My Life is a Weapon
With the semester finished I've been finishing up books I started & never quite got to the end of. One of them is My Life is a Weapon by Christopher Reuter, a book about the history & reality of suicide bombers. Though the main goal of the book is to dispel some of the western myths about the motivations & status of those who choose to be suicide bombers if you generally read your news rather than pick it up from Leno none of it will come as much of a surprise: for instance, in the Middle East suicide bombers tend to be more educated & slightly wealthier than the average Palestinian.
This subject is so fascinating to me, the pernicious inversion of social norms of interaction. The ordinary becomes dangerous. The more ordinary, the more dangerous. The idea of someone walking onto a bus & detonating collapses a stable use of public space. It requires the kind of control of space that escalates the motivations of the bombers. Reuter's ultiamte assessment is that these attacks will continue as long as Palestinians & Tamils are controlled, made to feel that their lives have less meaning than their deaths & that no intervention will cease them. It's an assessment I agree with, but the heart of Reuters book is not political, but journalistic. He meets people involved in the bombings in various ways & tries to report back about them as people, rather than concepts.
What is also fascinating is that a culture of celebration of these acts solidified so quickly. Reuter's journalistic approach to the families of the bombers helped to show how they negotiate this. The parents of Palestinian bombers in particular seemed to be at the centers of strange vortexes of the celebration of death & individual emotion. While their children are being publicly lauded, the parents naturally grieve & yet also participate in the beatifying justification for their children's actions. To reject the act as pointless would be an ultimate rejection of the child. As one of the fathers states, how else can they act except to glorify his child's act. What other emotional avenues are there?