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Samizdata reader Rob Smith has some interesting observations about a common psychological link between the IRA, street gangs and Islamic terrorists:

I was born and raised for a number of my formative years in a coal mining camp in Harlan County, Kentucky. Buried deep in the armpit of the Appalachian Mountains, “Bloody Harlan” is famous for the fussin,’ feudin,’ and fightin’ that went on for years there, first between families that just flat-out didn’t like each other, then between the moonshiners and the sheriffs, then between the Company and the Union during the Mine Wars.

A common thread ran through every one of these battles. The “Code of the Hills” dictated that no one could abide any sort of insult from anyone and maintain the family’s dignity. Honor was at stake if that insult was given, and everyone knew that honor was much more important than life. So, a lot of people were killed by crazy hillbillies following their “code,” and I was raised to believe they were all heroes for either killing or being killed.

I grew out of those beliefs, but they give me an interesting perspective on Islamic Holy Warriors and IRA members and a lot of other misguided fools who continue to follow their own personal version of the code today. Some people may have a legitimate grievance against someone else, but taking to the trees and the hollows with a squirrel gun and shooting at anything that moves on the other side often is counterproductive. Sometimes, a lot of people are killed and you’ve gotta pay ’em back for that, so more people are killed, and you’ve gotta pay ’em back for that, and soon the snake is eating its tail, making a vicious circle.

The Al-Qaeda, Sinn Fein and others of their ilk are not very different from drug dealers in the ‘hood who are “dissed” by a rival gang and feel that a drive-by shooting is the only possible response to this insult. They all remind me of the hillbillies I saw do the same thing, because they never used their brains to control their behavior. Everything came from the gut.

Some things are worth fighting for. Given no other option, that’s exactly what I would do. But I would always explore other options first, then fight because my brain told me to, not my gut.

Rob Smith

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