By Griffin Guinta
This past week in Brussels, Belgium, two attacks (one in an airport and one in a subway) took place, leaving 34 dead and 92 injured. In the wake of the attacks, new debates over the safety of the world have arisen, especially after the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility. Immediately following the attack, many took to Twitter with the hashtag #stopislam, with one even citing that “the world won’t see peace until Islam is wiped out.” Funny, that sounds a lot like ISIS’s mindset towards the rest of the world.
Make no mistake–I was as enraged as anyone upon hearing that another atrocious act of terrorism had taken place. ISIS is a monstrosity that needs to be dealt with once and for all. However, knee-jerk reactions aren’t going to solve anything. That’s exactly what any bully wants: a reaction. In order to defeat ISIS, we need to act strategically and rationally, even if they don’t. Now, rationality does not mean indecision. Every able nation needs to put selfish interests aside and prioritize international security. Luckily, it looks like the United States is taking their most proactive stance to date. “This is yet another reminder that the world must unite,” President Obama said earlier this week in a CNN Report. The President vowed to “go after” ISIS and heighten UN and NATO efforts to topple the terrorist group. As for the specifics of the plan, not much is known yet.
From a more personal standpoint, it bothers me that so many people immediately point at the religion of Islam itself as the reason for these attacks without basing it on any kind of fact. This is the type of rhetoric that fuels Donald Trump’s demands for all Muslims to be banned from the United States. It twists people’s minds and creates a scapegoat. Just like the Japanese-Americans who were living in America during the bombing of Pearl Harbor were not responsible for the attacks, the entire religion of Islam (comprised of about one billion people) should not be universally condemned for the actions of a radical, abhorrent group.
Defeating ISIS is going to take a calculated military strategy–there’s no doubt about that. But we shouldn’t overlook the fact that we everyday people have a say in the matter as well. ISIS can only stir fear and cause us to hate the world if we personally allow them to. Look how the people of Paris have responded with resilience in the wake of the recent attacks. Look at how we responded after 9/11. Yes, security measures were boosted dramatically and certain precautions that didn’t previously exist loomed large, but we didn’t let it prevent us from moving forward. We carried on in our daily lives because frankly we had no choice.
ISIS thrives off of media attention and propaganda. They want to paint a picture of a weakening Western world and disrupt all that they deem to be evil, which is essentially everything except themselves. The extremist will use any and every excuse to justify their appalling beheadings, rapes, and bombings. This is not a matter of religion; it’s an issue of power. You deflate the bully’s power by showing that it doesn’t affect you.
As we pray and mourn the losses in Belgium this past week, let us remember that this force is stoppable if the world gets on the same page to enact a feasible plan instead of quarreling about whether or not Islam is evil. Words matter. Don’t waste them.