So every blogger worth his or her salt apparently has to chime on the Paris attacks. I’m more of a respectful silence type person (hence the delay in writing, I could never be a news reporter) but a lot of people have been asking me what I think about the attacks. So instead of answering them all, I thought I’d be lazy and write one answer and refer whoever asks me back to that one answer.
As a disclaimer, this is going to be brutally honest, which is to say I don’t expect it to be very popular.
For starters, it’s such a tragedy. I imagine those would be some scary last moments to have if you were a victim. And terrorism of any kind is alarming to me because to make terror especially effective you must target the innocent and unsuspecting, making everyone feel vulnerable because most people fall into that category as they go about living their daily lives. And I honestly wonder about the type of evil that makes a person capable of desiring that, the total annihilation of others.
The outpouring of social media support was nice, but I also found it a bit upsetting, because so many innocent civilians in the middle east lose their lives at the hands of terrorist organizations and live with that daily threat, but we (the Western world, where I broadcast from) have come to expect that from the middle east, and don’t pay much attention to it anymore. Yet that de-sensitization would never do for our fellow western countries such as France. And I was disappointed as I watched public feeling transition from genuine concern to jump-on-the-bandwagon status updates and Tweets, as it so often does in incidents that receive major news coverage. It just really rubs me the wrong way when people use their support of a tragedy or cause as a way to draw attention to themselves. Call me old fashioned, but I think it’s in poor taste.
I also think it’s ironic how everyone writes pieces anticipating a hatred of Islam with that trite slogan: “terrorism has no religion.” I agree with that sentiment, and believing that all Muslims have terrorist sympathies is like believing that all Christians have problems with the Starbucks Red Cup (although the same bloggers who encouraged me to be open-minded with Islam I highly doubt will return the favor with my Christianity example, it’s just the way of the world). Because it is an injustice to scapegoat and demonize the Muslim community as a whole because of the actions of a more extreme sect. But when it comes to these “writers” I honestly imagine them opening their laptops and saying to themselves, “I’m going to preemptively respond to a massive stereotype that all Americans are ignorant and bigoted (especially those Christian ones) towards Muslims and encourage them not to indulge in stereotypes because that is bad and small minded. But I’m not small-minded for doing the exact same thing because I went to college where I learned that they key to engaging in stereotypes is to only indulge in the socially acceptable ones.”
It would be one thing if you saw prejudice happening in your community and wanted to respond, because I’m not naive enough to believe that it doesn’t happen, but I hope you could tell from the context that that was not the case in the articles I read. More to the point, this idea of tolerance, though well intentioned and important to keep in mind, is also dangerous because it often yields an opposite extreme where people refuse to acknowledge this radical interpretation of Islam as a problem out of fear of giving offense. The danger being that we prefer to see these incidents as the actions of a few random radicals who were marginalized by society and got swept up in a cause etc. (you know the narrative), which in my opinion completely underestimates these men and women and their movement. Because part of their passion and dedication comes from the fact that they are thinking eternally and seeking to glorify themselves and/or their God Allah by killing as many infidels as possible and cleansing the earth of it’s impurities. Their strategy is not purely military because they are not, like our opponents in the past, seeking the destruction of a specific, quantifiable end; the overarching goal is merely to kill any and all infidels, any time and any place, the more the better. In other words, with this strategy you don’t even have to win the war, so long as your battles kill infidels. And for this kind of strategy such dedication and strong networking is important, and I would argue has been very effective because new recruits keep refilling the shoes the shoes of the suicide bombers.
While I do think there is a persistent and calculated effort to amass power and influence in the hopes of eventually eradicating any and all dissenting parties, the greatest difficulty in combatting this effort will be its subtlety, in that the movement will not come galloping into the light to declare war but instead lurk in the shadows of fear and terror tactics, waiting as the wear and tear of disorientation takes its toll. And unfortunately I believe the Western world is guilty of almost poetical hubris in not taking these threats seriously by framing them through their own worldviews and failing to realize that to these terrorists an infidel is less than human and they will not abide by the old rules of military conduct, nor can they be so easily targeted and taken out in one massive display of strength and a conclusive sweeping victory. And I only pray that world leaders will use true wisdom as they determine an appropriate response to combat the new threat, rather than the old ones.
However, ultimately in any tragedy I see the worst of humanity and the best of humanity coexisting side by side. And I will always choose to look at the good. Because no matter what happens in the world, whatever darkness lingers on the horizon I am not afraid because the world has already been overcome and I will live to see the day when the darkness reigns no more. And so, my friends, will you.