For at least the next couple of weeks, everyone’s attention will be on the horrific events that happened in Brussels today. Our politicians and conservative pundits have already seized the opportunity to promote a message of fear and hatred towards Muslims – which is exactly what the attackers want.
The cowards who brought bloodshed to Brussels and Paris know they cannot win when faced with the military might of the countries they are targeting. Just as Osama Bin Laden knew Al-Qaeda couldn’t ever hope to take down the United States through military force, ISIS/Daesh is counting on the reaction of people to isolate Muslims from the West and back towards their fucked up interpretation of Islam.
To be blunt, nothing is better for radicals and their attempts to recruit disenfranchised youth to their disgusting cause more than the ignorant cries of Americans who suggest the answer is a world war against Muslims. They love people like Donald Trump who are demonizing all Muslims for the horrific acts of a few evil people.
ISIS/Daesh recruiters can just take the comments of Donald Trump and America’s fanatical religious right to create one propaganda video after another. They do not have to make up anything. All that is needed are the rants of Trump or his supporters, and it will be enough to convince young Muslims that America hates all those who follow Islam.
This convinces angry young people in Brussels, Paris or San Bernardino to grab a gun or strap a suicide vest on themselves and kill dozens of civilians in the name of their religion. In other words, we’re playing right into the hands of radical Islam whenever we stereotype and isolate those who see the West as an enemy to be destroyed, rather than a friend with outstretched arms waiting to welcome them to a culture of opportunities and tolerance for all – religious or not.
In the coming days, the media frenzy will cover the Brussels attacks breathlessly. Here in the West, the calls to reject immigrants escaping poverty and radical Islam will undoubtedly grow. Politicians will demand walls, and they shall call for more war. The most ignorant among us will say that the solution to our problems requires bombing the Middle East off the face of the globe, ignoring that more Americans are killed every year by gun violence instead of foreign terrorists.
If we want to stop radical Islam, all of the bombs in America’s arsenal cannot win the hearts and minds of the 1.6 billion Muslims on our pale blue dot. We have to bring people into our cultural melting pot, not cast the majority out for the actions of a few.
The answer to the attacks in Paris and Brussels is not more war, hatred and discrimination. Now more than ever, we must embrace people of all beliefs. We have to show them love, acceptance, and help them find economic prosperity which will neutralize the sick campaign of radical Islam. More hatred cannot stop hatred, only love and tolerance can – no matter how hard it may seem.