SUICIDE-BOMBING AS ALTRUISM?? That’s a new “<a href = http

// target = _blank>theory” on the motivations of suicide bombers. Read the piece detailing the study and see if you can find a distinction between martyrdom – which kills only oneself – and suicide-bombing, which, of course, kills others. Money quote:

[S]o long as group mentality motivates the suicide, it is still altruistic, Pedahzur and his colleagues claim. They claim individuals who kill themselves in search of ‘a lofty and glorious place for themselves’ fall into a different but closely related category x97 ‘acute altruistic suicide.’

Acute altruistic suicide ‘stems from a strong religious conviction in the glorious destiny which awaits the perpetrator in the afterlife,’ Pedahzur said. ‘With a serene conviction derived from the feeling of duty accomplished, this person is carried to his death in a burst of faith and enthusiasm.’

Faith alone, however, does not a terrorist make, Ginges cautioned. ‘I found personal devotion to and belief in Islam unrelated to support for terrorism,’ he said. Religious organizations find it easier to generate support for terrorism not because of their beliefs but rather ‘because of the link between collective rituals and altruism,’ Ginges said.

It seems to me that if Islamic fascists wanted merely to blow themselves up, few of us would object. In fact, it might be worth encouraging. Win-win: they go to “heaven”, we get to ride the subway in peace. But these people are mass-murderers. I guess it takes an academic to see that as altruism.


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