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Why People Keep Saying, “That’s What the Terrorists Want”

On September 11, 2001, I was enjoying the tail end of my summer holiday with family in Connecticut. Over the past year, I had been studying Osama bin Laden’s enigmatic fatwas as a graduate student at Oxford. At the time, al-Qaeda was not well known, so I was surprised to find that in the climate of paralyzing fear after the attacks, everyone around me professed to know exactly why this group had struck the United States.

A local soccer coach defiantly told me that practice was still on because keeping his team of eight-year olds cooped up indoors in fear is exactly what al-Qaeda secretly wanted. A cab driver told me he was going to keep taking customers from the train station because taking a few days off from work to grieve is exactly what al-Qaeda wanted.

But for the life of me, I couldn’t recall anything in bin Laden’s fatwas about playing soccer or driving cabs.

h/t XX

  • Norman_In_New_York

    The talking heads project their own psychoses onto the heads of ISIS.

    • Alain


  • Martin B

    Correspondent inference theory is nice and all, but whenever the people want Mohammedan invaders out of their country, mosques out of their neighbourhoods, and talking trash bags out of their citizenship ceremonies, they can always count on pontificating pundits & politicians popping up on their TV screens to tell them “that’s what the terrorists want”, and that’s because the pundits, politicians and terrorists are all on the same side, against the people.

  • Minicapt

    When writing for a Harvard publication, nonsense is the product, and silliness a power tool.


  • Alain

    Of course people must completely ignore that terrorism is just one of many strategies by Muslims in their war against the nonMuslim world.