The Education Cure

More

Speaking at the UN, George W. Bush says:

Better education unleashes the talent and potential of its citizens, and adds to the prosperity of all of us. Better education promotes better health and greater independence. Better education increases the strength of democracy, and weakens the appeal of violent ideologies. So the United States is joining with nations around the world to help them provide a better education for their people.

Unfortunately, as Kay Steiger points out, "it's been pretty well documented that the most effective terrorists are the highly educated ones." Indeed, while there are lots of good reasons to want to improve school around the world, preventing people from becoming terrorists isn't a good one at all. Check out Peter Bergen and Michael Lind on what actually motivates terrorists, or the 2005 op-ed on "The Madrassa Myth" that he co-wrote with Swati Pandey taking on a variant of the education story which holds that terrorists come from madrassas and that madrassas could be crowded out with better schools.

Throughout history, really, there's no reason to think that education weakens the appeal of violent ideologies. Pol Pot went to EFR in Paris and Lenin went to Kazan State University. When Marc Sageman looked at al-Qaeda biographies he found that "Three-quarters were professionals or semi- professionals. They are engineers, architects, and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion."

Jump to comments
Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Did I Study Physics?

In this hand-drawn animation, a college graduate explains why she chose her major—and what it taught her about herself.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In