Recently on The Daily Show, journalist Sebastian Junger and producer Nick Quested discussed their documentary Hell on Earth about the ongoing civil war in Syria. They made an intriguing comment about why ISIS terror attacks haven’t happened in the U.S. as much as they have in Europe:
“Thank God this country has been spared most of the kinds of attacks Europe has been suffering the last few years. The theory for why that is, is that the Muslim population in America has been really successfully integrated into our economy, our culture, our society. In Europe it has not. And I think the lesson for America is let’s make sure that we are as inclusive a society as possible, because that is actually what protects us from the kinds of violence, the tragedies we’ve been seeing almost every week in Europe on the news.” -Sebastian Junger, The Daily Show, June 7, 2017
I don’t know if that’s true. I wonder how integrated Muslims really are in the U.S. It seems to me we’re not doing the best job, though I have no idea how different it is in Europe.
What strikes me about this quote is that everyone wants a solution to the terror problem, but no on has a good solution. We’ve been listening to Donald Trump talk about how he’s going to destroy ISIS, as if no one ever thought of that. You can’t exactly bomb terrorism away.
Well, yes, there are places where you can. We’ve certainly bombed Afghanistan and Yemen and other places killing terrorists. But we’ve also killed civilians. While we did kill some terrorists, we fueled the fire that breeds more terrorists. And in the end you can’t completely eradicate terrorism with an army and bombs.
So it seems we need another way to approach it. Stopping people from becoming terrorists in the first place is one way to do it. It helps to not bomb innocent civilians, but it also helps if young, marginalized people are not radicalized.
Junger’s theory is that America provides enough opportunity and enough ways to pull Muslims into society that they’re not able to be radicalized. Certainly it still happens. We’ve had cases here in Minnesota. But, according to Junger, it’s not happening as much as it is in Europe.
Fighting a war by waging the peace.
It reminds me of American War by Omar El Akkad, which is effectively the story of an American being radicalized.