Published On: Wed, Feb 22nd, 2017

Costly punishment

dekker_0“Social emotions like anger, envy, and spite are very powerful drivers, for those who seek revenge. Revenge behavior often outweighs economic and social self-interest. What follows is called 'costly punishment' ( Dr. Molly Crockett,  neuroscientist,  experimental psychologist;  Oxford University, 2017).

Populist politicians are eager to capitalize on this thirst for retaliation.

Populist politicians tapped new sources of young voters by rekindling smoldering hate against long bygones, like colonialism, slavery and discrimination, and respectively, all that is European. Everything European, or western, from education to law enforcement, gets branded as the enemy. Dropping out of school at age fourteen becomes a heroic act of resistance; stealing, robbing, and assault are justified with “look what they did to my ancestors.”

The question is no longer, are the demagogues sincere or perverse, are they ill-informed or aware of manipulating historical sources. Inventing, exaggerating or just exploiting revisionist history is deemed to be ok.  Threats of intimidating physical violence are often so intense that most responsible players rather turn their heads and look the other way.

Dropout and unemployed youth eagerly absorb the poisonous and delusional brainwashing.   Many used it as an excuse to establish new identities in the shadow economy of the narco industry. With crime, they could revenge themselves and their ancestors, almost unopposed by law enforcement, often with behavior at their  own expense, of  “costly punishment.”

When the violence of the crime world became insufficient to offset their newly rekindled hate, ISIS became the next vehicle. Absorbed by the delusion, many young Muslim kids, often of backward societies, were recruited eagerly by ISIS.  Accounts show that many even died on the battlefield with the delusionaL satisfaction of ultimate revenge.

Even now, when ISIS is almost defeated, law enforcement officials in Trinidad and Tobago, are scrambling to halt a steady stream of young Caribbean Muslims to Syria, where they recruit as fighters, or rather as canon fodder, for the Islamic State.  After the defeat of Mosul and Raqqa, a worldwide battlefield awaits them as global terrorists.

The Caribbean has a tradition of not addressing even the most pressing social issues, mostly out of shame or fear for influencing adversely, their tourist industry. So festering wounds develop into stinking gangrene, ultimately only to be treated with radical amputation at enormous expense.

Election games are too deceiving to deal with any of these issues. Politicians who are gearing up for elections, rain a flurry of cheap slogans, golden promises of a glorified future, and presents, or even cash, over their constituencies.

In the process, with denial, they feather a warm nest for the beast of international terrorism.

By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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