Column - Hearings should include all roots of violenceConducting a congressional hearing about the ways in which Muslim Americans become "radicalized" is, in my opinion, a perfectly legitimate undertaking. But, whoa! I must quickly add, not if the hearings are going to be limited to "just" Muslims.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
Conducting a congressional hearing about the ways in which Muslim Americans become "radicalized" is, in my opinion, a perfectly legitimate undertaking.
But, whoa! I must quickly add, not if the hearings are going to be limited to "just" Muslims.
One of former Pres. George W. Bush's finest moments was right after the 9/11 attacks when he urged all Americans not to blame Islam or its adherents for the vicious acts of a handful of terrorists.
His words of wisdom are increasingly being ignored. There is a worrisome trend nowadays to blame "outsiders," "foreigners," "immigrants" or anyone who looks "different" on this nation's problems. The congressional hearings, focused solely as they are on Muslims, only exacerbates other prejudices, such as "they're taking our jobs" and "they get special favors" and "they don't respect our Christian traditions." Such prejudices feed off of one another.
However, that said, I think it is a good idea – a long-overdue good idea – to have a series of congressional hearings about the root causes of terrorism and the forces that threaten our national security, including the question of how Muslims in America and throughout the world, for that matter, become radicalized. We know it happens. It is a very unsettling fact.
But we also know – or should know – that terrorism is by no means limited to Muslims. We should also know that so-called "Muslim" terrorists use a twisted version of their "religion" to put their hatred into practice. It's the same way some Christians use twisted interpretations of the Bible to justify killing abortion providers.
We have probably become used to thinking of terrorism in terms of falling buildings because the images of the Twin Towers falling were so horrible they have been tattooed on our minds. But it's easy to forget there are forms of terrorism that happened before and after the awful events of 9/11.
There was, for example, Timothy McVeigh who blew the Oklahoma City Federal Building to smithereens. He wasn't a Muslim. There were the school killings in Columbine. Those two butchers weren't Muslim. The man who recently killed people at a political gathering in Tucson isn't Muslim.
One could argue those murders were not, strictly speaking, "terrorist" acts. But I would argue they are. The Tucson killer, for instance, has succeeded in bringing fear to elected officials and their supporters – whether he meant to be a "terrorist" or not. Same with the Columbine killers.
The point is, so many horrors that happened in this country, acts of terrorism and random mayhem, have nothing to do with Islam or Muslims. Why limit a hearing about the roots and causes of terrorism to Muslims?
These hearings could prove to be valuable if they included, along with the topic of radicalized Muslims, the following subjects: para-military "survivalist" groups, white-supremacist hate groups, so-called Christian groups that advocate violence against abortion clinics and doctors, and extremist anti-government groups.
Some of the questions the committee hearings should explore are these:
• What effect does the Internet have on spreading lies, distortions and extremist ideologies to individuals and groups who use or advocate violence?
• What effect does relentless bullying have on young people who either commit suicide or lash out and kill others?
• Are unbalanced people spurred to action by the inflammatory statements made by politicians or famous people, such as rap singers?
• What societal forces contribute to feelings of alienation and rejection by so many individuals who join hate groups?
The poisonous roots of violence in this country – in this world – are socio-economic, political, theocratic, militaristic, sexist and familial. To concentrate only on Muslim radicalism is not only short-sighted, it is counter-productive, and it is insulting to the millions of good Islamic citizens everywhere.