For years, the issue of terrorism has been the fuel for political fires. It’s about time people started thinking before they say “radical Islam.”
One of the fall back positions of many candidates and politicians on the right side of the aisle is to point out that the current administration has issues with using the term “radical Islam.” It plays well with their base, which has been perpetually ginned up about the dangers of terrorism since 9/11, and falls in place easily with short-sighted policy talk on immigration.
Unfortunately, that also means that they are being counterproductive in the actual work of combating the problem they claim isn’t being addressed.
There is a tactical reason why this administration doesn’t talk about radicalism – it is a multi-faceted tactic, with multiple reasons why it is used. Ironically enough, it is first taking a page from the book of the George W. Bush administration, in the sense that it is carrying on a form of intelligence operations that were used in the early days after the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. “Winning the hearts and minds” of the masses in Iraq was the goal, and now it is coming to light that there was a long-standing PR campaign run by civilians to attempt to accomplish it.
That operation is under scrutiny now because of rules against our government feeding propaganda to our own citizens. However, while some of the information used on the ground in Iraq might be considered exactly that, the underlying strategy of winning the minds of followers of Islam who are not radical is definitely acceptable. Obviously, that would be very difficult if our president and his administration were running around calling out against radical Islam on a regular basis, because as we already see among many people on the right, lines become blurred between general people who follow the Islamic faith and radicals. There is no incentive for those people to speak or act against radicals in their midst, if they believe that the U.S. government will not differentiate between them anyway. Arguably, the government is not only trying to win the trust of the Islamic community in America, but it’s also trying to undo the damage done by hate-filled vitriol from the right that equates non-radicals with radicals. If more people on the right would get over their issues with media and entertainment from the left, maybe more of them would see that the claims about Islamic people not assimilating into U.S. culture are at least a little wrong.
Viceland followed a typical Islamic family in Dearborn, Michigan, over Ramadan. If we are brutally honest with ourselves, the complaints about clothing choices – and for many in this country they are choices – would be just as fitting against Americans with Scottish roots who choose to wear kilts on occasion. Since kilts haven’t been daily attire in Scotland for some time, this comparison is not off base.
Beyond gaining support of Islamic people in the U.S., and undoing the damage done by the right, another reason for not running around crying “radical Islam” all the time has everything to do with the terrorists themselves. Everyone who talks about radical Islam is adding fuel to the fire by legitimizing their actions. The point of terrorism is to instill fear, and it would be very difficult to achieve that goal if no one was willing to say anything about you or your beliefs. Minimizing the actions and beliefs of radicals is the real goal, and has been from the very beginning. This is not referring to how seriously our military or intelligence organizations treat these organizations. It is all about politicians, and the public.
Lionizing terrorist organizations only helps terrorists, period. Calling out about how important it is to talk about radical Islam only makes it more difficult to encourage non-radicals to act against those organizations and individuals. Bluntly, it says we’re afraid as a nation, and if a strong nation is afraid, how in the world can anyone expect that non-radical followers of Islam would feel empowered to act against terrorists?
Yes, this is all about psychology and sociology, which means that it is far too complex and nuanced to be the subject of sound bite politicking. Unfortunately, we can’t stop that from happening. The only thing we can do is hope that more and more people start to recognize the situation for what it is. Sometimes our leaders will say things that make absolutely no sense to us. When they do, instead of leaping to the assumption that our leaders have lost their minds, we need to think about why they are doing it. Don’t allow ourselves to accept the partisan explanations without thinking. With some notable exceptions, the majority of politicians in the the U.S. today have been avoiding the term “radical Islam” for some time now, even in the face of potential retribution at the polls. It hasn’t occurred to anyone that they must have a very good reason why?