February 2018

Hearts and Minds

On becoming Klan (1982) (via)

“[Dr. Chalmers] testified that the Klan had four basic components. One is what he called ‘one hundred percent Americanism.’ The Klan is as old as apple pie in the United States, and has always been what they called in the old days a ‘native American party.’ I’m not speaking of Native Americans as we ordinarily think of them… Their notion was that no one but whites from Northern Europe should be here on these shores. The Klan is a continuation of that ideology.

A second component is moral conformity, which I spoke of earlier. Third, the notion of fraternity, of brotherhood. And finally, and most important to us at any rate, is the notion of violent action. They do something about the problems.

Most of the rank-and-file Klansmen, at least the ones I encountered in Chattanooga, were poor, uneducated, working-class whites. And the Klan gave them something to be proud of; it gave them a perspective, a purpose. And that’s the attraction the Klan has for white working-class America. And unless you all can develop some other method, or some other means of expression, you won’t be able to defeat the Klan.”


On becoming ISIS (2017) (via)

“The motivation for people to join violent extremist groups in Syria and Iraq remains more personal than political… [ISIS propaganda] appeals to those who seek a new beginning rather than revenge for past acts. A search for belonging, purpose, adventure, and friendship, appear to remain the main reasons for people to join the Islamic State.…

Our results suggest that it is not so much the lack of material resources that is important for terrorism but rather the lack of economic opportunities: Countries that restrict economic freedom experience more terrorism.… While unemployment on its own does not impact radicalization, unemployment… leads to a greater probability of radicalization.…

The validation of the influence of friendship in motivating individuals to become [foreign terrorist fighters] supports the ‘bunch of guys’ theory of terrorism put forward by the psychologist Marc Sageman, who argues that the decision to join a terrorist group ‘was based on pre–existing friendship’ ties and ‘that the evolving group of future perpetrators seemed more akin to’ such networks ‘than a formal terrorist cell, with well–defined hierarchy and division of labour.’ This theory has led some observers to call for a ‘social network approach to terrorism’”


On becoming MS13 in the Americas (2018) (via)

“The MS13 is a social organization first, and a criminal organization second. The MS13 is a complex phenomenon. The gang is not about generating revenue as much as it is about creating a collective identity that is constructed and reinforced by shared, often criminal experiences, especially acts of violence and expressions of social control. The MS13 draws on a mythic notion of community, a team concept, and an ideology based on its bloody fight with its chief rival, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) gang, to sustain a huge, loosely organized social and criminal organization.…

In conversations, gang members make clear that it is centered on the notion of community, which they loosely refer to as ‘el barrio.’

El barrio encompasses the best and the worst of the gang, an expression of its bipolar personality that is the defining characteristic of this group. El barrio is a physical space. It has borders, and the gang marks those borders with graffiti and other public symbols. It posts its members at the edges of these borders to ensure others do not encroach on its space, and members protect this space with their lives, if necessary. It draws revenue from this territory and, in some cases, builds social and political ties with its residents, even while it is victimizing them.

But el barrio is also psychological. What seems to bind all these groups is that they are looking for a sense of place: a space where they can get protection and nurturing - both positive and negative; a space where others are supportive of one another; a space it can call its own, henceforth its near constant references and symbols that beckon the homeland. That space is what they call el barrio.”

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