“War on Terror”, “War on Drugs” and “War on Poverty” are just a few examples. Trump recently launched a “War on the Media”, followed by Sam Harris, who joined the party with his “War on Ideas”.
Poverty, drugs, terror, media — Johnson, Nixon, Bush, Trump. US Presidents have a tendency to declare war on things. After 40 years of lost battlefields and constitutional failure, people somehow still believe that war is the answer. So let´s start with Nixon…
The War on Drugs
In 1971, Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one”. 40 years later, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a critical report on the “War on Drugs”, declaring: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”
According to Human Rights Watch, the War on Drugs caused soaring arrest rates that disproportionately targeted African Americans due to various factors. John Ehrlichman, an aide to Nixon, said that Nixon used the war on drugs to criminalize and disrupt black and hippie communities and their leaders.
And because everyone knows that the outcome of the other three I mentioned was equally devastating, let´s talk about the latest “war-list” contribution?
The War on Ideas
Sam Harris, the well-known neuroscientist, writer and Islam critic likes to talk about radical Islam. He also likes to talk about what he now calls: “The war of ideas”. Well, if you call something war, it´s radicalism too. To be fair, he said: “You don´t fly drones to solve this problem,” which is true, of course. But why calling it war then? He was also against the Iraq war and he calls for “reforming Islam with the help of Muslims”.
He also wrote books about the evils of Christianity. He once said: “The Catholic Church “evolved” because it got hammered from the outside and the scientific community,” which is also true. And yes, in this case hammered means solved through bloody wars. But to believe that this would work with Islam too is the reason why we have to talk about war itself. People can´t just blame the rise of radicalism on Islam or the Koran itself without taking a look at the foreign “policy” of certain countries.
It´s not radicalism that causes war, it´s the war that causes radicalism.
Is there a relation between Islam and fundamentalism, sure. Is the Koran a violent book, sure, but so is the Bible, which, to stay fair, Harris acknowledged several times in the past. But the question is: Why do people decide to take the book´s violence literally in the first place? A Bible freak who would like to see gay people burn in hell wouldn´t walk the streets setting people on fire, but he probably would, if his family had been killed by gay people.
Or, for example, why do people in jail “find to god”? Because they have nothing else to hold on to. If you grow up in a country that has been bombed for decades, you might have nothing else to hold on to — or nothing to lose. If you know nothing except violence, that´s when you decide to take the book´s violence literally.
What I´m saying is: Every action is a choice, and choices are affected by life-changing instances like war, loss, or hate. But the thing is:
You are not born with hatred, you are raised in hatred.
For Example: You are not born into this world and the first thing you wanna do is to set an American flag on fire. You grow up, 5-10 years go by with no hate whatsoever. Then your father finally decided that you are old enough now to know that your brother has been killed in a drone attack 5 years ago. Now you seek revenge. That´s when hate replaces reason, and that´s when radicalism steps right in. But you might just think about it, until one day you walk into the wrong mosque where someone preaches about the holy war against the Western world. And an instant later, you find yourself sitting on a bus with a vest strapped around your body, waiting for to right moment to feel the satisfaction of revenge, even if it´s just for a split second.
Despite the fact that Baghdad was once the intellectual center of the world, there is a fundamental misunderstanding here. A very smart person once said: “As long as one half of the world lives in the 21st century while the other half lives in the 5th century, there will never be freedom.” But this raises the question: How can you evolve — or re-evolve — if you get hellfired back to the Stone Age every 10 years? Well, you can´t. It´s a horrible bloodstream that goes from war to hate to radicalism right back to war. And as long as we are stuck in this loop, there will never be peace. And as long as we declare war on everything, nothing will change.
Are there fundamentalists who can´t be convinced or educated anymore? Yes. Why? Because the circle of death already started again. The next generation is already affected by violence and hate — again. And the generation after that one will be affected — again. The ultimate goal is to break that circulation, otherwise the aftermath of collateral damage will cause the rise of more hate groups in the future — again.