What Can We Do in the Face of Such Hate?

We can mourn for the three cities that were attacked: Beirut, Baghdad, and Paris.

Image is a black background with Beirut, Iraq, Paris, and Syria printed in white block letters. The i in each name has been replaced by a lit white taper candle.
Image via Eva Pagiatakis on Facebook.

We can extend our empathy and aid to the survivors of these attacks, and to those refugees fleeing the terrorist violence Daesh has caused in Syria and other parts of the Middle East.

We can remember the ordinary people who become heroes in these moments, like Adel Termos, who sacrificed his life and his daughter’s to save others.

Image shows a man in a white shirt and dark pants holding a young girl in a frilly white dress. They are leaning against a fence, with a black backdrop. Someone has added a jungle plant frame with a tropical bird.
Adel Termos and his daughter. Cropped image from Mic.com.

We can realize that many of those heroes are themselves Muslims.

We can recognize the fact that terrorists claiming to be striking in the name of Islam represent the tiniest fraction of Muslims, and overwhelmingly target and murder Muslim civilians. We can avoid blaming all Muslims for the actions of a few.

We can fight hate with love and solidarity. We can refuse to let terrorists dictate who and what we love, who and what we fear, where and what we do. We can fight them by refusing to be afraid, and by keeping any military response measured and narrowly-targeted, rather than wildly striking out at anyone and everyone who is or merely looks Muslim.

We can refuse to give Daesh any iota of respect, beginning with calling them Daesh rather than their preferred name. We can recognize them not as a political entity, but a criminal enterprise. We can refuse them the recognition they crave.

We can recognize that these attacks are meant to divide us, and that part of their goal is to drive a wedge between our cultures. We can refuse to be divided. We can refuse to attack the innocent, instead directing our anger where it belongs: to the actual terrorists. We can call out the xenophobic among us who will use these attacks to fuel their own narrative that all Muslims are bad. We can resist the calls to bomb entire countries and communities for the actions of a rogue few.

We can realize that “Nothing could be more devastating to [Daesh’s] plans than for the West to embrace its peace-loving Muslim citizens and join with them in denouncing this kind of racist, divisive, violent evil. Well, one thing, maybe: if the West could also find some way to scale back its relentless aggression and exploitation of the Middle East.” We could do these things, and thus remove a huge proportion of Daesh’s power.

We could take this pledge against Daesh, and in doing so, cripple them in ways that no military campaign could ever achieve.

We could take this moment to make the world a far better, kinder place, rather than assisting Daesh in tearing it apart.

Above all, we can remember that we’re all in this together, and together, we can make it through.

We can do all of these things.

Will we?

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What Can We Do in the Face of Such Hate?
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17 thoughts on “What Can We Do in the Face of Such Hate?

  1. 1

    What can we do? Whatever we can which may not be much.

    We can offer condolences and sympathies for what little they are worth, express our feelings and send virtual ((hugs))) to those who want them. We can listen when appropriate, speak out when appropriate and do whatever we can individually as best we can individually our personal circumstances allowing.

    Also we can understand this; the Da’esh terrorists want us to fear and hate so much we lose our minds. They want to use their mass murdering crimes to manipulate our emotions into creating more of what they want – horrors and deaths and destruction. We should not oblige them.

    Pledge against Da’esh :

    You want us to be afraid? We will not be afraid.

    You want us to hate? We will not hate.

    You want us divided? We will unite more than ever.

    You want us to attack and blame the wrong people who have no link to you other than fleeing your evil? We refuse to do so.

    You want us to call you “Islamic state” and see you as “warrior” enemies? We will call you by the name you like least and think of you as what you are; vile criminal douchebags with delusions of grandeur.

    You want to be taken serious by all your murders and atrocities? We will defeat you with the ridicule and disdain and contempt you deserve.

    You have taken some lives but you cannot take our freedoms or our nature or our joie de vivre.

    To all your cruel and brutal of your carnage against innocents, we will respond with cool and firm determination against you and warm compassion and defiant aid to all those you seek to harm.

    This we pledge. I pledge. And we shall prevail over you Da’esh. Because united we stand and love wins.

