Americans Can Conquer Terrorism

Americans Can Conquer Terrorism

Opinion - One of the biggest talking points for any Western leader is how they want to respond to terrorism. For many in the United States, terrorism became a reality when planes flew into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing over 3000 civilians and first responders. The fear in the following days was tangible - they attacked our family, our friends, our nation. About three-fourths of the nation approved of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, showcasing the attitude of defense in our nation. No man should have hurt us as those terrorists had, and we were willing to send our brothers, fathers, and sons to battle to fight. 
 
Now, in 2017, over 50% of Americans think the war in Iraq was a mistake. In a very divided nation, Republicans and Democrats bitterly fight over domestic and foreign policy, with a prime example found in the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Accords. However, it should not take a terrible attack from al-Qaeda or ISIS in order to unite Americans against terrorism. We should be able to address and solve the issue before civilians are killed, because America is a place for freedom, not for fear. In the words of FDR, “the only thing to fear is fear itself.” Unfortunately, we can write all the nice things in the world, and we can quote all the catchy sayings of wise men, but there is an evil entity rising with the intent to destroy us. Until we address that entity by using every resource available, our government will never be strong, and our people will still live in fear. America will not be free until every person addresses the real threat.
 
So what is the real threat? Many conservatives believe that radical Islamic terrorism and ISIS are the main terrorist threats to Western civilization. Liberals cite institutionalized discrimination as causes for terrorists’ isolation. Politicians argue the definitions and terminology of terrorism while intelligence officers compile profiles and reports, but nothing is ever solved. That’s because the fight against terrorism cannot be carried out solely by our leaders and military. There may be camps to bomb and areas to invade, but the real fight can be found in each and every community. We the people have to condemn terrorists, as a country and as a people who want to live in a land of freedom. We could blame organizations, peoples, and even religions for our problems, but that is neither constructive nor beneficial. Change starts with us. 
 
It is high time that we fight the instance, not the trend. For conservatives, that would mean fighting the terrorists, and not the religion. The majority of American Muslims are moderate in their religious beliefs, and conservatives should battle the extreme factions, not sentence the entire religion as lost. For liberals, that would mean fighting each discriminator, not the institution they they may fall under. I would like to think that American society could move on from an history of pointing the finger at someone else, instead dedicating ourselves to our Constitutional rights and enforcing them. Let’s partner as Americans, not separate ourselves by Muslim or Christian. Instead of Republican or Democrat and liberal or conservative, we must all identify as American citizens. When Kenyan Muslims were faced with terrorists’ requests to separate themselves by religion, they refused, an act that the Interior Minister applauded. In his press statement, he said that “we are all Kenyans and ... not separated by religion.” In the same way, we are all Americans; strongly held political views and religious beliefs should not separate us.
 
Unfortunately, Americans still die, and terrorism still exists in the countries where citizens defend their own. We cannot solely encourage people to protect their fellow Americans. As Hussein Aboubakr argues in his PragerU video, reform must come from within. We have to be willing to condemn and expel those in our own group, whether that means reporting suspicious behavior of fellow believers or preventing our friends from committing crimes. That means you could “betray” your own family, friends, and colleagues for the security of people you may never know. That is the cost of being free, of being an American. 
 
Of course, that doesn’t mean a McCarthy-like reporting frenzy where everyone is fearful to discuss ideas with friends. Reforming your community means when you and a bunch of similarly aligned friends go to protest, you also openly condemn violence, and help identify those who engage in it. It means that to protect your beliefs and freedoms, you have to condemn those who break the law under the name of your ideas, lest your entire organization be blamed for actions the majority of you disagree with. When President Bush gave his speech after 9/11, he said, “From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” I take this further - any person willing to harbor and defend those terrorists are part of the problem. It is our duty as American citizens to protect our freedoms, and if you chose beliefs over protecting fellow Americans, then you too are a terrorist. There is no middle ground. 
 
America is currently on its way to establishing a safe haven for terrorists. We have no concrete methods of preventing radicalization in our communities, and we take no countermeasures to encourage people to think of others before themselves as a society. With the rising rejection of simple patriotism, it is no surprise that people feel emboldened with killing and injuring fellow citizens. In order to prevent attacks on each other, we must first condemn the violence from within, reform our communities, and encourage American unity across communities. Only then will terrorism find its match.
 
Follow this author on Twitter @UCDavisEngineer
 
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The Birth of al Qaeda, Part One