November 19, 2015

Terrorists now attack leisure targets: Will it wake up young Westerners more than 9/11?

There has been a change in the ideology and practice of radical Islamic terrorists. Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups put a strictly economic and political spin on their jihad, seeking revenge for the economic and political policies of the United States in the Middle East. In return, they attacked targets that stood as symbols of economic and political power -- the World Trade Center (big business), the Pentagon (military / government), the Charlie Hebdo magazine (media / fourth estate), and the subway systems that get employees where they need to go to work for these institutions of power, wealth, and influence.

Their leaders are primarily Baby Boomers; whether or not that has the same larger meaning over there that it does here, the point is they belong to the same generation.

The generation after them -- the ones who would be Generation X over here -- have shifted to put a more cultural and lifestyle spin on their jihad. Millennials are following their lead. They are ISIS and affiliated groups. They are much more puritanical, attacking icons, graven images from ancient civilizations, churches, and other cultural sites throughout the Middle East. In Paris, they attacked a concert hall, a sports stadium, and restaurants, cafes, and bars.

They were also planning to attack a shopping mall in Paris. They have already brought down one airliner, and have been planning to attack other airports. For the most part, people fly in order to vacation or pursue leisure, rather than for business and workplace reasons (unlike a daily commute on the subway).

In their propaganda, ISIS did refer to France's political and military role in bombing Syria, but they also heaped scorn on Paris for being the "capital of prostitution and obscenity" (other translations say "capital of abominations and perversion"), clearly more in line with their general focus on attacking leisure, lifestyle, and culture that they find religiously objectionable.

Their new threat against New York City does not point to the United Nations building, Wall Street, or any other political-economic power center. Rather they show Times Square, a hub of tourism, shopping, dining, theater-going -- and in the not-too-distant past, drug deals, prostitution, and pornography (although today there are topless women who you can take your picture with for a small donation). It's a lifestyle and leisure target.

Both Al-Qaeda and ISIS are fine with killing civilians, but the basis on which they are judged guilty is different: for Al-Qaeda, it's being complicit in the power structure, whereas for ISIS it's taking part in decadent culture and lifestyles. There is a strong dispute between the two groups about targeting, say, pedestrians in a cultural center of a city, with ISIS finding it perfectly legitimate, as they have begun to make abundantly clear.

I think this shift in the propaganda and practice of Islamic terrorists is going to profoundly change how Westerners, particularly those under 50, are going to react. Recall the generational difference in status contests, with the Silents and Boomers focusing on career, wealth, power, and influence, and the X-ers and Millennials focusing on lifestyles and personas.

When the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked on 9/11, people who are a part of the career-and-power contests would have felt a greater shock. To this day, it seems like Silents and Boomers are angrier about 9/11 than Gen X and Millennials are (not to say that the younger generations were not disturbed, just less so than the elders). Perhaps the same is true of the Madrid and London subway bombings (disrupting business-as-usual for commuters), and the Charlie Hebdo killings (attacking the fourth estate), but I'm not in Europe and couldn't say.

With the attacks on a concert hall, sports stadium, and nightlife spots -- on Friday night, no less, when everyone is going out to have fun -- the more lifestyle-focused X-ers and Millennials are going to feel like it's now their domain that is being attacked. No more shopping, no more traveling, no more dining on the outdoor patio, without feeling targeted. This is a level of free-floating anxiety that these generations did not feel when the targets were office buildings and military bases, which younger generations do not hold very near and dear to their hearts. Now that terrorists are targeting foodie spots and indie rock venues, it's a whole 'nother ball game.

Non-hipsters will not feel any safer in their lifestyles either, once ISIS begins to attack churches in the West like they have already been doing in the Middle East. Going to church on Sunday is a regular practice that falls under lifestyle, not something that connects one to the greater power structure.

Furthermore, the demographics of the new victims make them far more easy to relate to for X-ers and Millennials, especially white ones, than the victims of 9/11. The earlier victims were demographically diverse in age, class, and race. The new victims, at least judging from the pictures available, are much younger, whiter, and middle-class. They are probably also more liberal than the victims who worked in the WTC or the Pentagon. Their clothing and hairstyles are more hip. For that matter, there are loads more pictures of them from their social media accounts, which did not exist back in 2001.

