An honest intellectual


Caleb Carr is a talented novelist, whose first delightful book, The Alienist, presented social and intellectual history in the guise of a thriller. I think that I remember seeing indications in the press that he was more—or—less politically acceptable in the lefty New York literary culture wherein he dwelled.

No longer. Carr has written a slightly florid piece in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) arguing that in dealing with Islamist terror

the underlying psychological principles involved in investigating such crimes remain the same as they would were we studying a mass— or serial—murder case

So far, so good. The left has generally bought into the line that terrorism is a crime not a war, and is also keen on explanations requiring a sympathetic understanding of mental disabilities. But Carr extends the analysis to the sociopathology of the underlying culture producing and supporting terror bombers.

And this is where Carr intellectually pivots, and begins discussing how to deal with a sociopath. Which leads him to politically incorrect conclusions:

Al Qaeda and terrorist groups in general have tended to press their campaigns of violence against civilians in areas where they have sensed disunity and a lack of forceful opposition. In the manner of clinical sociopaths, they seem to "smell fear" —— and to find in it, not any inspiration to show mercy or accept accommodation, but a compulsion to torment all the more vigorously those who exude it.....

And this:

the trigger for the London bombings was far less the presence of British troops in Iraq, and far more the media circus that surrounded protestors outside the G—8 summit, as well as the utterances of musical and other celebrities during the "Live 8" performances in support of an end to world hunger, many of whom allowed their declarations to bleed over from understandable economic and political sentiments into dangerously blatant statements of opposition to the Iraq war, the global war on terrorism, and the U.S. generally

Give the man credit. Another convert to reality.

Thomas Lifson   7 19 05