After the Brussels Attack, We Can't Respond to Terror with Hatred

As the world falls deep into mourning over the tragic attack on Brussels, all eyes have turned toward finding a solution to stop the flow of terrorism. World leaders have released statements, expressed their condolences, and begun to seek out solutions to the rising threat of terrorist attacks. In the United States, the presidential candidates have jumped on the horrific attacks as a means of pushing their respective plans to bolster security and fight back against ISIS. Already, the loudest voice in the aftermath of the tragedy has come from Donald Trump. Shocker. In the hours following the attacks, Trump wasted no time calling into Good Morning America and Fox & Friends  to call Brussels a “total mess,” reintroduce waterboarding and other torture techniques, and reiterate his commitment to closing the borders. Just like they were months ago, his ideas of how to fight terrorism are still absolutely wrong and will just serve as a recruitment tool for ISIS.

“This is just the beginning. It’s just going to get worse and worse because we are lax and we are foolish. At this point we cannot allow these people to come into the country. We are allowing thousands and thousands of people to come into our country and we don’t even know where they come from and who they are. It’s time to look carefully,” he said this morning on GMA.

Security forces stand guard as Brussels reacts to the terrorist attacks.
Security forces stand guard as Brussels reacts to the terrorist attacks.

The key point he’s missing with his “closing the borders” ideas is that in the San Bernardino and Paris attacks last year, almost all of the terrorists were of European or American descent. In California, Syed Rizwan Farook was a U.S. citizen, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, was a permanent resident who initially came to America on a fiancé visa. In France, most of the terrorists grew up in the suburbs of Brussels, Belgium, and Paris. Only one is believed to have been a refugee, but his identity remains unknown because his passport was stolen. In regards to the attacks on Brussels, the identities and nationalities of those involved aren’t yet known.

Contrary to popular thinking among Republicans, ISIS is not representative of the Muslim community. Last week, the Secretary of State John Kerry released a report showing that the terrorist group has committed genocide on Shiite Muslims as well as Christians and Yazidis. By shutting down the border to Muslims, Trump will play right into the hand of ISIS by creating an anti-Muslim rhetoric in the name of safety that, again, hinges incorrectly on the idea that the terrorists in Paris and San Bernardino could’ve been stopped if the borders had been closed. The real problem is that by keeping people out through strict border policies, we’re creating a climate of fear and suspicion against a group of people not seen since the McCarthy’s Red Scare.

Crowds walk away from the airport where terrorists set off bombs as part of an attack on Brussels.
Crowds walk away from the airport where terrorists set off bombs as part of an attack on Brussels.

Donald Trump’s idea of creating surveillance programs, ID cards, and other Islamophobic methods of protection against the Muslim threat play into a narrative that creates a hostile environment to Muslims who either immigrate to America or were born here. But his ideas and hostility aren’t unique to America, either. Anti-Muslim sentiment has spread across Europe and created a breeding ground for ISIS to recruit terrorists.

“The roots of radicalisation are complex but relate in part to the social exclusion of immigrant communities,” explained Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth. “The persistent discrimination, hopelessness and despair that pervade neighbourhoods on the outskirts of some European cities, and particularly the disjuncture between expectations and prospects among subsequent generations.”

A victim near Maalbeek metro station in Brussels.
A victim near Maalbeek metro station in Brussels.

As we look to Brussels for answers, the solution will not come from closing off borders and letting fear replace compassion for the Muslim communities that are suffering alongside us. As one Belgian-Muslim explained about the climate of fear and suspicion he and others now live with, “This has only filled us with hate.” By reacting to terrorist attacks with fear and hatred, we are doing exactly what ISIS wants us to do.

Stay tuned to Milk for more on this developing story.

Images via Getty, Huffington Post, and Business Insider.

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