All these differences mean that the lifestyle strivers, who are expressing solidarity with France in order to grab quasi-French cultural identity, are going to be less inhibited than earlier about Doing Something about the Islamic terrorist problem. Yet this will extend beyond those who are changing their Facebook profile picture, to anyone who values lifestyle and culture concerns over career and political concerns. If Islam, whether radical or mainstream, destroys Parisian culture, it would be akin to us dropping a nuke on Mecca.

This may make it easier than you'd think to get moderate young people to agree that Islam is not compatible with preserving the culture we treasure. The romance of Paris is not based on halal meat shops, burqas, and mosques -- but on wine, unveiled women, and Notre Dame cathedral. Once they agree, it's no great leap to conclude that Islam ought to be kept back where it belongs -- without needing to hate it, or to drop bombs on its adherents, but still needing to exist over there while we Christians and agnostics exist over here.

Such an approach also obviates the need to talk about whether Islam is inherently violent or peaceful. The terrorists of today are only a violent expression of the overall puritanical view of Muslims toward us, and their behaviors and practices in our societies. Even if they peacefully transformed Paris into New Baghdad, or London into New Karachi, it would be a profound loss to the lifestyles and culture that we cherish.

This strikes me as a much easier conversation to start and maintain, as opposed to talking about political, economic, and military matters like we did when the earlier terrorists attacked the institutions of the power structure. Not only is lifestyle-and-culture more what they orient their lives around, it's just more tangible than economics and politics. You can almost hear the nervous chatter among the shoppers at H&M:

"Having to wear a bullet-proof vest every time we go to Starbucks? I don't think so -- muzzies out!"


  1. Once they agree, it's no great leap to conclude that Islam ought to be kept back where it belongs -- without needing to hate it, or to drop bombs on its adherents,

    Regardless of the rhetoric about religion or values (Boomer talk, of course), the old guard (Western or Islamic) was and is all about fighting to have more and to have their way.

    Endless war so as to prove some point and/or attain more makes younger generations sick.

    But Silents are irresponsibly over invested in "making things right" (giving more opportunities for individuals of any ethnicity at the expense of the social fabric and well-being of any group of people) while Boomers never get tired of ego driven self-righteous belligerence ("How dare they attack us, we've gotta make things right by beating our enemies into submission").

    The solution, obvious to those born after the mid 60's who've dealt with immature and fractious elders from day one, is to simply implement measure which drastically reduce diversity and materialism.

    We've got to bring back harmony and team first ego reduction. Enough with the dissonance ("diversity") and vanity ("well, is it going to mean living in a smaller house?").

  2. Since you mentioned generations in Iraq, I thought it might be interesting to google "Iraq crime rate". The Iraqis are on a different cycle than we are, and crime has been rising there since 2009.

    Iraq’s security situation has greatly improved since the height of the sectarian war. Now Iraqis are facing a new danger, rising crime. In fact, the two issues are linked as many blame former insurgents and militiamen for carrying out kidnappings, robberies, etc., as they have no other means to support themselves. Members of the security forces have also been implicated, pointing to the high levels of every day corruption that exists in the country.

    Crime in Iraq takes many forms. One that is getting increasing press is kidnapping. Those occurred before, but they had political or sectarian overtones or were done to fund militant groups. Today they are increasingly for pure profit. As a sign of this change, children are becoming a favorite target. There are districts of Baghdad that are plastered with photos of missing kids. The Times of London reported in early October 2009 that the price for a kidnapped child can go as high as $100,000. Many families are said to negotiate with the criminals rather than go to the police."

  3. I've always said that the SJWs are going to be the new Reich's most brutal and dedicated stormtroopers. Once they feel personally threatened by the savages they've championed for so long, they'll do what rabbits always do -- flip sides, and crank their new allegiance way past 11. Today's blue-haired, nose-ringed, vegan, homoflexible slam poet is tomorrow's einsatzkommando.

