Tom Nichols is a national security expert. He’s a professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, an author currently out on a nationwide book tour and a contributor to The Federalist—that august online journal of ideas, including the notion that using pseudoscience to justify white supremacy ranks you among the “greatest living Americans.”
He is also the sagacious seer of social media, an internet opinion-haver who’s just throwing something out there: perpetrators of Islamic terrorism happen to smoke marijuana.
Just saying! Just throwing it out there, responsibly, thoughtfully and not at all selectively.
On Monday evening, a few hours after news of the terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, UK reached the United States—but a day before the attacker was identified as Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old native-born Englishman—Nichols was there to offer a take: the attacker, whoever he was, was almost certainly a “local weedhead.”
As it happened, Nichols was right. Indeed, among the details of Abedi’s life: He was born in the UK to Libyan parents, he was a fervent supporter of Manchester United—and he smoked weed.
Or, as the BBC reported, without providing further detail, Abedi was a “user of cannabis.”
This is relevant, you see, because Islam forbids marijuana use. There are lots and lots of other things Islam forbids—swearing, gambling, lying, murder, plotting evil, being cucked (really!)—none of which Nichols mentions.
Now. Nichols posited this supposition—as he would later clarify—not to suggest that cannabis leads to terrorism, because that would be stupid.
He declared the suicide bomber was a stoner (and not, say, an isolated loner living in an increasingly isolated world with uncertain economic opportunity or any other factors that would lead to radicalization) in order to make these points: Terrorism is often homegrown, so military responses along the lines of “bomb them into dust” are ridiculous non-solutions because “they” are “us;” and that many would-be jihadists are bad at being Muslims.
This is ironic, considering the Islamic State’s stated goal is to bring about a new caliphate, where the common law is sharia law (although ISIS appears to be pretty bad at that as well).
But once you take a peek inside the weed rabbit hole, you must fall all the way in.
There’s a common thread dangling right in front of your face! See here: The Boston Marathon bombers, the British-born ISIS terrorist who starred in a string of murderous decapitation videos and the perpetrators of the attack on the Bataclan theater in Paris—they were all pot smokers!
This—and only this—is the character trait Nichols chose to zero in on. That, and porn.
There is some truth here. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev smoked and dealt pot in college. His older brother Tamerlan almost certainly was involved in the drug game and almost certainly killed three people over a drug debt before the bombings.
And Salah Abdeslam, the alleged accomplice of the nine men who carried out the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, was once arrested for cannabis possession, several of the perpetrators were described as “big smokers and drinkers,” and another accomplice also used to like to party before falling into the terrorist lifestyle.
They also liked to take selfies and listen to music and wore western clothes, but—duh—none of those things are weed.
Not everyone caught Nichols’s artful and delicately placed point, which, to the willfully obtuse, sounds a lot like suggesting there’s a link between smoking weed and committing terrorism—you know, sort of like smoking weed and using heroin or losing your mind or all the other terrible things marijuana does to us, or so we’re told.
No, no! That’s not what Tom Nichols meant at all. Sheeple! Fools! Please allow Tom Nichols to explain to the butt-hurt cannabis users out there who can’t understand that when someone says terrorists like to smoke weed, it doesn’t really have anything to do with weed.
He means they’re just like the rest of us, wallowing in hedonism, enjoying the earthly pleasures that all unfailingly lead to radicalization and mass murder.
No—sorry—that’s not it at all. He means they’re losers.
Who also smoke weed. Forget the booze, forget the soccer, forget the using bad language and not washing before praying or doing the Hajj.
The one incongruous detail, the one character trait that unites all these bad loser people, is their weed use. Not broken homes, not the constant demonizing of people who look like them in the media. No. Saying otherwise, or selectively picking other un-Muslim details in common, would be irresponsible.