“Is the Word ‘Extremism’?” by Andrew Schatkin

In a previous essay, or, rather, blog, I critiqued n very interesting essay in the Jesuit journal America in the January 21, 2019 issue entitled, “To Support and Defend,” by former Governor Tom Kean of New Jersey. The article in its subheading says “The fight against extremism is not over.” The governor argues that terrorists cannot be defeated only by force but rather the United States needs a preventive strategy to mitigate the political, economic, and social causes of extremism. Governor Kean cites 9/11 to confront the growth of extremism by expanding educational opportunities; fostering economic development; and encouraging a more open, tolerant society; and to engage vulnerable youth and promote women’s leadership. Second, Governor Kean suggests targeting local programs to dissuade individuals from joining terrorist groups. Third, Governor Kean suggests obtaining donations. Fourth, Governor Kean recommends high level diplomacy.

I found Governor Kean’s essay in its suggestions and in its analysis helpful and pointing to directions that could and may well provide a solutions to this problem. Let me say that I have no prejudice or hostility to our Muslim brothers and well know that these acts of terrorism are only the actions of a small minority in the Muslim world and that the great percentage of Muslims are hard-working, law-abiding individuals. However, I suggest that the governor misunderstands this particular religious movement and its cause and the reasons for it. Within the Muslim religious, political, and cultural societies in certain countries there is an idea that non-Muslims should not be tolerated. This is a small minority movement but it is a religious/cultural/political ideology. This ideology takes issue with Jews and Christians. Coptic Christians are attacked and persecuted in Egypt by Islamic extremist. Nigerian Christian villages are attacked. Christian countries as the US and Europe attacked. This is not I think a matter of extremism, but understanding what I have just suggested, there is a religious and political genesis for these attacks. The issue is a matter of thought and embedded beliefs. Israel has been under attack by its neighbors for over 50 years. It is quite clear that arrest of law-violating terrorists has not provided a solution to attacks, as they have been consistent and have not ceased for over 20 years since 9/11. Quite clearly, the present strategies have not proved successful since the attacks and problem continues.

The left ideology and the mainstream media have been in a form of denial of this issue for some time. Earlier, they spoke of gun control as the solution; said the terrorists were mentally ill; said the incident was isolated; and the terrorist was radicalized. They spoke of a van or truck attack often in reporting the matter and sometimes failed to report the matter at all. I have no issue with the left ideology and the mainstream media. There is much good in them. However, the left ideology must face the reality and what I think is the cause of these attacks by some small percentage of Muslims in the world. It is obvious that they are not going away and in fact appear to be increasing and continuing. For example, there was the Christmas market attacks in Europe; the anti-Semitic attack in Paris long ago; and other events, such as those that occurred in Kenya where 15 people were killed. There was also a plot of a man to attack the White House. These are just a few of the many anti-Christian and anti-Western attacks that the mainstream media either ignores or under-reports.

I recognize that evil can come from any source or system of thought if adopted and manipulated. I only say that the truth and root of the problem must be recognized and the terminology of political correctness no longer provides an answer or solution. I only ask that the left and all of us reject a solution based on political thinking that takes all of us nowhere. As a Christian, I have nothing but the love of Christ for Muslims created in the image of god and who have an eternal destiny. But I urge our government and the Muslim community to deal with and properly grasp what is happening. I do not know the solution but provide here a suggestion to understanding this problem.