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Bad tree with bad roots, never bore no good fruits

James Lileks, whose “Gallery of Regrettable Food” has amused us all at one time or another, apparently has a line in unthinking political commentary. Fair enough; I certainly wouldn’t want to risk the blowback from saying that people should be castigated for that. But today, he’s thrown down a challenge, and that’s something I can never resist.

If it is Islamic terrorism, it will be delightful to watch the root-causers explain this one

As far as I can tell, “root-causers” refers to people whose reaction to the news that someone is trying to kill them does not include immediately shutting off all thought about why that might be the case. Since I’m not stupid, or even usually suicidal, I suppose that means that I’m a root-causer, and James Lileks will be delighted to watch me explain it. Which is good, because I was delighted with his collection of recipes for cooking with 7-Up from the 1950s, so it’s sort of an opportunity to do something in return.

Here goes, the “root cause” explanation of the Washington sniper shootings, if they turn out to be Islamic terrorism, and if they turn out to be the work of the guy mentioned in the news reports. If not, I calculate that I am approximately 603rd in line among webloggers to make an apology.

The US Army, like the British Army and most other armies, does a reprehensibly bad job of looking after its people. It recruits them, largely from broken homes, keeps them on low wages for a short while, all the while making it unconscionably difficult for them to get or stay married, and then dumps them back on the labour market with surprisingly few marketable skills to show for several years of their life. It has various programs to deal with this problem, but, judging by the results, those programs are badly administered. As Norman Dixon pointed out in his classic “On the Psychology of Military Incompetence”, western armies systematically attract people with psychological problems with respect to violence, provide them with a means of coping with these problems while they are in service and often reinforce personality traits through training which can prove to be disastrous when these people are put under stress.

The American economy is very bad at providing steady jobs for black men with low educational qualifications. The American economy has many strengths, but this is not one of them.

American culture strongly stigmatises young male unemployment, and makes young unemployed people feel ashamed of themselves. People who feel shame often develop a psychological self-defence mechanism which involves blaming others for their predicament.

The Muslim religion has almost exclusively nonwhite figureheads, and as a result has a magnetic effect on black Americans who have developed a grudge against what they see as a white-dominated synstem which has pushed them to the bottom of the heap.

Because of this, particularly at a time when the national mood is more than slightly conducive to paranoia, a black man with psychological problems and a military background decided to follow the figurehead of Osama Bin Laden and murder people in order to support the cause of Islamic terrorism.

There are the root causes. Delighted?

You may note that the vast majority of these root causes have nothing to do with anything outside America.

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