My hope that we can employ a different paradigm in the wake of the tragic Paris attacks is a fool’s hope. The war drums are already starting, even though they’ve never really stopped. Years before 9/11 and most certainly in the 14 years since, the U.S. and its Western allies, including France, have bombed and intervened in numerous, mostly Muslim, countries and to what end? The creation of more terrorists. Terrorists who cruelly, but brilliantly get exactly what they want: the death of more Muslims that don’t join their cause and the people of the West turning against those same Muslims in the name of stopping attacks.
In the last 14 years, we’ve learned nothing. Major presidential candidates, like Marco Rubio and “liberal” pundits, like Bill Maher, still echo the inane sentiment that terrorists hate us for our freedoms. I wonder how many terrorists would be created within the walls of the United States if we were perpetually bombed, warred with, occupied, regimes changed, our fathers and sons and daughters and mothers killed and brutalized with no accountability and so on and so forth.
Immigrants, refugees and Muslims are not the enemies. Acceptance of them is not the enabler of terrorism. The enabler of terrorism is perpetual war with little oversight and accountability. And yes, unfortunately, some people are just nasty, nasty individuals.
I do take solace, however, in the way segments of humanity rises to the challenge of violence in commendable ways, like Parisians opening their homes to people or lining up for hours to donate blood, but that side has been losing to the War on Terrorism and its status quo for far too long.
We desperately need a new way of thinking about and responding to terrorism. Xenophobia, Islamophobia and reckless disregard for the human lives in non-Western countries is the same old, same old. And it’s what the terrorists want. We can do so, so much better.