Editor’s note: Jessica DeLoach Sabin is a frequent contributor to Talk Business & Politics. Opinions, commentary and other essays posted in this space are wholly the view of the author(s). They may not represent the opinion of the owners of Talk Business & Politics.
Last week’s column was inspired by the recent terroristic activity that has made headlines across the world, and in that column I called for a greater effort to understand the political and religious intricacies and nuances that explain the rise in violent, phantom outbursts from a small sect of fanatics who do a great disservice to the Islamic faith. I called for this because of my deeply held belief that our world is interconnected in a way that many people fail to see and that those who fail to see it do so at our collective peril.
Somehow some readers received this request as a call to embrace Islam, and to those people I humbly ask that you go back and read the column again without emotional bias, if you can. That column was a call for something much greater and practical which is an inevitability that our nation must face if we are to truly fulfill our responsibilities in creating a safer, more stable world where chaos doesn’t erupt every time worlds collide.
Everything I wrote was done with the understanding that the mere mention of re-examining our circumstances with serious consideration being given to the world outside our borders would be met with reluctance and maybe even a bit of hostility. After all, what I suggested is that what stands in between us and a more peaceful existence may very well be our unwillingness to lower our gate and to walk outside of our fortress for the sake of a diplomatic mission that could pay dividends.
I never stated that we should embrace Islamic culture or faith and I will never tell anyone to write off or turn away from 23% (or 1.6 billion) of our world’s population. That would be foolish. In fact, that would be just as foolish as allowing oneself to live in fear of the sliver of that population that acts out against those to whom they are fundamentally opposed. Such a thought is almost as sad as finding every reason under the sun to treat those seeking to escape the turmoil created by radical terrorists as if they were less than human, compromised, and dangerous instead of at-risk, in need, and (for some) created in the image of an almighty power.
Instead, what I should have asked were the following questions:
Did you know that last week a top European Union official — Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission – noted that each of the attackers involved in the Paris massacre have been identified as European Union nationals? (Read here.)
Did you know that none of the ISIS-linked suspects who have ever been charged in our country came from Syria? In fact, a majority of these people were born in the United States. Of the 68 people who have been indicted due to alleged involvement in ISIS, only 18 have been convicted and have been given minimal sentences. (You can read more about this here.)
And lastly, did you know that Syrians must pass a minimum of 20 layers of security checks before being admitted to the United States? The first three of these layers involve the United Nations. Then we take over. Since 2011, the U.S. has admitted fewer than 2,000 Syrian refugees. Where was the outrage and fear then? (Here you go.)
There’s a really great study that was recently released by Pew Research gauging the attitudes of Americans toward their government. So much of what is contained in this report directly speaks to why our country is struggling with what our responsibilities are in regards to facing terrorism and aiding those directly impacted by the civil unrest in areas that serve as hotbeds for fanatic offenders. While there was bipartisan agreement that the federal government should play a major role in dealing with terrorism, only 34 percent of Americans said that they have a very great – or even just a good – deal of confidence in the ability of their fellow citizens to make wise political decisions. So, to say that another way would be to say “a large majority of Americans do not believe their fellow countrymen have the knowledge they need to make smart political decisions.” Also, 74% of respondents indicated their belief that most elected officials put their own interests ahead of what’s best for our country.
So this is where we are – grappling with our role in an international issue because we can’t get it to fit into a domestic box and where we no longer trust the instincts and intellect of each other and where we doubt the ability of those we elect to represent us to put our nation ahead of themselves.
Can such a bleak picture be true? It certainly explains the presence of the man dominating the GOP’s presidential primary polls. But such a candidacy will soon be found fleeting as Donald Trump is nothing more than a modern version of every insufferable, opportunistic political rabble-rouser in history. He is neither refreshing nor is he novel in his approach to running for office. But he certainly does deserve a pat on the back for his understanding of how to manipulate crowds into thinking he’s said a lot when he’s actually said very little in terms of vision. The groundswell beneath him can almost all be attributed to the political frustration outlined above and the ease that comes with giving over to fear and seeking shelter under words and phrases like “waterboarding,” “Muslim databases,” and “bomb the hell out of ISIS.”
We have made this mistake more times than we’ve owned it and look where doing so got us. Allowing fear to dictate our moral codes and policies is a move that will only serve to exacerbate the tragedy and violence that’s becoming commonplace in our world. It’s also about the furthest thing from patriotic that we can agree to do. By giving over to fear, we are giving in to the very people who live for our demise, and goodness knows we are better than that and deserve better than any political opportunist who seeks power by throwing gasoline on our burning uncertainty.