Terry Moran: Freedom Makes Men Terrorists

The day after Independence Day, ABC reporter Terry Moran jotted down his thoughts on what makes some people become terrorists. His answer: freedom.

Rather than explore religious fanaticism or just plain depraved human wickedness, Moran insisted in a July 5 blog posting that modernity and the freedom of association it fosters is causing many a young Muslim male to descend into the hellish depths of terrorism.:


To be a modern person is to be an insecure person. By that I mean insecure in one's identity in relation to others. Rootlessness, anonymity, transience--these are the conditions that make many of us who we are in the modern world. And that in turn makes the construction of our identities--our personalities--an active endeavor, a matter of choice and struggle and reflection. This is the condition of a free mind in a free world--liberated, but in a fundamental sense, alone as our forebears were not.

Because for most of human history, the question "Who am I in this society?" was simply unimaginable. Family, ancestors, clan, tribal networks, geography, faith and ties to the land made one's identity a given--a fact defined extrinsically by seemingly immutable social forces. There is great comfort in this; we are social creatures, and a deep, dense social network can provide a rich sense of identity. But it is a truth of our time that as the world moves rapidly from the country to the city (more than half the human population now lives in cities--a staggering social change in our species), fewer and fewer people will live amid the old certainties, and more and more will experience the dizzying possibilities of life as an individual set adrift in the human sea of the great city.

In a nutshell, Moran seems to say that it's freedom that breeds terrorism. It's freedom that makes terrorists terrorists. Freedom of action, freedom of choice to plot your destiny, to live your life in a modern world, is just too much for some people. It's society's fault, in other words.

It shouldn't be that surprising, I suppose. After all, Moran is the same guy who suggested that the Duke lacrosse team, falsely accused of rape by a reckless prosecutor, were less aggrieved by their scrape with national media scrutiny than the Rutgers women's basketball team that Don Imus maligned as "nappy-headed hos."



Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.