Philip Zelikow: The terrorists are like ... anarchists of old, with one big but
But when you step back from this terrorist phenomenon, one thing that’s worth some perspective—you can’t pass without comment, even though we know it semiconsciously—is to observe the historically unprecedented nihilism and barbarity of these terrorists. There is simply no precedent for it. I remarked on the anarchists earlier. An anarchist of 1906 would regard the terrorist activities perpetrated by these groups—the beheadings on television so on—these are people who would plant dynamite in a public street and they would be appalled by the things that these groups are willing to do and countenance. Today’s groups both create and play to what I’m afraid I can only call a desensitized and debased public sensibility—a public so callous that it does not recoil anymore at the shocks that are being inflicted on them and the appalling contrast to civilization that these groups present. ...
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