Hornbaker Relfective Essay

Alison Hornbaker

New Normal Decade Reflection Paper


Reflection Paper on Extremism

Reflection Paper

Reza Aslan’s book Beyond Fundamentalism:  Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization defiantly hit on a lot of huge topics.  One of the topics that I picked up was the concept of Extremism.  I didn’t really understand what Extremism was or why people did it and believed in it before I read this book.  “Extremism is an exaggerated form of the frames of meaning that are found in all social movements… [just as] violence is an exacerbation of collective challenges.” (pg. 147).

Beyond Fundamentalism really opened my eyes to extremism and the lengths that some people will go to if they have enough convincing.  I would never kill myself to go to heaven.  Why not enjoy the short amount of time that we have on Earth and then go to heaven?  I feel like that is a much better option.  It just makes me wonder what makes these people think that it is ok to do this.  I understand that this is part of Extremism, but does somebody have to go to extreme lengths to get their point across to someone or a group of people?

A scene that really stood out to me was when the town was celebrating a holiday.  Everyone was in the street to celebrate the holiday which included fun games and a big meal and everyone in the neighborhood got together. Then, the guy with the candy cart was secretly a suicide bomber and once all the kids ran over to him he blew himself up.  This man committed this act because he wanted to prove a point to this specific group of people.

One of the statements made in the book that I found interesting was when Aslan described the perception of a suicide terrorist.  He said that “The perception of a suicide terrorist is that he is driven by hatred toward his target or by a lack of value for life.”  The he made this next statement “But as Marc Sageman has argued, ‘It is actually quite difficult to convince people to sacrifice themselves just because they hate their target… On the contrary, it appears that it is much more common to sacrifice oneself for a positive reason such as love, reputation, or glory.” (pg. 155).  Before I read this book I thought the same as the first quote, but after reading this book the second quote makes much more sense.  The suicide bombers that attacked the United States didn’t do it out of hatred for our country, but they wanted to relay a statement.  They did this because the wanted to show that even a big, strong nation such as the United States, could be affected by a smaller group of people.   There are always stories in the Bible that have a little group defeat a big group because God was on their side.  “They believed that God was directing them to commit these acts.” (pg. 6).

Overall, I think both of the books taught me a lot.  Beyond Fundamentalism opened my eyes to a lot of different topics that I don’t usually think about including Extremism.   I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of what Extremism is and why it happens even though I don’t think that it right for extremists to go to the lengths that somebody has to go to prove a point.  Extremism happens everywhere for different reasons and the acts are committed by different groups of people.  The United States isn’t the only target, they just were the target for the 9/11 attacks.  It is hard to come up to a solution to this problem.  I think people should be more aware of why people follow Extremism because I had no idea that Extremism is the reason that they attacked the United States.  I just thought that they didn’t like us for some reason.  I feel like most people in America, after the attacks, felt this way too.  They thought that the bombers did this a direct attack on the United States, but I think that they were just trying to prove their point to the world that even a great nation could be wounded by a small group of people.


Alsan, Reza.  Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of         Globalization.  New York: Random House, 2010.  Print.

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2 Responses to Hornbaker Relfective Essay

  1. ladson15 says:

    I too appreciated how the book cleared up just what extremism is and how it has been used select members of the Islamic world against America as a whole. There were a few grammatical errors, but nothing that took away from the essence of the paper. I would have liked to see a summary of how extremism was portrayed in the book in your conclusion, but not having a summary didn’t take too much away from my understanding. Good job!

  2. ladson15 says:

    Ok, logical fallacy time.
    “I would never kill myself to go to heaven.”
    This is a genetic fallacy- when these men (and women) die they don’t do it just to go to heaven. Additionally, keep in mind that their culture is quite different than ours. The extremists are subjected to pressures and influences that we can’t even imagine, which would be a huge factor in their decision to kill themselves. Logically, if we can’t understand the influences there isn’t any way we can fully understand the actions.

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