  4. From -

    "What, exactly, does “political correctness” mean? In the 1980s and ‘90s, the term was a sarcastic reference to Maoist or Stalinist thought police, popularized largely by conservatives in order to deride the liberal-led orthodoxy. Detractors claimed that P.C. campaigns often went to absurd lengths, turning P.C. accusations into one more feature of the roiling culture wars waged among politicians and activists. These ideological debates continue today—and are still the first thing most Americans over age 40 associate with the term."

    Getting a bit slow, maybe a bit behind the times? I'm 30, most of the people on this blog are between 30-40. And we remember all too well how quickly PC infected everything as the 90's went on. It wasn't just a campus thing, or an adult thing. Frickin' Captain Planet (which debuted around 1991) was a cartoon about a global team of kids who fought pollution.

    I, and just about everyone I've ever heard talk about PC, defines PC as a rigid adherence to rhetoric and behavior that always puts pet liberal groups (blacks, women, gays, immigrants, enviro activists etc.) in the best possible light.

    And very late Gen X-ers/early Millennials seem to be nearly as hostile towards PC as very late Boomers and early Gen X-ers (who often have the best attitudes towards many things).

    "These requests are largely coming from college students who are bringing their concerns to faculty and often getting them enforced by administrators."

    Later period Millennials aren't doing much to better the situation, but Howe is a fool (or a typical Boomer careerist anxious to not offend his security) to deflect attention away from the fact that modern campuses (which function in a symbiosis with business/goverment sectors) have long been cultural Marxist to the core at every level.

    The Me Gen (which does everything on it's terms; they don't give a flying fuck about what Millennial teens think or want) has, at nearly every turn, proven more than willing to form the tip of the spear that has been thrust again and again into the back of Western civilization.

    When Trump dares to stand against this, what has the whore ridden media/government/business establishment done in response? Demonize him as a shameless opportunist giving red meat to bitter rednecks.

    The Me Gen doesn't want to acknowledge the fact that many young people are in fact, less than cheerful about an oh-so diverse future. Middle aged and elderly strivers have consistently stressed the "need" to appreciate diversity (more profits, more individualism!). Not knowing that Gen X-ers and Millennials have other concerns besides climbing over the horde and planting your personal flag atop it.

    Howe also consistently repeats propaganda about (some) Boomers being ardent conservatives. Conservative, how? In the 80's, they became harder on certain things (like gays and criminals) primarily so as to defend the children that the Boomers began having in the 80's. But this wasn't Eisenhower era conservatism; Boomers have always been firmly against mid century style expansive/strong government, to the point that Boomers like Howe think that hatred of the government is an inherently conservative value. Hyper individualism and weak institutions, prior to the 70's, was not regarded as conservative. The majority of Americans considered such things toxic to a civil society, in fact.

    Arrogant and deluded Boomers (for the most part) simply have no conception of what it means to be modest and effective stewards. It's not conservative to be combative, crass, cocky, glib, and narcissistic.

  5. Boomers are libertarian, not conservative. If they're careerists, they emphasize tax cuts; if they're lifestyle types, then legalizing pot, sodomy, etc.

    Neither side wants to expand welfare, labor unions, state control over industry, or any other liberal platform. Hence the dissatisfaction among late X-ers and especially Millennials, who are going to wind up more liberal than libertarian.

    And if Trump weren't kicking their asses, Boomer Republicans wouldn't be for sealing the borders, homogenizing the demographics, shooting traitors, or anything else that would conserve American culture and society.

  6. "They are much more puritanical, attacking icons, graven images from ancient civilizations, churches, and other cultural sites throughout the Middle East"
    Islamists have been doing that for a long time. The Taliban destroying those Buddhist statues being a famous example, but Saudi Arabia has been destroying/rebuilding a lot of historical sites in Mecca as well.

  7. "The Iraqis are on a different cycle than we are, and crime has been rising there since 2009."

    There's been a fertility boom in select areas of the Middle East over the past 10 - 15 - 20 years, depending on the country. Bump in the age pyramid means higher crime rates, excess of young males with no prospects, etc., feeding the growth of ISIS and similar groups.

    The places where there's no fertility boom do not show soaring violence -- Jordan, UAE, maybe a few others that I'm forgetting.

