Why Ask John Burns?

The NYTimes has a “Notes from the Front Lines” piece up where you can ask John Burns about why Muslims “radicalize.”

As my six-year-old would say, “What does it mean, in this sense?”

I suppose radicalize is an improvement over “Moslem fanatic,” which one used to read, at least in Associated Press pieces. Still, the NYT cannot make me give up the word “radical.” I like the word. Radical, dude.

Radical emphasizes the idea of going to the root of a matter, and this often seems immoderate in its thoroughness or completeness: radical ideas; radical changes or reforms.

If you’re interested in these sorts of things, you might just as well ask Abdo Khal, who used to be a street preacher in Saudi Arabia advocating violence, and is now an author shortlisted for the 2010 “Arabic Booker” prize. You could ask Mohamed Mansi Qandil, the author Moon over Samarqand; in his novel, one of the central characters starts an Islamist revolution in Turkestan. Or you could ask Khaled el-Berry, the author of Life is More Beautiful than Paradise: A Jihadist’s Own Story.