Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What Is “Resilience” and Why Is It the Cure for Jihadi Youth?

(Here's my latest for The Megaphone.)

Why is it that some young people are susceptible to the siren call of jihad while others are not? That's a question that's engaging a slew of experts, two of whom share their "insights" with us in an Op-Ed piece in the National Post. Michael Ungar and Amaranth Amarasingam claim that the way to go is by studying and implementing "resilience."

What the heck is that?

Well, apparently, "resilience" is the au courant buzzword certain "experts" use when they want to explore the roots of radicalization without having to delve too deeply - or, indeed, at all - in all that messy jihad/Islamic supremacism stuff. In so doing, they can set up the problem in such a way as to absolve Islamic theology and those who purvey it, and proffer a specific "cure" - inculcating "resilience" in young people - that is bound to keep these "experts" employed and in great demand for the foreseeable future.

Thus, we have Ungar, "founder and co-director of the Resilience Research Centre" and Amarsingam, a "post-doctoral fellow in the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University" explaining that "radicalization" does not only occur in Muslim communities even though "it is Muslim communities that endure the most pressure and blame."

Poor Muslims! Good thing they have Ungar and Amarsingam to ease their burden and salve their pain. Oh, not by studying the whys and hows of the recruitment of holy warriors. That would be far too specific, and would only exacerbate the "pressure and blame." No, the way ahead, according to these two authorities, is to ignore "the handful of youth who have become radicalized" and focus instead on "the resilience of youth who choose a peaceful path."

And lest you think that that's sort of like researching, say, schizophrenia by focusing on the majority who don't have the disease, these "resilience" experts are here to set you straight. You see, if only we can figure out why most (generic) youth do not choose (generic) "political violence," we will be that much further ahead in preventing those who are susceptible to (generic) "political violence" from embracing it. "We need to study how they find non-violent ways to have a political voice and fight for what they believe in," they write.

No we don't. We need to understand the jihad and why some young Muslims continue to find it so gosh-darned attractive. Until and unless we do that - until we man up and acknowledge the role Islamic holy writ plays in this "political violence" - our efforts to counter this type of "political violence" (pace the "resilience" buffs, the only type that really threatens us) will be doomed to fail.

As for the newly-minted "resilience" industry, a sector intent on making a living by suggesting feckless remedies to problems it cannot bring itself to correctly identify - if this Op-Ed piece is any indication, the industry may yet prove to be incredibly resilient.

1 comment:

Frances said...

Sounds rather like the social workers, back in the day, who were saying that those who transcended bad backgrounds probably had serious issues. My take: their "serious issues" involved not having to utilize the services of said social workers.