The piece is criticized well by Norm. As has been mentioned before most suicide bombers are not "laying violent hands on [themselves]" but allowing others to lay violent hands on them. Most suicide bombers are used as a tool by people who would not want, and actively prohibit their family from wanting, to be so used.* Eagleton makes the point that
the bomber forces a contrast between the extreme kind of self-determination involved in taking his own life and the lack of such self-determination in his everyday existence.What self-determination would that be when most suicide bombers are encouraged, supported and directed by people who want to benefit from the suicide bomber's actions?
Not an authoritative source but a very good telling of the tale of a suicide bomber is in the small comic by Ron Rege Jr included in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern 13 edited by Chris Ware. Read it and weep.
Also see the responses of Scott Burgess, Harry's Place and Eric Unred.
*Gene, at Harry's Place, makes the point with a reference
Before his timely but non-suicidal death last year, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi scoffed when his own son, a medical student, said he would be honored to be a "martyr." Rantisi said his son didn't know what he was saying "because of his youth."
Then: "Some men must grow up to become doctors. But for that to happen, others have to sacrifice themselves and become martyrs."
With few exceptions, Palestinian suicide bombers come from among the deluded and the desperate. They do not come from among the leaders, organizers and propagandists of the organizations which claim responsibility for the bombings, or from among their children.
Suicide bombers are invariably pawns in someone else's game.