be required to give detailed backing for their views, rather than simply making grand claims about their research that by some amazing coincidence line up perfectly with the political interests of one side in a conflict?