Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Thought Experiment

Imagine four ordinary-looking young men from a small town in central Texas, near Waco. Each one has a somewhat different background, and they live apparently separate lives: one is described a something of a loser, bullied by his older brother; a second was known for his love of sports; a third is an immigrant with a bit more shadowy background; and the last is a family man and a teacher.

Most people who know them don't realize their "hobby" -- they have each taken up membership in a "right-wing militia" group, and have participated in numerous "training" sessions in the woods, involving heavy weaponry. Their enthusiasm and zeal, while alarming some of their fellow militia men, bring them to the special attention of a mysterious "squad leader" with a German-sounding name. They are kicked out of the militia, but continue their affiliation with the squad leader.

In private sessions, this charismatic man drills them not only on the use of the weapons, but their ultimate purpose: to bring Heaven on earth by hastening the apocalypse as described in his idiosyncratic interpretation of the Book of Revelation.

After the horrific bombing of a federal office center in a nearby metropolitan center, killing over 100 people including children in a day care center, one of these four young men is reported missing by his family. A search of his apartment, and later those of his "buddies," turns up copies of the Left Behind series, as well as Nazi paraphernalia (including membership documents for the Aryan Nations).

What would the sophisticated classes say was the "root cause" of their behavior? Who would they condemn: the evil Nazi fundamentalists, or the government whose policies made them feel oppressed?

And wouldn't the leader of the Democratic Party say something like the following, and wouldn't his party and the media rally behind him?:
When they talk of hatred, we must stand against them. When they talk of violence, we must stand against them. When they say things that are irresponsible, that may have egregious consequences, we must call them on it. The exercise of their freedom of speech makes our silence all the more unforgivable. So exercise yours, my fellow Americans. Our country, our future,our way of life is at stake.


Blogger wretchard said...

Logically people would act the same way in equivalent situations. But they won't in this case because they have a "side". Hence Clancy's Sum of All Fears villains are transformed from Muslims to Nazis. One was not as good as the other.

But the asymmetry will crumble under the hammer of reality. The need to survive makes your mind clear. It will in the end clear up the minds of even the most obtuse. The question is whether it will happen in time.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Goesh said...

- brilliant

4:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to the question of (will it happen in time) Very doughtfull!!!Tollerance-Political Correctness-Apathy-College Professors-News Media, PICK YOUR POISON.

7:30 AM  

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