  2. 2

    D’oh! I should click the links first really shouldn’t I? (Blushes.) Thankyou Dana Hunter.

    Will we?

    I hope so. It up to us to choose wisely.

    For all the horrible things and nastiness in the world there is also so much good and so many good people standing up to do the right thing by others and the rest of the world too.

  3. 3

    It should be kept in context that ISIS, or Daesh if you would rather, is simply not attracting the sort of participation necessary talent and population necessary to make their caliphate viable in the long term. Yes, people are flocking to them in the thousands, and that is problematic in a world where one can kill many, but literal millions are running away from the caliphate.

    Reports are that ISIS is having trouble finding suicide bombers, and that a good number of them have fled the cause. As long as they were seen as an unstoppable winning force, presumably because God is on their side, people were willing to sacrifice themselves. It is much harder to explain to potential suicide bombers how they are special and part of God’s team when dozens gave their lives in a futile attempt to capture Kobani. Everyone loves a winner.

    Similarly the population within the caliphate are seeing the religious rules strictly enforced while simplest of welfare concerns go untended. Trash doesn’t get picked up. Sewage runs in the streets. Taxes are increasing and medicine is impossible to get. There are precious few paying jobs other than front line fighter, suicide bomber, or religious police and those few positions that pay are forced to pay increasing shares to the caliphate. People are voting with their feet. To keep this from happening Daesh towns are being surrounded with barbed wire to keep the population in while increasing numbers of fighters are forced to act as prison guards.

    This trend is unsustainable in the long term. The caliphate will not fall quickly, and it can do a lot of damage to the world in its death throes, but the trends are pretty clear that it is a failed state.

  4. 5

    I am rather horrified that the French reaction to attacks on civilians in a French city is to bomb a Syrian city. What the fuck is this, WWII? News for the French: emulating Bush is hardly a sign of strategic or political vision.

  5. 6

    SteveOr: You want us to call you “Islamic state” and see you as “warrior” enemies? We will call you by the name you like least and think of you as what you are; vile criminal douchebags with delusions of grandeur.

    Because flying state of the art military aircraft in strikes against irregular infantry on the ground is a sign of universal warrior virtue? Using night vision and satellites to fight enemies who have neither is ‘bambi versus godzilla’ courage, for sure.

    It’s vile criminal douchebags all the way down.

  6. 7

    Raqqa, a city of 200,000 or so, is now without power due to French airstrikes. Apparently in addition to hitting ‘ISIS Headquarters” they hit a hospital and a sports stadium.

  7. 8

    We can remember the ordinary people who become heroes in these moments, like Adel Termos, who sacrificed his life and his daughter’s to save others.

    The linked story has been amended to say that it’s likely his daughter actually survived (though not confirmed). If true, that’s at least one more bright light in all of this.

    On another note, this is sadly the first I’ve heard that there was an attack in Beirut as well. Thank you for reporting that when so much of the mainstream media seems to be ignoring it.

  8. 9

    Unfortunately, as I see it, we only have three realistic* options:

    1) Do nothing. If this is what we do, then these attacks will simply continue on into the indefinite future. Their strategy is to do something so outrageous that they goad us into a ground war, and I doubt that they will run out of explosives or suicidal young people any time soon. And it doesn’t matter how good our intel is — even if we stop 99 attacks, it only takes one getting through to do a whole lot of damage and bring them more recruits, so they have a strategy that’s working for them — why should they ever stop?

    2) Keep on dropping bombs indiscriminantly on suspected terrorists and civilians alike. The advantage is that this may make some of our people feel better. The disadvantage is that this does absolutely nothing to degrade their ability to carry out attacks against us — you can’t bomb a whole country into submission — and for every actual terrorist we kill, we help them recruit two more due to outrage at the collateral damage.

    3) Boots on the ground. If we’re really serious when we say “Daesh is evil and must be destroyed,” this is the only way to do it that doesn’t involve finding a magic genii ring. Of course, just like the first two options, this is what Daesh think they want. Unlike the other two options, though, in this case they’re wrong — they think that, if they manage to get all the other countries in the world to team up against them, then Allah will intervene and the prophet will return amid all kinds of pyrotechnic coolness. In the real world, of course, if everyone unites against them, they will get squished. But that isn’t really an upside either, because once again this means we’d be stuck with another ten or twenty or thirty years of occupation and gradual attrition. Also, squishing their little empire won’t stop the terrorist attacks either — having a friendly base of operations is a handy thing to have when you’re a terrorist, but it isn’t essential.

