ISIS militants march in Raqqa, Syria.
Associated Press/Militant Website
ISIS militants march in Raqqa, Syria.

Root causes of antisocialism


We all know, from our public schooling and the mainstream media, that when a person does bad things it is not his fault. Not at all. It is probably his mother’s, or his father’s fault. Antisocialism has causes, and if we only studied hard enough we could uncover them—and fix them!

Beheading innocent people, as is done in Syria today, does not come naturally. The person doing the beheading must have been treated very badly indeed to have been so provoked. The same can be said of the people fomenting genocide (U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf’s words) presently going on in Iraq. Someone must have been very mean to members of ISIS to make them want to force the Christians of Qaraqosh to recant or die.

A few of the causes of antisocial behavior are all too familiar: poverty, lack of equality, and disrespect. But for your edification, I will list a few erudite theories you may not know:

  • One explanation of why good people do bad things is Robert K. Merton’s “structural strain theory.” This teaches us that deviance comes from the gap between our goals and our access to these goals. This is the fault of culture, which dangles tantalizing visions before us but frustrates our ability to grab the gold ring. What can you do but chop someone’s head off when that happens?
  • Secondly, the “labeling theory.” This teaches us that no behavior is intrinsically criminal. (This is my favorite.) Definitions of evil are made up by people in power. I like this theory because it saves you the trouble of ferreting out the reasons for genocide; you just have to say that genocide is all in the eye of the beholder.
  • The “social control theory” teaches us that deviant behavior happens when people, for whatever reason, become alienated from the social norms of their surrounding culture. When social bonds are weakened, what can one do?
  • The “differential association theory” of Edwin H. Sutherland explains that criminal behavior is learned. We cannot help but pick up, by osmosis, the attitudes and values of those closest to us.

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So there you have it. It is not the fault of ISIS terrorists that they are what they are. Perhaps this is why our president and media wear kid gloves to speak of them.

Meanwhile, Christians, like the thousands presently seeking refuge in Erbil, where they were driven by ISIS, cling to the Neanderthal biblical explanation of evil as a mystery of the heart of man as fueled by hell. 

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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