Shahzad’s lesson: Foreclosed is forearmed

Pundits from CNN’s Jim Acosta to the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein have suggested that aspiring Times Square terror bomber Faisal Shahzad may have acted out of duress related to the foreclosure of his Connecticut home. Joe Queenan thinks they may be on to something:

[S]ince an awful lot of people of all nationalities are in foreclosure at this very moment, the authorities are going to need all the help they can get in monitoring this situation. If you know of anyone in your neighborhood that has fallen behind in his mortgage payments, immediately contact the police.
As CNN’s and the Post’s astute analyses make clear, homeowners are only one missed payment away from becoming depraved terrorists. This is yet another case where unscrupulous mortgage brokers, heartless banks and conscienceless real-estate agents have brought this society to its knees.

Queenan observes that “it doesn’t take a whole lot to unleash the evil that forever lies slumbering in the deepest recesses of the human heart. And in an astonishing number of cases, a real-estate deal that went south is the cause of all the trouble.” Drawing on his deep knowledge of history, Queenan cites a few of the many tales of men who turned to violence because of bad real-estate investments:

On this point, the historical record is clear. Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, roommates in medical school, only became bloodthirsty revolutionaries after the title-search company handling their lease-purchase of a Mexico City duplex ran off with their deposit, taking their life’s savings.
Lee Harvey Oswald’s decision to assassinate John F. Kennedy was almost certainly triggered by a $30,000 beating he took on the sale of his suburban Dallas condo.
Augusto Pinochet, who presided over Chile from 1974 until 1990, decided to depose his rival Salvador Allende after a Santiago-based Real Estate Investment Trust went belly-up. Recalls a retired junta member: “Augusto was a klutz when it came to real estate. When that REIT blew up, he just went ballistic.”
The library of Alexandria, with a collection that included scores of irreplaceable Aeschylus manuscripts, was burned to the ground in A.D. 642 by eight silent partners in a downtown Luxor redevelopment project that imploded.
The sack of Rome, in A.D. 476, was ordered by a barbarian named Odoacer, who had squandered the inheritance left him by his grandfather Attila on a Helvetian buy-leaseback garrison conversion deal brokered by a cabal of shady Brigantes.
And the assassination of Julius Caesar was almost certainly triggered by Brutus’s getting scammed on a Transalpine Gaul timeshare deal by Marc Antony. As Cicero said at the time: “This is a reminder that foreclosures generate an enormous amount of misery and anxiety and depression that can tip people into all sorts of dangerous behaviors that don’t make headlines but do ruin lives. The evil that men do dies with them. The crummy real-estate deals live on for centuries.”

If only Acosta and Klein and their colleagues would turn their attention from the Shahzad case and devote themselves to doing something about the root causes of terrorism over at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac…

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