How You’re Letting the Terrorists Win

Written By Emily Tate - Thought Catalog:

Our generation seems to be drowning. No, screw that, the whole world seems to be drowning. Day after day we are flooded by the news of another extremist attack, of another terrorist groups making advances, of the seemingly imminent and inescapable reality of the twenty first century. We sit here, powerless behind screens or with our noses within the pages of a newspaper, with fear in our hearts and desperation in our minds; paralysed with hopelessness and helplessness. It’s almost apocalyptic by nature and no governmental organisation seems to be pointing out the most painfully obvious truth. Indeed, they to seem to be running from this imaginary monster, what the media serves to us as this growing epidemic of terrorism. And yet that is so far from the truth and so far from what is real and true and, frankly, basic fact.

Terrorism, by definition indeed even by its name, is the use of terror and violence in order to achieve one’s political aim. And while in the countries where these groups are gaining ground, they pose a very real and shockingly significant threat to the general population (which, don’t get me wrong, must be addressed by global leaders), to those of us with the luxury and privilege of the first world, these attacks and these groups really don’t hold any power. Yes, individuals are becoming increasingly radicalised online, but can’t you see that it's your fear and its consequential prejudice that is causing this? These very individuals are the ones who feel isolated and alone in a society which labels them as terrorists or extremists for believing in a perfectly acceptable and, indeed even peaceful, version of a religion. They seek any kind of political outlet to fuel these frustrations and the devastating cycle begins. It is your fear, and you allowing this fear to cloud your better judgement, that creates any of it.

Do you have any idea how easy it is for IS or another group to claim an attack carried out by an individual when that individual has since been killed, either in the so-called ‘suicide mission’ or by police officers later? There is no one at all to dispute this and yet no one to confirm it either. Despite this, the media scrambles onto it like a half-starved dog who has been offered a bone. They see the potential for a  sensationalist, cover page story and jump onto it before anyone can confirm or deny anything, and before you know it the entire world is discussing this young man or woman who was converted to extremist Islam and joined a particular terror group. When, in actuality the said individual had no ties whatsoever to the organisation; it’s simply a way for them to obtain publicity and serves to give the media a ‘cover page’ worthy story, a win-win situation. Only, it’s not. What about us? What about the misled direction this leads politicians in? What about another Muslim kid who now feels more alone than ever in a whitewashed society that fails to acknowledge that he is not related to any extremist group any more than a white Christian is connected to the KKK? Funnily enough (or rather completely obviously considering their agenda)
the media doesn’t show the full backstory, the ongoing racism and blatant discrimination endured by an individual that pushes them towards such violent, desperate actions.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way justifying these actions. But please, please consider the ramifications of your actions. The real war on terror should be fought in our streets, in our homes and in our schools. It’s no longer justifiable at all to allow such acts of discrimination to continue, nor to allow ourselves to believe in these racist generalisations. We are simply fuelling, albeit indirectly, the cycle off of which these terrorist groups feed. We are letting them win, adding fire to their flames. Of course, there are problems overseas and, believe me, that is a relevant issue which needs to be addressed, even solved, as soon as possible. But that’s not what the vast majority of the population is concerned about, it seems too far off to be real. No, most people worry about the threat to their own safety. Only they contribute to this threat by concerning themselves with it and allowing this to guide their actions rather than understanding, compassion and empathy. Let’s put the human back into humanity.