What the Charleston Mass-murderer Has in Common With the Very Few Americans Who Try to Join ISIS

I think the Charleston shooter did it for the same basic “reason”, the misguided reason, that a very few young American Muslims join ISIS. Because they feel centerless, unfocused, unappreciated, powerless, empty. Let me clarify, I don’t mean the normal feeling of not knowing what to do with life, common to a young person; I don’t mean normal youthful confusion. I mean, things are worse now. They can’t find a place in the world–simply as young men. This makes them prey to extremists.

So this young man, who once had some black friends, feels the way those lost ISIS recruits feel–and he falls in with online racists, possibly through the racist youth organization Stormfront–and local racists too, no doubt…and he wants to belong, wants respect. And he’s angry, all the time, anyway. We don’t know why yet. But that’s part of the formula for his rocket fuel.

And now he’s got meaning, he thinks, and importance, he supposes, through a mission. He even referred to his “mission”. Maybe someone sent him on the mission; maybe he made the mission up in his mind. But it seems to me to be remarkably parallel with the “I think I’ll join ISIS” kids. . .a similar psychological profile.

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