Is anyone seriously surprised by terrorism attacks anymore? Sure, the initial shock of this happening stays with you for a while but it goes away. Normalcy returns. Yet somehow we are still not at the point where this becomes something we shrug off as just another news story. I suppose this is a good thing, but I am not in any way confident it will stay this way.
The story is becoming all too familiar: some ‘radicalised’ group of ‘youths’ from a ‘particular-part-of-the-world’ whose beliefs ‘have-nothing-to-do-with-religion-especially-not-THAT-one-religion’ manage to commit an act of terrorism killing and injuring hundreds. These same group of youths we find out were known to security officials but not thought of as a threat ‘at the time’.
Let us consider a thought experiment for a moment. Say there was a group of purple people. One day, I meet a purple person who punches me in the face and walks away. The next day, the same thing happens. The following day, the same thing. Now, it would be illogical for me to say “every purple person punches me in the face” because I have not met every single purple person there is to know. However, it would be perfectly logical for me to say “every purple person I have met punches me in the face”. Would it not also be logical for me to use some caution given my experience with such people so far? Perhaps, one day I walk down the street and see a purple person coming towards me. I look at them and tense up as they walk past….but they do nothing but smile. I certainly would be relieved to not be punched by this person and it may even give me pause to be hopeful that not all purple people will punch me. Yet was I wrong for being tense as they approached given my past experiences?
“If purple people keep punching me in the face when I meet them, is it so wrong for me to tense up whenever I see one?”
Well, the Government’s and peoples of the Western world seem to think I would be an absolute bigot and racist to think such an awful thing (and deserving of criminal prosecution for hate speech/thought). So much so it seems it would be better to keep getting punched in the face: ‘look how high and moral I am not to judge a group of people too harshly’. Fair enough, but in the case of the above thought experiment, let us say the one purple person who did not punch me was a bit of an anomaly. The next day, I walk down the street only to get punched in the face again. Would it be wrong for me to give pause and reconsider these people? Say it happens again, and again. Perhaps I change the street I walk down (how dare I think such a thing!). Nope, more purple people, more punches. Soon enough I will no longer have much of a face left to hit.
Maybe this is just some cultural misunderstanding? Right? Is it wrong to try to explain to them this is not acceptable behaviour here? Or maybe I should be flattered because this is how they say ‘hello’? When I try to ask a purple person (one who does not punch me) about this odd behaviour I am considered a bigot and racist to be asking.
“I am not like those purple people, I do not do that, we are not all like them,” they say.
Interestingly, my question goes unanswered. I want to know why it is most purple people I meet end up punching me in the face. Yet I cannot ask this question nor will I ever get an answer to it. So I am left annoyed, bruised and frustrated with the purple people, my Government and people who think I am reprehensible for asking such things in the first place. And so, I continue walking down the street, getting punched in the face more and more often. Though not always – those are the good days.
“Today, we manage the problems, we do not actually solve problems.”
At which point does enough become enough? Or do I just keep walking down the street, head down, hoping today will be the day nothing happens or perhaps I meet a nice purple person again (who are nowhere to be seen).
Donald Trump was rightly criticised for saying he will stop immigration from Muslim countries. Yet as Ed West notes there is a correlation between immigrant populations from Muslim countries and the risk of terrorism. Say we stopped all purple people from being in the country? Suddenly I am no longer being hit in the face. Odd? Sure, this means the nice purple people are no longer here as well – they never did anything to me. Although I did find it odd they never seemed to do much about stopping those other purple people who do.
Want to stop gun violence? Have no more guns! Want to stop plane crashes? No more planes! Want to stop car crashes? No more cars!
There is a certain logic to this: if x causes y (and y is a bad thing we do not want happening), then get rid of x; no more x’s – no more y’s. Duh! So we can say this is true, but when it comes to enacting such a policy – actually DOING something – then reality is a wee bit more complicated. Then we just try to do more to minimise x in order to reduce the risk of y happening. Today, we manage the problems, we do not actually solve problems.
But we cannot think or say such things as this. Instead, we have to keep getting punched in the face over and over again. Why? Because we are (understandably) afraid to make the bad choices – so people die. The worst thing about it if history is ever an indication? The choices we are able to make today – the ones we really, really do not want to make – are so simple and easy compared to the ones on the road ahead. We look back, sometimes with disgust, at the choices our ancestors made. How could they do such things?
Our choices will become more difficult, but we still have time – we are not there quite yet.