For Crying Out Loud

Dalrymple notices something telling in the response of many to the Paris attacks. One example:

The mother of two of the Paris terrorists, one of whom was a suicide bomber, demonstrated how far she had assimilated to contemporary Western culture from her native Algerian, and how well she understood it, when she said that she was sure that the son who blew himself up with explosives in his vest did not intend to kill anyone and acted in the way he did only because of stress. This combines two important modern tropes: that stress excuses all, and that irrespective of someone’s actual conduct, however terrible it may be, there subsists within him a core of goodness that is more real than the superficial badness, such as taking part in mass murder.

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