  8. "I've always said that the SJWs are going to be the new Reich's most brutal and dedicated stormtroopers."

    I'm not talking about SJWs so much -- they're a very small group, and not the ones preening with the French flag filter on Facebook. I'm talking more about the middle-class cultural lifestyle strivers -- the foodies, the cosmopolitan travelers, and so on.

    I don't see them flipping into neo-Nazis, just letting some common sense wash over their brain and say, "Y'know, it doesn't seem right, and I hate to have to do it, but we have to culturally separate from the Muslims." Basically, being the good cop who acquiesces to the bad cop who gets the Muslims to return to their homelands.

    SJWs and gay neo-Nazis are equally worthless in restoring order and togetherness.

  9. "There's been a fertility boom in select areas of the Middle East over the past 10 - 15 - 20 years, depending on the country. "

    Interesting, so the crime rate is linked to fertility and a younger poplulation. Is outgoingness too? Though maybe its only loosely linked to fertlility, because I recall you saying that Australia(has an extreme aging population) is also experiencing a rising crime rate and an outgoing culture.

    I don't like the thought that cocooning is a natural cycle that will plague humanity forever. It seems more like a temporary disease, that's been recurrent throughtout human history, but that we can beat permanently. The culture should always be outgoing. Whereas, fertility seems much more like something that operates in cycles.

  10. "I'm not talking about SJWs so much -- they're a very small group, and not the ones preening with the French flag filter on Facebook."

    True enough, but what are SJWs but paladin-level "middle-class cultural lifestyle strivers"? They've gone all in on the persona creation contests you described a few posts ago. The difference between them and typical foodie hipsters is one of degree, not kind.... and the SJWs are the pace-setters.

    There are probably lots of foodie hipsters who would be bothered by Islamic savagery if they ever stopped to give it a thought. But they know that's verboten, because the SJWs who travel on the fringes of all their social circles would go apeshit at the first whiff of badthink. So they don't. But once the SJWs flip, it will be acceptable -- mandatory, in fact -- to scream and yell about putting Muzzies in camps, and as we know, the acquiescence of the many is what enables the radical few to do what they do.

  11. You can't be against brown-skinned terrorism until you can stand up for free speech. But when it comes to free speech, millenials suck.

  12. I saw that Pew study and checked it against the General Social Survey. It shows the Millennials being bad on free speech for racists, although there's a decline already with late X-ers. However, the Silents are also less in favor of free speech, and the Greatest Gen even less, whereas the Pew survey showed the Silents being the most supportive of free speech.

    Perhaps it has to do with the wording about the "government" being able to suppress such speech, while the GSS leaves it open-ended about who or what would be the suppressor -- it just says do you think such a person ought to be allowed to speak.

  13. The basic pattern over generations was low support among those born circa 1890, and rising steadily toward a peak of those born circa 1950 or 1960, then a gentle decline with the X-ers, and lowest among Millennials.

    That basic rise-and-fall pattern holds from the mid-1970s to the mid-2010s, so it's not an age-based thing. It's a cohort-based thing. Not affected by racial composition either (whites alone, all races, etc.).

    When does a person's views on free speech form? Around 20, I guess. Nobody in high school had much of an opinion, but maybe as early as 15, as late as 25. So, let's just say 20.

    Then starting with folks who turned 20 in 1920, and peaking with those who turned 20 in 1970 or '80, there was growing support for free speech. Those who turned 20 in '90 and after show steadily falling support.

    That would link growing support for free speech with the Great Compression, and wariness of free speech toward the Gilded Age / status-striving trend since the '80s. Suppression of free speech would seem to fit easily with the status-striving norms of trying to one-up your rivals at any cost, while the accommodation norms of the Great Compression allowed everyone to voice their opinions.

  14. Although it's worth adding that the content and tone are not the same in a status-striving climate vs. a getting-along climate.

    So perhaps there's growing support for free speech in an increasingly egalitarian climate because folks realize that no one is going to get really nasty, antagonistic, or anything else that might risk an escalation toward open conflict and civil war. Whereas when folks start sensing the growing competitiveness, they realize that unfettered free speech would allow an escalation of words toward civil war, and are more wary.

