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Did I mention that JihadJane is from the suburbs?

You've probably heard of JihadJane, the internet name of Colleen R. LaRose.

JihadJane is an American woman who is accused of joining with Islamic militants overseas and plotting to kill the Swedish cartoonist who drew Mohammed's head on the body of a dog. Her arrest by federal prosecutors sent ripple waves across the country, as it now seemed that terrorism was more home-grown. It also raised fears that terrorists would be harder to detect, if they were, like LaRose, white women "from the suburbs".

Indeed, virtually every reference to JihadJane mentions that she hails from suburbia, specifically the suburbs of Philadelphia. I can't recall another recent case in which the "suburbs" were deemed to be the defining feature of  residence. Even the Department of Justice, in its press release announcing the indictment, highlighted the 'burbs angle: "Today’s indictment, which alleges that a woman from suburban America agreed to carry out murder overseas and to provide material support to terrorists, underscores the evolving nature of the threat we face."

Perhaps the use of the word is meant to call up images of American family life, soccer moms, or dull and ordinary existences - against which JihadJane seems out of context, like a revelation that all is not well in the suburbs. But when an estimated 80 percent of Americans now live in suburbs, it should be about time that we recognized that the suburbs contain a variety of people and experiences.

JihadJane was not, as someone might think from quickly reading, a long-time resident of the Philly suburbs. She was born in Michigan and grew up in Texas, and it's not clear when or why she moved to the Philadelphia area. In describing her hardscrabble life and the amateurish plot, the Philadelphia Inquirer also takes a dig at the fact that she is - you guessed it - from the suburbs: 

She married young and badly. She bounced checks at Pizza Hut and the grocery. She hit the bottle to excess sometimes, talked to her cats, and once attempted suicide. And, as "JihadJane," she spewed violent-sounding vitriol online for all the world - including law enforcement - to see. From what's known about her so far, Colleen Renee LaRose is not coming off as the sharpest jihadist in the suburbs.

Yet, without any self-awareness, the article's headline is "Jihad Jane's life like a 'country music song'". So maybe we should say she is from the country; or, recognize that the suburbs are the country.

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