I've been following the air terror storyline over the holidays, mostly via Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, and am interested in the growing link between obscene, aberrant wealth of a select few in countries in Africa and the Middle East and the seduction of some of those few by religious radicalism.
The idea that obscenely wealthy young Muslim men would be a prime target for radicalization makes sense; self-loathing combined with an inflated sense of self-importance and access to the financial resources to carry out the sort of devastating attacks associated with Al Qaida all make them ripe for the picking for thuggish religious ideologues.
This vision of religious terrorism stands opposed to the traditional, right-wing narrative pitting a growing, increasingly homogeneous Muslim immigrant population in Western Europe against post-Enlightenment, universal-rights supporting, white majority, a narrative that has no basis in reality as Malise Ruthven's recent piece in the New York Review of Books deftly argues.
I feel there is some rich irony in this considering the cozy and welcome relationship between an elite group of Middle Eastern superrich oil barons and the Premier League, but I'm too tired eyed from holiday fun to piece it together just yet. Perhaps making my way through Simon Kuper's classic Football Against the Enemy will provide some inspiration.
Meanwhile, I parked myself 10 AM this morning for some illegal FA Cup football feed fun, and noticed Iran playing the DPRK. One always wishes for certain internationals to somehow carry the weight of meaning put on them by global political factors—unrest in Iran, the nature of two US unfriendlies facing off in a friendly tie—but the games never turn out that way. I lost interest after about ten minutes. The anthems proved the best part; the Iranian players looked on the verge of tears throughout, and gave some tepid applause for the anthem. Meanwhile the North Korean "fans" looked scared shitless, holding their flags still on their arms, wary of the watching camera.
Switched to Boro v. Man City, which provided all you need to know about what sort of "magic" there is left in the FA Cup. Boro played really well, unexpectedly, only to cough up a Benjani goal on the half. As of writing it's still 0-1. Apparently Ancelotti had to have it explained to him by Abramovich why the Cup even matters. Not sure what he told him, but maybe he should tell the rest of us, too. As for Villa, they're beating 10 man Blackburn 2-1, so good for us then.