    But in general the norms in a striving climate are laissez-faire and not very concerned with group harmony, so it'd be a stretch for the anti-free speech sentiment to be construed as trying to contain disorder in an increasingly volatile climate.

    It probably is due, instead, to people not wanting their competitors to enjoy free speech -- notice that the Black Lives Matter crowd doesn't want to clamp down on racist views of blacks in the interest of not offending whites, and having us all get along.

  15. Also, the regional differences are not what you'd think. Not allowing free speech for racists is most popular in the south and the Texas area, highest out West and back East (the liberal / libertarian regions).

    It's part of the overall support for free speech (regardless of whether the speaker is a racist, socialist, atheist, etc.), which conservatives are more wary of.

  16. The anti-free speech phrase "love it or leave it" first became popularized during during the late 60s and early 70s, in reference during the Vietnam War, when inequality also began rising(more in the early 70s). It became more popular in the 70s with rock musicians like Merle Haggard and Ernest Tubb used it in their songs, and it was shouted by construction workers in a 1970 protest.

    That said, it certainly seems like support or opposition to free speech would also correlate with cocooning vs. outgoingness. For instance, Nazi Germany was a cocooning society(albeit, also egalitarian), and those people don't seem like they would have supported free speech in any form.

  17. We're sort of in a mass psychosis (particularly liberal whites, wait isn't that redundant at this point?) regarding racial issues.

    No matter how much of a complete failure integration (and other forms of grievance amelioration) has been, it's become of greater and greater importance to drill into impressionable young brains that we mustn't do anything to lend credibility to racial separatists.

    Obviously, that includes not giving un-PC types the dignity of speaking their minds without fear of reprisals.

    Given how quickly this accelerated in the 90's, I think it's a safe bet that cocooning has at least something to do with PC. The most cocooned generation is the most PC. But then, why would equally cocooned Silents be less against free speech? Perhaps because Silents have tended to be very devoted to individual rights and "fairness" (though the climate has turned harsher on their watch).

    (relatively) Team-oriented generations (like G.I.s and Millennials) aren't quite as spooked by the concept of limiting certain rights. You'd expect G.I.s to be a bit less prissy about things, though, considering that they grew up in an outgoing period.

    So cocooning+non individualistic generation = less regard for speech rights.

    Gen X-ers aren't as individualistic as Silents or as petulant as Boomers, but they do tend to be wary of elaborate systems of decorum and conduct. So it's not surprising that early ones in particular (who grew up in a more outgoing period) find speech laws annoying.

    X-ers have their own idiosyncratic code of honor and they don't think some remote body ought to be lecturing them about hurting someone's feelings. Fighting man generations are more comfortable with agreeing to a concrete set of rules regarding all forms of conduct established by the "system".

    I'm sure that grouping G.i.s and Millennials together will chafe some readers, but where else do Millennials fit? I do think generation's are cyclical, but also are heavily shaped by cocooning and equality cycles. Most G.I.s grew up mostly in an outgoing period where steps were being taken to clean things up. It looks like vice clean-up will take shape well after Millennials come of age, unfortunately. Cocooning will most likely abate in a few years, though.

  18. "The anti-free speech phrase "love it or leave it" first became popularized during during the late 60s and early 70s, in reference during the Vietnam War, when inequality also began rising(more in the early 70s)."

    Good point, the Silent artists you mentioned represented how Silents were growing weary of playing nice. It was a turbulent time in general. Middle aged Silents were anxious to forge their own identity (whether G.I.s or Losts approved) while Boomers were raising hell. Things were constantly framed as generational, moral, racial, and and regional matters of warfare.

    Note that class was basically irrelevant; the middle class was enormous from the 40's-mid 70's. To this day, Silents and early Boomers have no concern for the welfare of the poor (or the greed of the rich), since that was a non-issue during the 40's-70's. If anything, the ease of "making it" during that period was such that Silents and early Boomers have contempt for those who can't keep their head above water. Gen X-ers and Millennials aren't so harsh since life has been a bitch to them all along. So we have greater empathy.


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