I would like to begin by commending Mr. Molnar for the rational and fact-based argument he presented in his previous article regarding the relationship between terrorism and Islam. I only take issue with the conclusion he derived from his argument, specifically that “current Middle East tensions have more to do with anger at selfish American interference and less to do with religion.” This, my friend, is a broad and oversimplified generalization of the roots to this messy situation we are in today.
I am not going to try and refute the historical evidence Mr. Molnar used to support his claim: America has intervened with Middle Eastern governments in the past, and generally these actions on our behalf have yielded more problems for us and the involved countries. This does not mean that other factors do not play a significant role in the problems that plague the Middle East today. Religious fundamentalism, ethnocentrism, fascist governments and failed economies are just some of these other factors.
Now I’m a little rusty on my political science, but I have been educated in this subject (a Collective Violence and Conflict Resolution course I took as a freshman with Dr. Arceneaux). People, specifically young men, become terrorists for a number of reasons. Usually, it begins with a lack of formal education as a child. Because they have little to no education, these young men struggle to make a living throughout their lives and often will become hopeless and despondent when they are unable to succeed financially. The absence of economic opportunity is strongly correlated with the command-oriented economies of the Middle East where financial success is hard to achieve. A command-oriented economy is often a product of an oppressive and fascist government in which individual freedom is severely limited (Taliban, Saddam Hussein). All of these conditions combined leave a young man feeling inadequate, hopeless and lost. Thus, he’ll turn to the one thing that always has all of the answers: religion. Specifically I am talking about religious fundamentalism which entails a strict adherence to the core fundamental values of the religion while being intolerant of nearly all other beliefs. This intolerance of differing beliefs frequently manifests itself into acts of violence.
Therefore, in the Middle East, when young men are hopeless and lost, they find the answers to all of their problems in religion, specifically Islam. This usually translates into Islamic fundamentalism. These hopeless young men dedicate their lives to their religious beliefs and are willing to do anything to answer the call of God. Now not all of the time, but quite often, these Islamic fundamentalists feel that a worthy cause for their God, their country, their family, and for themselves is to sacrifice their life as a terrorist in their Jihad, or struggle, against what they believe to be the forces which perpetuate the dismal state of their lives (i.e. America and most other Western countries). This, my friends, is a common way terrorists are created.
Now I’m not saying and I don’t think anyone else is saying that all Muslims are our enemy. But what I am saying is that our enemies right now happen to be Muslim. Notice the distinction? Let’s be real here for a moment and look at things for what they are: We are fighting a war right now against an enemy that is Muslim. We’re not fighting them because they are Muslim. We are fighting them because these people threaten our country and our way of life. It may be hard for many of you to accept, but a lot of the people we are fighting today want to see you, your family, your friends, your community and your whole way of life destroyed. They hate you. They hate me. It’s a fact. Don’t be blind to the truth of things. Don’t be overly sensitive. Just be real.
Angus Cannon is an economics junior and a guest columnist for the Mustang Daily.