Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One Graduate's Koo Koo Ka Choo is Another's Allahu Akbar

Remember Benjamin Braddock? Sure you do. He's the character with the WASP name the decidedly non-WASP Dustin Hoffman played in the Mike Nichols-directed movie The Graduate. Ben, as you'll recall was down in the dumps after completing university, suffering from a really bad case of angst/ennui/self-loathing, and uncertain of how to best get on with his life. To that end, he donned scuba gear and spent some cheerless time at the bottom of his parents' pool. He went on to have a cheerless affair with his parents' friend, Mrs. Robinson, decided not to go into "plastics" (wow, like that's such a heavy word, man), and (spoiler alert) ended up getting Elaine, Mrs. Robinson's daughter (played by the gorgeous Katherine Ross, she of the long, dark locks and the adorable retrouss√© nose) to ditch her finace, Waspy Wasperson (he of the blonde hair and the thick neck, i.e. the antithesis of Dustin), at the altar, and run off with him.

Anyway, the reason I mention The Graduate, 40 something-year-old movie, is that I wondered what Ben Braddock might have gotten up to had his name been, say, Asad Ansari? One of the last of the Toronto 18, the group of ambitious jihadi laddies with a grandiose dream to unleash havoc in the true north, Ansari, like Ben, found himself at loose ends after college, lost, confused and depressed.  But because he was neither WASP, not Jewish, but Muslim, let's just say he had other options available to him, as the Ceeb reports:
...In court, Ansari described himself at the time of al-Qaeda's Sept. 11 attacks against the United States as a typical young Muslim man, suddenly having to look for answers.

On the one hand, Ansari testified, he saw himself as a Canadian who believed in democracy and also believed that the Muslim world could learn a lot from the West.

On the other hand, he said, after Sept. 11 there was a palpable feeling among Muslims the world over that Western societies viewed all Muslims with suspicion. He said he and other young men like him suddenly began to question where they fit into the world.

At one point, after his banker fathered revealed he could not afford to send Ansari to university because he had lost a lot of the family's money in bad investments, Ansari testified that he seriously considered suicide.

In draft suicide notes to his mother, father and younger sister, he made references to "dying for the sake of Allah."

One of the options he considered but quickly discarded was volunteering to fight with the Islamist insurgency in Iraq, he told the court.

Ansari also testified he considered non-political options such as drowning or hanging himself.

Even after leaving thoughts of suicide behind, Ansari said, with his dream of earning a degree in computer science at Waterloo University shattered, he went into a long depression and felt like "a loser."...
Poor guy. Like Benjamin, he probably should have gone into plastics--the non-explosive kind, that is--after all. On the other hand, think of how differently the Hoffman flick would have turned out had Ben "reverted," come under the influence of a radical imam and gone searching for his own personal harem of 72 heavenly Elaines.

No comments: