The International Writers Magazine: War and Speech
A Real Weapon of Mass Destruction
Islamic fundamentalism is a rapidly spreading mental virus, an
ideological cancer, and one of the oldest and most dangerous group
As soon as
the Bush administration declared a War on Terror, something
Dropping this verbal atomic bomb in response to the horror of September
11th, the United States, a world superpower, elevated a cult leader,
mass murderer, and ideological fanaticOsama bin Laden and his
band of fundamentalist clonesto the status of a nation state.
We gave an already infamous terrorist renewed credibility among his
followers, a tremendous PR coup and continuing recruitment bonanza for
Al Qaeda, dramatically increasing the threat and spread of terrorism.
A highly contagious, barbaric cluster of ideas (the Islamic face of
religious Fundamentalism) was given new life, empowered to infect additional
millions, with its pathological agenda of hate and murder.
Like the perpetual War on Drugs, labeling our efforts to
find a group of psychopaths a War on Terror was a plunge
into a linguistic, bottomless pit, another potentially endless pursuit
of an impossible goal.
Moreover, these three, notorious words, similar to some corporate logo,
appear everywhere, attached to every imaginable circumstance, creating
all manner of serious, long-term consequences including justification
for trampling on fundamental civil liberties, waging preemptive wars,
fomenting a continuous state of public apprehension, alienating our
long-term allies, and significantly increasing hatred, distrust and
fear of the US. We had the civilized world on our side right after 9-11
but instead we managed to alienate important friends and allies around
the world in a matter of monthssupreme arrogance and political
Using verbiage dripping in Religious Right doctrine (the Christian face
of religious fundamentalism), George W. continued his verbal hegemony
in his State of the Union Address, declaring that America is a
nation with a mission, and The cause we serve is right because
it is the cause of all mankind.
He had already stepped into another word nightmare when he labeled certain
countries as belonging to a designated Axis of Evil, and
Pentagon officials threatened to
drain the Middle East swamp,
self-righteous crusades that our God will help us accomplish.
Never mind if thousands of innocent civilians are terrorized and murdered
in the process. And, you and I need to remember that we,the
United Statesaccording to George W. Bush, are called
to bring Gods gift of liberty to every human being in the world.
Again, classic cult language: we are the superior chosen
people, outsiders are not.
We now have a new mission that should keep us busy for the foreseeable
future as well as insuring continued growth and expansion for the military-industrial
complexgood news and full employment for the Pentagon, Halliburton,
weapons manufacturers and, of course, all manner of terrorists. These
verbal blunders and misdirected reactions also let loose some lethal
group dynamics, fanning the flames of an ideological firestorm that
already poses a very real threat to the civilized world. Furthermore,
because of our war rhetoric response, we set ourselves up
to be an even more irresistible target for terrorists. There is nothing
more satisfying or exciting to a cult like Al Qaeda than an actual confrontation
with the Great Satan, their designated enemy, a most useful
tool for keeping a movement alive. Such groups cannot see their own
faults; everything bad and evil is projected out there on
an external foe; the cult is but a victim of oppression, not responsible
for their circumstances or their self-destructive ideas and social policies.
Because of this volatile group dynamic, how we react to evil becomes
a determining factor in either escalating terrorism and hatred or reducing
the threat of terrorism.
It is a group-think trap to rationalize and justify any form of terrorism
with real or imagined grievances. To do so is to reward acts of terrorism,
transforming savages and murderers into diplomats and heroes. We then
become defacto supporters of this regressive, primitive, immoral logic
which, if accepted, can, without a twinge of conscience or humanity,
rationalize the most unspeakable evil to further the cults agenda.
From a fundamentalist, cult mind-set, a suicide bomber yearns for death
and martyrdom as a passport into heaven or paradise. Thus death becomes
an ultimate goal to be attained. Suicide and murder for a twisted and
perverted ideological organism become virtues; barbaric, spiritually
ignorant individuals misunderstand and misinterpret allegorical stories
and metaphors, whether in the Koran, Bible, Torah, or any other text.
In a fundamentalist group, religious scriptures are taken as historical
fact and acted upon accordingly. Such groups are, as author, Robert
J. Lifton observed, always on the edge of violence because it
(the fundamentalist group) ever mobilizes for an absolute confrontation
with designated evil, thereby justifying any actions taken to eliminate
that evil. Meanwhile, the leaders of such groups
never do what they encourage their followers to do. After all they,
the Bin Ladens of the world, and other like-minded, criminal, cult leaders
of terrorist groups, have discovered the cruelest, cheapest weapon of
all: an endless supply of thoroughly brainwashed individuals who are
expendable fodder for what is in reality a political cult masquerading
as a religious group. The cult uses youthful idealism and
naiveté for its own ends. The serial murder of innocents in the
dark factories of terrorism begins with young suicide bombers. For them,
the cult and its bloodthirsty mission are more important than individual
When we attacked Iraq, we again walked right into this same deadly group
dynamic: by starting a war, essentially on our own, we fulfilled our
role as the Great Satan in the minds of Islamic radicals,
empowering and reinforcing their mass-pathological mission to destroy
western civilization and replace it with a Moslem theocracy. A prominent
Iranian ayatollah, a religious fundamentalist, made this mission quite
clear: Moslems have no alternative . . . to an armed holy war
against profane governments. . . It will be the duty of every able-bodied
adult male to volunteer for this war of conquest, the final aim of which
is to put Koranic law in power from one end of the earth to the other.
Radical Islamic fundamentalism is a rapidly spreading mental virus,
an ideological cancer, and one of the oldest and most dangerous group
dynamics; it is fast corrupting traditional Islamic values of compassion
and mercy. The barbarians are not only at the gates of the civilized
world, they are inside.
And by the way, now that Iraq has settled into an ongoing quagmire,
maybe we can muster enough real intelligence to catch Bin
Laden and all his accomplices. You remember him; the guy with the AK-47,
that cave-dwelling columnist for Al-Jazeerathe murderer actually
responsible for the September 11th massacre. Bin Laden ought to be treated
by the U.S. and the international community as the criminal and mass
murderer that he is, nothing more and nothing less.
A more sensible U.S. response following September 11th (then and now)
would have been to organize a powerful and effective international alliance,
a coordinated police action to track down each individual involved in
the 9-11 tragedy.
When it comes to group dynamics, we are dangerously illiterate
and naive. It may well be that we are condemned to repeat past horrorsuntil
we come to grips with the crucial necessity to educate ourselves and
most urgently, children everywhere, about the often fatal effects of
destructive groups and destructive ideologies. It is too often true
that we are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverersthieves
planting flags, murderers carrying crosses.
D. Goldhammer, Ph.D., Feb 17th 2004
John is a Seattle Washington (USA) writer, psychologist, and author of
Under the Influence: The Destructive Effects of Group Dynamics
(Prometheus Books). His newest book has just been released: Radical
Dreaming (Kensington/Citadel Press). He created and taught these
university classes: Psychology of Groups and The Psychology of Hate.
 George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 20, 2004.
 George W. Bush, Bush
and God, Newsweek, March 10, 2003, pp. 24, 28.
 For additional explanation of language and group dynamics, see: Under
The Destructive Effects of Group Dynamics (New York: Prometheus Books).
 Robert J. Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism (Chapel
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989).
 Khomeini, Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeini, 4.
 Peter S. Beagle, from the Introduction: The Return of the King, by
J. R. R. Tolkien.
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