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Lecture questions ‘why so few terrorists?’

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 00:02

 

The question was simple, yet it carried lots of controversy with it. 

If terrorism can be done as easily as creating a homemade bomb or other do-it-yourself means, then why are there so few terrorists?

This question, among others, was posed to an audience of several dozen in the Grace Allen Room of the Library Monday afternoon. The man asking the questions was Charles Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill and author of recent book “The Missing Martyrs.”

“Unlike most presentations on terrorism, I’m going to say that terrorism is not such a huge problem,” Kurzman said. “It’s not the large problem many of us expected after 9/11.”

Kurzman’s lecture served as the inaugural headline for the Citizenship Initiative Speaker’s Series, a lecture series designed to prepare USF students for global citizenship.

Furthermore, he said, the connection between Islamic fundamentalists and terrorism wasn’t strong either. 

“If even 1 percent of the world’s billion Muslims, or even 1 percent of Muslims in the U.S. who number in the millions, were interested in doing this violent activity, there is no way they could all be stopped,” Kurzman said. “We would be seeing attacks, we would be seeing arrests, every day and all over. And yet we’re not – we don’t see it.”

Kurzman began his lecture with an example of terrorism that hit close to his home in Chapel Hill. In March of 2006, a UNC student, Mohammed Taheri-Azar, acted upon his radical views of the Quran, Kurzman said. 

The student originally had plans ranging from purchasing a firearm and shooting as many students as possible, to joining the air force to gain access to nuclear bombs or traveling to Middle East to help Afghan insurgents.

Taheri-Azar gained national attention in 2006 when he decided to rent a truck and drive it through a highly populated student recreation area on campus called “The Pit.” 

Though there were no deaths, Taheri-Azar ran over nine students, Kurzman said. Kurzman asked the audience if an act of terrorism can be as “easy” as driving a car, then “why aren’t terrorists more numerous?”

“It’s remarkable it hasn’t happened more often,” Kurzman said.

In his lecture, Kurzman referred to several translated documents from the Taliban and al-Qaida, attempting to recruit people in America. These documents told how simple it was to be a terrorist, blowing up a car or cutting the brakes on a truck.

“These ideas are simple. Anyone who wanted to be could be a terrorist, and yet we see so little of it,”

Kurzman said.

Kurzman said the expectations of terrorism stem from  disproportionate fear in the world.

“We haven’t seen the level of violence we were prepared to see after 9/11 to be braced for,” Kurzman said. “Yet our resource allocation still seems to be tilted in the direction of those major threats that have not materialized.”

Though Kurzman said acts of terrorism have picked up in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, society is now in a relatively peaceful era. Kurzman explained that current acts of terrorism are no more frequent than those that happened in the 1970s and 1980s.  

“We have this idea that we live in a dangerous world and we need to be protecting ourselves constantly in a permanent state of emergency,” he said. “We are living in a relatively peaceful time. … One of the unremarked phenomena of our era is that war between governments has almost entirely disappeared.”

Governments, which he said have far more capability to engage in mass violence, are no longer fighting against each other.

After the fighting between the U.S. and Iraq and the conflicts between India and Pakistan in 2003, Kurzman said there was a “historically unprecedented” peacetime of four years where no government on the planet was fighting any other foreign power.

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1 comments

Anonymous
Fri Feb 15 2013 14:45
Kurzman lives in fantasy-land.Here is what some ex-Muslims say about Islam. I encourage you, and all Muslims, to free yourself."But the religion of Islam means Peace!Or does it?...The Good MuslimsAlthough there are certainly many good people who call themselvesMuslims, all of these people are either living in terrible fear of leavingtheir religion, or have been duped by it. Or, they choose to remain eternallyclueless about it...And then of course there are the many evil Muslims. Those Muslimswho KNOW that Islam is evil.Those Muslims who happen to be personally honorable Muslims, areironically, the very worst of Muslims, for they give a very bad religion a goodname and aid in its continuation. Those Muslims who act as Imams and Islamic"academics" and work to further the goals of this fundamentally unjust,inherently violent, and highly intolerant religion are also doing great harm tohumanity.If these above mentioned groups of persons continue in their waysand succeed in keeping Islam alive and flourishing, the world will be a trulydark place no sane person would want their son or daughter to live in. The timehas come for all Muslims, both laymen and learned, moderate and fundamentalist,to objectively re-examine the religion they currently believe to be infallibleand beyond the need for critical examination. The horrible truth about theIslamic religion must become known if humanity is to survive.It has become obvious to many Muslims that there is something seriously wrongwith Islam. But what? What is wrong with Islam? Was Muhammad merely a sickhuman being and a liar? Is Islam the corrupted product of many different hands?These questions are well worth asking as there is so much at stake. Thosepeople who are good people and adhere to Islam must be asking themselveswhether Islam is in fact a religion come from God as Muhammad proclaimed. ThoseMuslims who know of Muhammad's questionable behavior (murder, assassination,thievery, pedophilia, etc.) are now wondering whether they want to continueblindly following this sick man and his hateful and violent religion.Unfortunately, the fear that Muhammad's Islam has induced in theminds of Muslims has rendered them incapable of thinking rationally about thereligion. This is changing though, as more and more Muslims become exposed tothe grotesque truth about Muhammad and his Islam. Upon learning the truth aboutIslam, honest people of integrity begin the profoundly liberating process of apostasizingfrom Islam. It can definitively be stated that no decent person of sane mind,knowing the real facts about Islam, could remain in the religion with a clearconscience. We informed apostates of Islam know for certain that Muhammad'sIslam is in reality the exact opposite of what it claims to be.Most Muslims genuinely do not know how evil Islamic ideologyreally is. It is an indisputable fact that Islam institutionalizesdiscrimination against women and non-Muslims, effectively puts an end to freedomof speech and freedom of conscience, and ensures perpetual warfare amongstmankind. Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam is not a flawless faithreceived from a god on high. Muhammad was not the perfect man. This "religion"is so perverse in fact, that it demands that those who leave it be killed.Muhammad was a deranged man. He was so deranged in fact, that hehimself believed his own lies. He made his living and satisfied his "needs" bycreating enemies and then raiding and looting their property. Muhammad and hisgang of criminals butchered thousands of people during their raids. Often thewomen and children were spared death only to be enslaved and sold for profit orused as concubines and free labor. Many of the modern day followers ofMuhammad's cult of Islam want to re-live that savage age. They want toslaughter "infidels" and take their wives. They want to see stonings,amputations, and mute women in full length black garb on every street. Theearly Muslims became Muslims by being duped or threatened by that convincingmad man. Modern Muslims, even the most educated, are Muslims due to either fearor ignorance, period.Those folks who consider themselves to be good Muslims must beterribly disturbed when witnessing the constant horrors being created aroundthe world by their co-religionists who rightly justify their evil deeds in thename of Islam. Tragically, according to Islam, Muslims need only treat Muslimsjustly - to hell with the rights of those who will not submit to Islam. Themisery and loss of life being created by Muslims acting upon Islamic doctrineis staggering. The harm that Islam has wrought upon humanity is withoutparallel among the world's religions. It has now become crystal clear tosensible people that Muhammad's legacy is the most shameful and harmful legacyof all of the leaders the world has come to know by name. The name Muhammad nowdenotes disgust, distrust and dishonesty. Though for Muslims, as any "truebeliever" will tell you, Muhammad must still be considered the perfect...




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