Any temptation to do a detailed fisking of this piece of "scholarship" has been reduced by the way that Harry and Norm tear into it. However despite that (and do read their critiques) I have something to add.
Firstly there is the question of the target. Eagleton seems rather reluctant to mention that the majority of suicide bombers kill themselves in places where there are a large number of victims, and more importantly where said victims have limited connections with the cause for which the bomber is attemtoing to strike a blow. A bomber like the Saudi who infiltrated the US militry camp in Iraq is, in my opinion, rather different from the common or garden variety that finds a suitable bus to blow up. Furthermore, when reading this piece I couldn't help being reminded of the quip that "for an economist, an acceptable level of unemployment means he still has a job". I might paraphrase that and say that for a professor of cultural theory (whatever cultural theory is), an acceptable level of terrorism is one where he and his loved ones remain alive. I wonder whether a suicide bomber blowing up a university lecture hall in Manchester would change Prof Eagleton's view of potential suicide bombers, that
most men and women have one formidable power at their disposal: the power to die as devastatingly as possible. And not only devastatingly, but surreally. There is a smack of avant garde theatre about this horrific act. In a social order that seems progressively more depthless, transparent, rationalised and instantly communicable, the brutal slaughter of the innocent, like some Dadaist happening, warps the mind as well as the body.
Second is the question of the media. Eagleton tries to tie Suicide Bombers into Hunger Strikers saying both seek make their death worth something. Well in fact it seems to me that Eagleton and other slugs who make these sorts of false comparisons merely perpetuate the problem. By noting that the terrorist bomb was caused by a suicide bomber or sometimes by a martyr the media gives dignity to a despicable act. The important thing is not the survival of the terrorist killer but the death of the innocents, and as Gene adds to Harry's piece, the way that the terrorits leaders unnacountably fail to volunteer themselves or their own nearest and dearest for the missions. It seems to me that news reports that said "X people were killed in a marketplace in Y by a terrorist bomb" without naming the organization that claims 'credit' would be better at placing emphasis where it should be than the current reports that start "ZZZ organization claimed credit for a suicide bombing that killed X poeple in the Y marketplace" Terrorists commit these outrages to gain attention so the best way to stop them is to not give them the publicity they seek so desperately.
It seems to me that it is the patina of distance that permits people like Eagleton to romanticise the bomber. Seen close up they are despicable and anyone who tries to pretend otherwise shares in their evil. An apologist for such evil is himself either evil or criminally ignorant.