He’s mostly in sync with a new study on the subject. It’s one part Paradise, he says, and one part helping Islam to “rise again.” The study emphasizes the cult dynamic of the latter, in which the group’s needs are substituted for the individual’s, but insofar as both view the decision as a perversely rational one, they’re simpatico.

Dr Stevens argues that while religion plays a central role — there are few instances of non-religiously motivated suicide attacks — the suicide bomber is also driven on another level by a rational thought process. This is the desire to be part of a group that engenders strength and solidarity from strictness, and encourages members to submit totally to the collective aims of the group.

Being part of an exclusive group with very strict beliefs requires intense commitment, and engenders a deep belief in shared experience and self-sacrifice, according to a recent paper by Dr Stevens.

Suicide bombers are thus motivated by a “simple cost-benefit analysis”, in which the ‘benefits’ of self-destruction outweigh the cost. The benefits are perceived by the terrorist to be so great — in terms of membership of the group, achievement of collective goals, the promise of benefits in the after-life, and so on — that they outweigh the cost.

Shoebat’s got some ideas about how to defeat that mindset, too, but I doubt either Stevens or Christopher Hitchens would receive them warmly. No wonder he’s too hot for Columbia.

Speaking of cultish groupthink, Hirsi Ali decides it’s time to deprogram the media:

“Journalists … face the unpleasant reality of taking sides or getting lost in the incoherence of the so-called middle ground,” she said. “The role of journalists serving the West, who understand what this particular battle is about, will be to inform their audiences accordingly.”

Hirsi Ali said journalists must acknowledge the discrepancies between tenets of Islam and foundational beliefs of the West before they can accurately report on Islamic-related events…

“Why are Westerners so insecure about everything that is so wonderful about the West: political freedom, free press, freedom of expression, equal rights for women and men and gays and heterosexuals, critical thinking, and the great strength of scrutinizing ideas – and especially faith?” Hirsi Ali asked.

She said Western journalists appeared hesitant to defend free speech – “the very right from which they earn their bread.”…

She challenged journalists directly. “If we do not understand the differences between Islam and the West – why one is so great and the other so low – and we don’t fight back and win this battle of ideas in order to preserve our civilization, in my view there is no point to your profession or mine,” she said.

Exit question: What glaringly false assumption does she make here about how western journalists view their profession?

Tags: Islam religion