In the case of the British Islamist who took worshippers hostage at a Texas synagogue, it’s a distinction without a difference.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he hostage-taking by British Islamist Malik Faisal Akram at Temple Beth Israel in the Dallas–Fort Worth suburbs raises some familiar questions: Why was Akram, an extremist who was already known to British intelligence, allowed into the United States at all? Where did he get his gun? Why do so many progressives and agents of the government play down the antisemitic character of antisemitic attacks?

But there is another question that is of interest here: Where is the line between ordinary madness — meaning mental illness pure and simple — and political extremism?

Mental illness is sometimes offered as an exculpatory consideration by


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