So, one thing everybody's always on about when it comes to Muslim terrorism and terrorists is just how many of the guys that get radicalized are educated, middle-class people. The consensus seems to be, basically, wtf?
I think the underlying assumption is that educated folks should be harder to radicalize because they aren't dirt-poor and, as such, have so much more to lose. I mean, here are guys whose families have enough money to send them overseas to Europe or the United States to study useful professions (engineers seem to be especially well-represented among radicalized Muslims), who get to spend time in the West, in our generally freer, more tolerant atmosphere, while they're being educated, and who come out the other end with valuable job skills. All of which would seem to gravitate away from radicalization (after all, radicals are typically drawn from the ranks of those with little or nothing to lose).
But here's the kicker. These guys, many of them young, return home with their degrees to countries that just don't have any jobs for them. So here they are, young and ready to work, with an education they can't use because their economies are lacking in opportunity, and they get frustrated.
What's worse, and this is, I think, the crux of the matter, is that because they can't find work, they can't get married, since they can't support themselves, much less a family. Which means they can't have sex. And that's a problem.
As we all know, or should by now, Islam has some very strict rules about gender relations. I'm not going to go into a deconstruction of sharia law here, or even express my own feelings about that. I'm not a Muslim, and I do my best to respect the faiths of others, even when I do not share that faith, or necessarily understand it. But the fact remains that in conservative Islamic situations there is very little chance that a young man with no job is going to be able to woo a wife, which is pretty much the only acceptable path to the bedroom for him.
Sure, Muslims aren't the only religious conservatives that have a problem with premarital relations. I was once told by a Christian friend of mine, a woman, that she couldn't stand hanging out with the men in her church anymore because "all they want to do is get married, so they can have sex."
It was funny at the time, but it got me to thinking.
However you feel about it, whatever your Book says, the fact remains that the prime directive of being alive is to reproduce. Human beings are no exception. We're wired, especially when we're young, to desire sex, preferably right now. That our societies have evolved rules that countermand that primordial drive may or may not be a tremendous mistake, but the fact remains that there exists a powerful tension between what our bodies tell us and what our societies tell us we should and shouldn't do.
So here are these guys. They're raised in a strict Muslim culture that says the only way they're ever going to get some is by getting married. They've spent time in the West, where the rules are quite a bit more relaxed (after all, the most conservative parts of the US also have the highest rates of unplanned pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections, so we can safely say that there is sex being had, whatever the prevailing moral attitude toward it might be), where they might or might not have gotten a taste of that sweet, sweet fruit that is a woman's love. But whether or not they were successful at the dating game, the women are much freer and more open, and sexuality is much more prevalent, which when you're young and horny can be quite maddening.
They then return to a land where a woman may not so much as step outside her home without a male relation to escort her. And because the economy is poor, thanks either to a kleptocracy or foreign intervention, or both, they can't find work, even with their advanced degrees. So they're not only frustrated by having all this training and education and it not doing them a damn bit of good, but they know that until they get that job and get that money that they're never going to get some love, which'll drive any man crazy.
No wonder they're so often willing to sacrifice themselves to kill Westerners. When you've got no healthy outlet for the perfectly natural desire to get your rocks off and you can't see a way forward to ever getting to, you become imbalanced and angry. Easy to radicalize. I'm sure it doesn't help that the Islamic heaven seems to involve a large supply of willing virgins, but even if it didn't there would still be this pool of young men who feel they have a reasonable expectation of finding work, getting married, and having, if not a good life, then at least sex, and who are frustrated beyond all reason when they discover that even though they have jumped through all the appropriate hoops that they still don't get to get some.
Hell, it's a wonder there aren't more of them.