Of guns, guts, and glory: Why culture counts
At the end of the Ruwandan Civil War (1990-1994), the Hutu (bad guys) invaded the neighboring Republic of the Congo where the well-armed Hutu raped and pillaged the unarmed people of Balamkika. Even the normally moribund U.N. denounced the Hutu for their genocide of the Tutsi in Ruwada and for raping the women of Balamkika.
The young men of Balamkika wanted to defend their women and children; however, their machetes were no match for the Hutuís AK-47s and RPGs. Just when it looked like the Hutus would wipe out the peaceful people of Balamkika, a highly charismatic "witch doctor" had a vision that he would devise a ritual that would bullet-proof any who truly believed in the ritual.
Could three-days of mumbo-jumbo ritual produce bullet-proof warriors? Of course, not. But hundreds of young men were deluded into believing that they were bullet-proof. Instead of fleeing from the next Hutu attack, the "bullet-proofed" warriors fought back. Many died; however, as a result of their "useful delusion," dozens of Hutu AK-47s and RPGs were captured. Faced with armed resistance, the Hutu left the people of Balamkika to live in peace. Obviously, there is a lesson her
The State of Colorado has some of the strictest gun-control restrictions in the nation. Even so, a well-armed, armor-vested, Muslim convert to ISIS from nearby Arvada murdered ten innocent people, including a heroic police officer who, all alone, tried to stop the massacre of unarmed Boulderites.
But the real question is not about guns. The real question is what kind of "witch doctor" does it take to radicalize a supposedly peaceful Muslim-Syrian-American and convince him to join the "cause" of a movement that routinely burns alive or beheads "non-believers?"
ISIS trolls social media for impressionable youth who feel "marginalized" where they live and crave to be respected members of a "nation-state." A nation-state with borders, its own flag, rituals, customs, and even the "pageantry" of formalized, public beheadings or burnings of infidels. (While President Trumpís rules-of-engagement allowed our troops to wipe out the ISIS land holdings in northern Syria and northwest Iraq, ISIS still combs the Internet for recruits.)
Studies show many ISIS recruits are not particularly religious, come from middle-class families, and are sometimes white. A key motivation is the desire to belong to something larger than themselves.
Those who have shed sweat and blood in our Armed Forces know that feeling. The swelling of pride that comes from saluting the Flag, singing our National Anthem, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance. The willingness to lay down oneís life for brothers-in-arms. Maybe all that is "delusion" but, if so, it has been enormously useful in forging the culture of what, until 2000, was thought to be the greatest nation on earth.
For many, the opening ceremony of an NFL game was as thrilling as the game itself. Unfortunately, the "cancel culture" movement took that satisfaction away. Many patriots no longer watch the NFL.
But as the Socialist/Marxist agenda of the Harris-Biden Regency* unfolds, there may come a time when Americaís increasingly "marginalized" Middle Class/Working Class may say "enough is enough!" Hopefully, at the ballot box.
Suggested reading: Useful Delusions: The Power & Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain by Shankar Vedantam and Bill Mesler (2021).
©2021. William Hamilton.