The late 1960’s and early 1970’s were a period of radicalist chic in universities of the United States with an anarchist fringe developing out of eastern and Midwestern universities from the radical group, Students for a Democratic Society. Anarchists with violent cast accumulated in organizations such as the Weathermen Underground in New York and Chicago and the Karleton Armstrong gang at the University of Wisconsin resulting in bombings and deaths. The fractured logic of the extremists was the logic of all anarchists, destruction of society’s stable fabric in order to foment revolution.
England appears to be suffering under a similar period of anarchist proliferation and the embryonic center appears to be the obscure Bedfordshire University in Luton, England north of the metropolis of London. This time the radicalist mantra is islamic extremism, and its anarchist tendencies are becoming every bit as violent and dangerous as the American version. With Great Britain’s role in the response to 9/11 and its history as a colonialist overlord in the near East and Central Asia in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was particularly vulnerable to internalized hatred and feelings of victimhood from a Muslim immigrant population absorbed at the time of the collapse of empire, and the peculiar tendencies of this immigrant culture to resist any absorption in British society and its cultural mores. At the same time, England in particular has lost passion for its “britishness” in a global world it no longer leads and barely influences.
In Sweden, this past week a radicalized former British university student blew himself and several other people up in an effort to create mass death as a suicide bomber, luckily detonating before he achieved a position in the midst of a significant crowd of people. The biography was eerily similar to the London subway bombers of 2005, british students of muslim faith radicalized at mosques associated with the university in Luton who murdered 52 people in what has been referred to as Great Britain’s 7/7. Radical cells have been permitted in England to proliferate around places of learning as an expression of British “cultural tolerance” and the penalty for the world has been a parade of anarchist bombers, starting with Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber” in 2001, through multiple successful and near successful plots, to this most recent event., effecting multiple countries and providing energy and willing dupes for Al Qaeda’s necrophilic and anarchistic philosophy.
The parents of the most recent bomber in Sweden blame the british model of educational “tolerance”for allowing young men to become brainwashed by radical clerics protected by their proximity to institutions of higher learning. The colleges provide easy fodder for the clerics in vulnerable young Muslim males who feel dissociated from their roots, and are looking for any direction and clarity. the pattern is repeated over and over,; radicalization in the mosque, training in Afghanistan camps, return as willing participants in the Al Qaeda’s war against civilization and Muslim moderation. A significant national conversation has to be held in Great Britain in how to balance religious tolerance without permitting what has become a progressive cancer on free society.
Bedfordshire University in Luton, England might be a very good place to start, and maybe end, that conversation.