As the UK and Afghanistan reel again today from yet another terrorist bombing (and who knows who it will be tomorrow?), the awful thought occurred to me: perhaps Trump is right. Perhaps it is a Muslim problem that we face.Why is the US not being attacked?
What prompts this thought is that the US – while its citizens seem to love to shoot each other every day…which has about the same effect as the terrorism in the rest of the world – doesn’t seem to be suffering from these terrorism attacks. And the terrorism attacks do seem mostly to come from people who are Muslim, whether born overseas or born in the country of the attack.
What is the US doing right to avoid being attacked externally? Surely it is the major target for Muslim extremists, angry about Western capitalism. Why don’t attacks appear regularly in the US?
Perhaps it is because US security levels are better. We all hate going through US airports, because of the extremely aggressive physical and mental security checks which are made, but perhaps they are necessary, or at least a sufficient deterrent, for external terrorists.
Perhaps it is because the US has much easier borders to defend, having borders with only two countries, plus the sea, whereas most countries have borders with several different countries. But that argument is patently not true, because the Mexico border leaks like a sieve, though Trump plans to stop that route.
Perhaps it is because the US visa system is superior. You do need a visa to get into the US, whereas in Europe and many other places, the visa process – if it exists at all – seems like a complete sham.
Perhaps it is because terrorists fear what might happen to them if caught in the US. But, since most of them blow themselves up, that can’t be true.
Why are the attacks occurring?
Europe does seem to be a key target. But bombs in Indonesia, Kenya, the Middle East, the war countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, northern Africa) as well as foiled attacks in other countries suggest that terrorism is widespread. The issue seem to be largely alienation, religious brainwashing or deep, hidden personal issues. There seem to be more in the UK than Europe generally. Is this because the UK is the English-speaking symbol of American capitalism, or is it due to a reporting bias of English-speaking newspapers?
Is Trump right?
Social democrats hate to admit anything that Trump says or does is right. I reacted angrily when a close friend suggested the problem was Islam. Just because you are Muslim doesn’t mean you are, or will be, a terrorist or even a sympathiser. Many of the Middle East suicide bombers attack Muslims indiscriminantly – so it seems unlikely that the issues are so broad, any more than arguing that all Christians support the current or past wars involving the US or Europeans.
But most of the bombers do seem to be Islamists. So it’s no surprise that Trump might want to ban Muslims from entering the US. It might seem like a sensible outcome of this analysis.
Let’s hope not…
Luckily, at the moment, those in the line of fire are generally arguing for peace and not for retaliation (which is what Trump would do, has done). Luckily, we seem to believe they can’t kill all of us, so we want to get on with our lives, not cower in fear. How brave of Ariana Grande to go back to Manchester to repeat her ill-fated concert.
But, at some point, if this continues, the argument for religious discrimination may become compelling. After all, early in my lifetime, I was told never to go out with a Catholic girl (and she was told never to go out with a Protestant boy). That’s not quite ‘war’, but it severely limits social relations. I’m glad I didn’t really listen, though I still fear the organisation called the Catholic Church, given all it has done to its own people, and I don’t understand how thinking people can support it in any way.
Trump has quite a number of sensible policy points (opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership, NATO and UN members needing to pay their way, concern for those left behind, supporting American jobs over foreign jobs), as well as a lot of truly horrible ones (his approaches to the environment, climate change, abortion, taxation, healthcare, the role of women and many more).
I don’t know how to deal with terrorism, but as a world, we have to address it. Shooting people, more weapons, more security, more travel restrictions just don’t seem the ways to go. The experts suggest the problem is ‘alienation’ or ‘radicalisation’. These require complex social welfare solutions, not simple law and order, just as, after 50 years of ‘the war on drugs’, we are realising this is a social and health problem, not a legal one.
Let’s hope that soon, the world – including Trump – find methods to proactively address whatever the real problems are and not simply react to the symptoms, which is what these bombings are.