People buy into this false correlation. its the same people who actually make the politics that creates the terrorist, who are most determined to believe this. Pakistan was still the same largely uneducated nation on September 10, 2001. Yet, no meaningful terrorism acts can be traced prior to that date. even despite the Afghan war that raged from 1979, Pakistan’s frontiers were regions of easy travel and ordinariness. the eleven men who carried out the 9/11 attacks were still college educated engineers and such. Robert McNamara, Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair are all pretty educated people, though many millions would call them terrorists too. Israelis are a highly literate society, but this hasn’t curtailed their violence or terrorism. I could go on.
The belief that terrorism is a social pathology, and not a political act, is more an act of political evasion than social fact. Terrorism is just another – not more, not less, not different, not worse, form of political violence. It always, always, emerges from environments of repression and violence. Not from poverty or illiteracy. This is also an argument that the anthropologist Daryl Li made recently when discussing the secular demonology what underpins any and all discussions about jihadism:
In order to start writing intelligible accounts about contemporary groups invoking jihad, one needs to engage and understand the political struggles at work by understanding the social forces driving them, the worldly goals they pursue and the antagonisms that they face. An important starting point is to recognize that groups claiming to wage jihad today operate in a world organized formally along nation-state lines. Jihadi groups may invoke an authority above this formal legal system (and they are hardly alone in doing so), but such universalist messages must always contend with and often work through actual institutions such as states.
To dehumanise the social realities of already suffering communities long abandoned by the state, and then to claim these realities as cause/reason for a violence whose roots are in state policies, is truly the most cynical of acts.