What do a ballet school and terrorism have in common?
Answer. nothing. Nothing whatsoever. Which is precisely why a ballet school is a perfect hideout for a terrorist.
The beauty of it is that to know that fact, you and I don´t have to do anything special -- connect to satellites, infiltrate terrorist organizations, monitor millions of cellphone conversations and emails, etc. The middle class rebel terrorist, with his consuming obsession to cultivate contradictions, will make the connection.
Abimael Guzman, a.k.a. Presidente Gonzalo, was the leader of the horrific Shining Path movement in Peru. He was on his way to dethroning Hitler and Pol Pot as numbers 1 and 2 in crimes against humanity. Only one thing stopped him: he was captured in 1992, while residing in a ballet studio in a well-off section of Lima. He is in prison for life.
Recently, Guzman smuggled out his memoirs. They were published to the utter chagrin of the Peruvian Government, which for years had successfully maintained a total blackout. I hope to get a copy and analyze it in this blog.
In the meantime, take a good look at the picture of Guzman and his girlfriend in the Wikipedia article. I guarantee that for the first two seconds, you will do a Three-Stooges Double-Take: which one is the guy? Replete with Guzman´s ghastly case of psoriasis, the dynamic duo look like escapees from "Night of The Living Dead." Maybe the inner essence of their genocides comes down to this: they missed their calling.
Or did they? Guzman is undeniably a middle class rebel in the wider sense of the term, i.e., any marginal, intermediate, transitional status or condition. The illegitimate progeny of a well-off merchant who had won the lottery, Guzman spent his early years with Mom. As for middle class in the narrower sense of the term, i.e., the socio-economic class, reliable information is scarce. For now, let me leave it at this. Guzman was a philosophy teacher.
Guzman isn´t the first middle class rebel to come from a wealthy family. The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion discusses how that apparent oxymoron can occur. See also this blog´s post of 12-8-2010 on Pol Pot and his henchmen.
In 1990, I spent a week in Lima. Everybody was talking -- or at least thinking about -- The Shining Path. A few weeks before I arrived, they had shelled the hotel in which I stayed. The Lima experience was the source of my observation that terrorism strives to be omnipresent (see The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion and my four-part Internet article, "A New Definition of Terrorism"). The Peruvian writer, Mario Vargas Llosa, in his work Lituma en Los Andes conveys superbly that defining quality of terrorism. He portrays the Shining Path directly only in a few pages -- but there it is, playing between every line like background music in a plunging elevator.
In searching for perpetrators of a terrorist attack, instead of spending megabucks on fancy technology and ridiculously-priced D.C. Beltway consultants, governments in less developed countries would do better to (1) take out the phone book. (2) Start with university professors. (3) Work down through lawyers, doctors, accountants, teachers, realtors, and other middle class professionals. (4) Tell them to come downtown. (5) Ask them where they and their sons and daughters were when the terrorist attack occurred. (6) Check their stories out. (7) Arrange for prison cells. You will have your perpetrators inside of 2 months.
P.S. Don´t leave out ballet studios.