Terror in the Mind of God by Mark Juergensmeyer Essay
What are the main ideas/arguments put forth by Mark Juergensmeyer in his Terror in the mind of god? How does the author support his claims?
The author is trying to the argument as to why the frequency of acts of terrorism has been on the rise in recent years. In this case, 22 airliners have been bombed in the last decade (Juergensmeyer 36). The writer suggests that there might be a loosening of social controls that have been responsible for such acts of violence. The authors’ main idea is that there must be a reason as to why religion and violence have reemerged in recent years (Juergensmeyer 35). This can be explained by the fact that there have been various attacks that can be termed as exaggerated violence (Hoffman 17). For instance, the attack on the Pentagon and African embassies is just but an example.
In a broad perspective, the author is trying to argue that most of these attacks are symbolic because of the nature in which they are carried out. For instance, the World Trade Center attack is a dramatic illustration of what the terrorists wanted to achieve (Juergensmeyer 31). There is an argument that one single death can be used to portray out the force of terrorism. In this case, the slaughtering of Ostro was meant to send out a message to different people (Juergensmeyer 12). Terrorists have always ensured that they target places that have a lot of people. A perfect example is the World Trade Center and the Tel Aviv shopping centers (Juergensmeyer 47).
What is the historical/social/economic setting with which the author is concerned?
The author is mostly concerned with the frequency of religious terrorism that has been witnessed in recent years. It is because most of these attacks have come up as dramatic displays (Juergensmeyer 41). The bombing of the Air India Jumbo was done far away from home, but the county felt that it had been targeted. A historical link can be explained with such terrorist acts based on the World Trade center (Juergensmeyer 25). In this case, there was an attack in 1993 and 2001. It should be known that most of these attacks are constructed events (Juergensmeyer 24). This means that they are done over some time and should therefore be a major concern.
As far as the social setting is concerned, these acts surpass the wounds that they inflict on society (Juergensmeyer 35). Such acts are intended to create fear in people about their society’s framework. For instance, the bombing of abortion clinics by pro-life activists was meant to pass a message to society (Chaliand 25). It should be known that acts of violence mean several things to people who witness them. A perfect example is the slaughtering of Ostro and displaying his carcass in an inhuman manner (Juergensmeyer 24).
The author is concerned with the economic impact that such acts of violence have had on society. In this case, Al Qaeda chose the World Trade Center because of its significance to the United States (Juergensmeyer 24). It should be known that the center housed a lot of financial corporations and international businesses (Juergensmeyer 32). Therefore, such acts of terrorism are meant to portray an image that American civic order and power have been undermined. Air traffic indicates a society’s economic might and that is why airplanes have been a good stage for terrorists. An example is Yousef who has planned to bomb 11 passenger airlines (Juergensmeyer 42).
How is the text relevant to contemporary issues?
The text is relevant to contemporary issues in a broadway. This is because terrorist groups have targeted the lifeblood of our society as time goes by. When 3,000 people were killed in the World Trade Center, the whole world was touched (Juergensmeyer 43). Most of these attacks have been symbolic because of the locations that have been targeted and therefore the power and stability of our society have been shaken. Buildings like the Pentagon had a great symbolic meaning to society and that is why they were targeted (Juergensmeyer 27). Movements that have been responsible for such acts of terrorism have touched everyone in society through violence. The tourist hotels and boats that were bombed in Egypt were being regarded as impositions (Juergensmeyer 44).
In a broad perspective, the text is relevant because there have been various underlying reasons behind such terrorist attacks (Juergensmeyer 64). As much as terrorist activities discredit governments, they should not warrant the destruction that they cause to society as a whole (Stern 36). Some terrorist activities have not provided the strategic value that they were intended to. For instance, the release of nerve gas in Tokyo did not end up providing the political benefits that the perpetrators had hoped to achieve (Juergensmeyer 22).
Why is the text relevant to Peace and Conflict Studies?
This text is relevant to peace and conflict studies because of the whole aspect of religious terrorism. Terrorism is a wide and important topic that resonates well with peace and conflict studies and that is why this text gives us an overview of various aspects that need to be understood. Various catastrophic attacks like the Pentagon, Oklahoma, and Jewish resorts in Kenya can help us to understand this (Juergensmeyer 52). Acts of violence have led to a lot of destruction in our society. In this case, thousands perished in the World trade center (Juergensmeyer 63).
Society can not be peaceful with such acts of violence and that is why terrorism needs to be given a new approach (Juergensmeyer 35). In this case, it is difficult to understand why an innocent Catholic man was killed by protestant communities (Juergensmeyer 73). Most people who have been responsible for terrorist activities have ended up as heroes (Stern 47). Acts like the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin have a lot of impacts on society and they might lead to conflicts (Juergensmeyer 38). This, therefore, explains why the text is relevant to peace and conflict studies.
Chaliand, Gerard. The History of Terrorism: from Antiquity to al Qaeda. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. Print.
Hoffman, Bruce. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988. Print.
Juergensmeyer, Mark. Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence. California: University of California Press, 2003. Print.
Stern, Jessica. Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill. New York: Harper Perennial, 2004. Print.