CRUSADERS, CRIMINALS, CRAZIES: Terror and Terrorism in Our Time by

CRUSADERS, CRIMINALS, CRAZIES: Terror and Terrorism in Our Time

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A Beverly Hills psychiatrist, Hacker was a court-appointed expert at the Manson trial and a member of the ""crisis counsel"" which successfully negotiated with Arab terrorists in Austria after the Munich bloodbath. His insights on the glamour and irresistibility of terror are largely familiar: it is mystical and ritualistic; it is a spectacular media event; it promises instant salvation as martyrs sacrifice themselves to a transcendent cause. Differentiating between crazies, criminals, and crusaders is not, in fact, the main thrust of this rather tortuous book; ideologically committed crusaders are the chief concern now that terror has become a ""growth industry."" Hacker's survey of guerrilla activities from Palestine to Ireland to Latin America lacks a historical dimension and ignores, for example, the many instances in which terrorism is the last-ditch tactic of played-out middle-class reformists. Instead of examining social contexts, he belabors the truism that ""Terror and terrorism always coexist; they condition each other and need each other to justify their existence."" To put a stop to terrorist ""contagion,"" he opposes governmental commando operations even when--as at Entebbe--they are not overt raids but rescue missions. On psychological rather than political grounds he disagrees with the commonly held view that one must not negotiate with international blackmailers, noting that for the terrorist ""expectations of punishment, particularly the death penalty, serve as attractions rather than deterrents."" The upshot is a liberal's plea for the supremacy of human life as against national myths, abstract symbols, and territorial claims. Otherwise, this is a murky mix of political naivete and psychological overkill.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1976
Publisher: Norton