There is nothing new about calling terrorists evil and it is also true they would probably relish being called “monsters”.  Calling terrorists “losers” in the wake of the Manchester bombing seems, on the surface, to be petty and juvenile. It’s like a big bully taunting a bunch of smaller bullies on a playground.  In the end, however,  this may be an insightful and useful strategy for combating terrorism.

Terrorism is the direct result of dichotomous thinking. Its perpetrators are among the most small-minded people on the planet and that is not going to change any time soon.  The dichotomy they are most deeply concerned with is, of course, the good/evil dichotomy.  Any hope of convincing them that THEY are evil is futile. To them, nothing is more evil than tolerance and other aspects of the modern world.

The only reason a determined terrorist would forgot a terrorist act is the realization that terrorism is an ineffective strategy when the goals are promoting Allah’s Will on earth, diminishing support for Israel or decreasing western involvement in the Middle East. This would require transcending the good/evil dichotomy and embracing the useful/useless dichotomy.  The reason terrorism remains such a difficulty problem is because there is no motivation for terrorist to make this transition. The useful/useless dichotomy assumes some understanding of the goals one is aiming to achieve which is not something the average terrorist has likely given much serious thought.

Calling terrorists losers could be the first step in promoting this transition. The win/lose dichotomy is a favourite of the small-minded.  Unlike the good/evil dichotomy which is purely subjective, the win/lose dichotomy can be tied directly to the stated goals. In the end there is no doubt terrorism is in direct contradiction to Islamic law and leads to more support for Israel and greater western involvement in the Middle East. If the world were united in calling them losers, there is a chance some would-be terrorists may start asking the question we all want to see them ask, “What will this really accomplish?”

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