Monday, November 23, 2015
In Which We Seek Appropriate Titles
The person chiefly responsible for the Paris terrorist attacks is presumed to be Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a resident of the Belgian neighborhood Molenbeek. If you pay attention to news reports, you've seen or heard Abaaoud referred to as such things as "mastermind," "architect," and "ringleader." What's the right term? "Mastermind" makes him sound like a James Bond villain, the kind of suavely compelling ne'er-do-well played by Christoph Waltz or Javier Bardem. That won't do. "Architect" has a more technical connotation, but still conveys too much respect for Abaaoud's intellectual capacity. Architects, after all, build things, a far more difficult task than mindless destruction. "Ringleader" has possibilities, conveying as it does the image of someone at the center of "madness"--the madness of a terrorist cell, though, is a far cry from that of a circus. Perhaps we need a new term? Thug-in-chief? Suggestions?