By Gonzalo López Martí - Creative director, etc / LMMiami.com
- I was reading the news about the attacks last week in Spain* and it was brought to my attention that some European media outlets call these type of assailants “Nike terrorists”.
- “Nike terrorist”?
- What can that possibly mean?
- Here’s what I found after some research online.
- Apparently, the term was coined by operatives in the British intelligence services.
- For various reasons, some of them surprisingly related to our marketing & advertising line of business.
- The first one being that these “jihadists” are literally amateurs who seem to simply wake up one morning and “just do it”.
- Out of the blue.
- They don’t even bother going to, say, Yemen to spend time on some training camp.
- They are not professional insurgents of “freedom fighters” and don’t even have contact with one.
- They rarely hang out at the neighborhood mosque.
- They are self-taught.
- They get their inspiration, motivation and indoctrination from the web.
- DIY 100%.
- Their remote brain washers use shrewd, surprisingly sophisticated propaganda, marketing and engaging techniques, mostly on social media, with remarkable production values.
- Google the “Amak News Agency” when you have a minute and you’ll be surprised.
- The message:
- What are you doing with your life?
- Get off your ass, enough with the Playstation!
- Be someone, be famous, be a hero!
- Feel the adrenaline rushing through your bloodstream!
- Not unlike the aforementioned sneaker manufacturer, huh?
- Then again, don’t ask a “Nike terrorist” about the Quran, Muslim doctrine or Middle East geopolitics.
- Most possibly, all you’ll get is a handful of prepackaged slogans and soundbites.
- They are not interested in the boring stuff.
- They just want their fifteen minutes of fame.
- They want to see their faces on the covers of the worlds’ newspapers.
- They are bitter, alienated, full of existential tedium and hatred.
- They are young and impressionable.
- They are growing up in a world where failing to get dozens of likes on your social media feeds is humiliating.
- They seem to say to themselves “I can’t be Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo but wait and you will know who I am.”
- See, when the media keeps saying “don’t be a nobody, don’t be a loser” the vast majority of people will have the self-esteem and mental stability to deflect the onslaught.
- Inevitably though, a small percentage of unhinged folks will take it the wrong way.
- Can these people be re-integrated into society?
- Is there a sliver of a chance for reconciliation?
- Is it a matter of giving these guys a different kind of purpose, dignity, jobs?
- Who knows.
- Should judges be lenient with these individuals, taking into account the circumstances in which they were recruited?
- I’m no criminologist or social worker but, if you ask me, I don’t think so.
- The damage is done.
- The cliché says that you can’t negotiate with terrorists because they take the smallest concession as a sign of weakness.
- I tend to believe it is true.
- There’s no reasoning with fanatics.
- Too risky.
- A fanatic will misconstrue everything you say or do to fit into their paranoid, one-sided worldview.
- What’s left then?
- Should we have law enforcement detain people based on their ethnicity or religion?
- Should we allow authorities to break into property or eavesdrop into people’s communications without a warrant?
- Should we give up our rights for the sake of safety?
- Hell no.
- To use another cliché, in this case attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
*I flew back from a vacation in Spain with my family, precisely in Barcelona and Tarragona, just four days before the attacks last week.
What an absolute calamity.
Spain was having a great year.
The country had become the #1 tourist destination in Europe (#2 worldwide after the US).
Yup, higher than its French neighbor (whose brand has supposedly been hit harder by terrorism yet, given the recent events, this perception will probably change).
In fact, a lot of people claim that “Spain is the new France.”
The influx of vacationers has shown annual double-digit growth for the last decade or so.
Year-to-date growth could fetch 15% in 2017 (from 74 million souls to north of 80).
Industry experts believe this will dump close to 40 billion euros onto the Spanish economy.
What will happen from now on?