Terrorism: Right and Wrong


There is a lot of talk about Terrorism and I feel compelled to say… something. Mind you whatever I say is in all likelihood of no significance. I’m at a great distance, very safe, very secure, and basically in no danger. Same goes for everyone I know. None the less I feel like writing about it so here I am.

The Right: All I can say that I know is true is so obvious it’s of little interest. Most feel sorrow and sympathy with the victims. Most of us feel angry at those who perpetrate these crimes. We don’t want any more of it. There is also very little most of us can do about it.

The Wrong: Everything else. What I mean to say is that many of the insights, opinions and conclusions folks bloviating on the internet make are almost always going to be wrong. Sometimes subtly, sometimes monumentally. A big part of that is because its a complicated thing. There are many people and groups involved. I read two very good articles recently. One pointed out how ISIS is a deeply religious organization and to understand it you need to understand the religious views. (Read it yourself) Another pointed out how many of the fighters in ISIS are motivated not by religious beliefs but a desire for something resembling self rule or sovereignty. (Read it yourself)

I think the most wrong are those that presume that tough talk and posturing is somehow going to make ISIS scared and they will go away if we just show them how scary we are. That to me is as naive as thinking they will just go away on their own. People who go on suicide missions are not frightened of getting killed so tough talk about how we will kill them does nothing. There is nothing simple about this problem and nothing simple will solve it. We won’t know the real solution until its already happened.

But like scientific discovery we have no choice but to be ignorant and yet seek the truth. Likewise in this endeavor despite not knowing the answer, we have to look for it and try to make things better. I don’t think America or other countries can solve this. Ultimately this is a crisis of the middle east and it has to be solved there by its people.

I could say that our opinions don’t matter, but they do. What is happening in the middle east has our finger prints all over it. It is not that your bold statement will change the world, but American politics do follow the American political mood and culture and our individual voices are what that is made of. We should neither see ourselves at the center of this nor think we are without responsibility.

Here is my final advice on all this. Stay informed, when you think you have something to say, say it. Stand by your convictions, but keep an open mind and an open ear. When you are faced with the choice of confrontation or engagement, favor engagement. Finally, if you really want to help directly, make a donation to a charity helping victims of the violence. You can’t go wrong with that.


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