So why is your baby boomer aunt posting racist articles about why we should not let Syrian refugees into U.S. boarders? And why is your friend from high school, who has never been anywhere besides their home town, insisting on talking about how you should not grow out your beard too long because people will think “you’re a damn Muslim”? Most importantly, why are Muslims in this country being pointed out and banned from stores, becoming victims of violent hate crimes, and getting unpleasant stares when they practice their religion?
It seems that history is about to repeat itself; one country is making a figment of hate out of another to rally a supporting war cry from their people. But for what? As educated students and faculty of a college, we have a duty to be asking the questions no one else is. Instead of wondering what we should be doing about the attacks like everyone else, maybe we should be asking why these “terrorist” acts are happening. Most of the time, the answer is in the why.
We should first start out with defining terrorist. A terrorist is someone who creates violence as a fear tactic in order to gain power for a political ideology. So yes, the recent attacks in Paris were technically a terrorist act, but no one is talking about the Paris Massacre of 1961 when the Parisian gendarmerie (riot police) attacked Algerian Muslim workers in a part of their own suburbs for peacefully protesting for workers’ rights, and ended up killing 200 people.
Or how within 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has killed at least 165,000 innocent civilians. The Western world has been dominating Muslim countries since the late 1700s. I mean, England has at some point invaded every country in existence except for a fortunate 22. They have suppressed countless cultures, took advantage of many peoples, and pillaged thousands of miles of resources for their own benefit; and other Western countries, including the United States, are not doing any better.
Imagine if invaders from another country came into the streets of Radford and insisted on us accepting their form of government and religion under threat of death or detainment? Would you not be angry that the invaders did not give you a right to choose your own country’s destiny? Would you not fight back?
Like the old saying goes, there are always two sides to every story. It is important to think of these events in very relative terms, because which side is “good” and which one is “bad” is relative to what side you were on when the bombs hit. So when your aunt is talking your ear off about how she is glad stores are closing their doors to Muslims, tell her that she is being extremely racist. Because to generalize all Muslims (which is a religion not a race, by the way) is to completely ignore the diversity and the peaceful teachings within Islam.
And if you ever find yourself agreeing with war propaganda spilling from Republican politicians’ mouths, remember that no one wins when lives are lost. We should be asking why these attacks are happening and negotiate peacefully to make reprimands with each other. Because as Millennials, we have a duty to be educated on all sides of world events and to always ask the most important question: why.
Published by Radford University’s The Tartan on Jan. 12, 2016