Jean Barker

Taking the Low Road

2015-11-20 09:35

Jean Barker

Paris, Beirut and other places recently targeted by terror attacks will recover, but ISIS’s greatest weapon of all is still is still firing at the heart of America, and some Americans are turning the gun on themselves. This weapon is known as Terror, or Fear, and it’s deadlier than gunmen, and kills with slow poison.

Posturing governors of 26 (mostly red) US states have said they’ll refuse to allow Syrian refugees to enter their state. While they can’t actually stop them coming, the message has reached The House of Representatives, where a mostly Republican majority has voted to halt immigration and increase security measures (already punitive) applied to applicants from Iraq and Syria.

Today, Donald Trump crossed the Nazi line when he suggested Muslims should wear special badges and Ben Carson compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs. These are the two top Republican candidates. This is madness.

The ISIS Holiday Wish List: Granted!

ISIS doesn’t want justice for Muslims. They want money, and power, and there’s one way they think they’ll get it – by persuading the majority of Muslims, who currently revile them as hijackers of their faith that there are only two sides to the conflict.

To do that, ISIS would very much like the West to tell Muslims that they aren’t welcome on the side of freedom and democracy. This won’t radicalise everybody – certainly not the Muslims I count as friends – but most people of all faiths can be pretty stupid at times.

The more the polarised the debates and the wars become, the more chance ISIS (and whoever comes next) will have of drawing people to their cause.

What al-Qaeda did, that ISIS loves

Nobody would argue that the events of September 11, 2001 changed the USA for the better. It became more militarised, more reactionary, and famous for re-electing a president who launched a war on Iraq on a false basis, rendering an already extremist Middle East completely unmanageable and making America much easier to paint as the bad guy.

Many more than the original 3 000 people killed in the Twin Towers bombing died to avenge them, whether in bombings, military action or PTSD-related suicides.

What ISIS would love to see, right now, is an unjust reaction from the USA. And if Muslims in general, and Syrians in particular, are demonized as a result of fear, ISIS will be getting exactly what they were gunning for: a reaction motivated by what ISIS specialises in delivering: Terror.

The best revenge

If America and its allies want to win the war in the longer term, we need to refuse to let what ISIS has done cause us to stoop even half way to their level of toilet bowl rim underside scum.
Okay, so unlike Ben Carson, I know I don’t know enough about anything to be president, but my gut tells me that taking the high road will require complex strategy, courage, and the ability to think with our heads, and not with our broken hearts. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Those who lost loved ones in Paris and Beirut and Russia and Kenya and Nigeria, and who now feel unsafe in their cities, are going to need time – and some kind of action. That’s why the police and military action that took down the suspected “mastermind” is completely justified and necessary. It’s also why we should be bombing ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.

However the public, ethnically-tinged fear-mongering by US government figures, and the actions of the House is a horrible idea, and it won’t go unnoticed around the world. By reacting this way, America is in danger of being seen to renounce, on the international stage, the very things that give it a shot of defeating the terrorists.

I pray this opportunistic Republican posturing doesn’t become policy, because we truly can’t afford to lose sight of the key principles of liberty, equality and human justice that America supposedly stands for. These are the very things that the refugees fleeing ISIS will come to the USA in search of.  

Jean earned an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting and works in the LA film industry. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

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: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.



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