    I’m not recommending any of these three options — I think all three of them are terrible. I wish I could see another one, but I can’t.

    * Unrealistic options: One would be to get somebody else — maybe other middle eastern countries, maybe Russia, maybe Europe — to march in and handle the mess for us while we twiddle our thumbs. First, I have a lot of trouble envisioning this happening, and second, much as we’d be likely to mess everything up if we went in, I can’t help thinking that somebody else would mess it up worse.

    The other unrealistic option would be to hope that someone — moderate Moslems, Santa Claus, I don’t know who — could get across some kind of meme that would fight radical Islam from within the Moslem community. Of course, there are plenty of moderate Moslems who would love to do just that, but Daesh has done such an effective job of terrorizing them as soon as they stick their heads up that many of the most influential ones are afraid to speak up, and who can blame them?

    Back when this all started, I thought it was foolish to fight a war of ideas with guns and bombs. But I’m afraid we’ve gone too far down that road now to turn around. And there are plenty of things that might have helped if we’d done them back in the 90s — using our clout with Israel to force a resolution to the Palestinian problem, for instance — that would be too little, too late now.

    If anyone else sees a different solution than the ones I’ve laid out, or is more optimistic that one of them might work, please let me know — I could use the cheering up.

  9. rq
    10

    It’s never too late to stop the bombs. No such thing as ‘too little, too late’ when it comes to the random loss of civilian life. The plenty of things that might have helped in the 90s will still be useful now (unless it’s just a different version of more guns and bombs), though, yes, admittedly, they might have less immediate impact and might take more effort to implement. Doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be tried, or developed to fit today’s context.
    How about asking people who actually live(d) in those areas, who might know what kind of assistance to offer or what NOT to offer or demand? How about providing them with the support and the resources (whether in their locations of refuge or on the ground) to deal with it themselves?

    The other unrealistic option would be to hope that someone — moderate Moslems, Santa Claus, I don’t know who — could get across some kind of meme that would fight radical Islam from within the Moslem community. Of course, there are plenty of moderate Moslems who would love to do just that, but Daesh has done such an effective job of terrorizing them as soon as they stick their heads up that many of the most influential ones are afraid to speak up, and who can blame them?

    I’ve seen plenty of moderate Muslims speak out against Daesh and this latest attack on Paris, as well as condemning Beirut and Baghdad and asking for more compassion for refugees.

    And can I just say how creepy this:

    force a resolution to the Palestinian problem

    reads?

  10. rq
    12

    And from the article, speaking of radicalization,

    In any case, if Middle Eastern and Western governments alike fear the radicalization of Syrians, showing them compassion and generosity in their hour of need is a far more obvious strategy to address this fear than forcing them to choose between fighting or capture in Syria and possible death if they leave.

  11. 13

    There is a difference in degree and the Western militaries are targeting militaries unlike Da’esh who are murdering ordinary unarmed civilian people not soldiers or their leaders.

    The words ‘criminal’ and ‘warrior’ have meanings which are different meanings. You seem to be trying to make an equivalence here which i really strongly do not think is right or fair

    Also how exactly would you solve the problem of Da’esh’es terrorism? What course of action would you advise to dealing with the sort of people who just struck in Paris? (& Beirut & have been committing appalling crime sin Syria and Iraq since Da’esh came into being.) Seriously, Marcus Ranum, please?

  12. 15

    I also like & agree with what Alex Gabriel wrote on his FTB blog here :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/godlessness/2015/11/16/the-rights-of-muslims-dont-rest-on-islam-being-sacrosanct/

    “..there is nothing ISIL will ever do for which individual believers half the world away are culpable, or which justifies fascism or McCarthyism. (Could ISIL hope for anything better than mass hostility to Muslims in the west?) It’s possible to see religion as one cause of attacks like last week’s, in a vast, complex nexus of factors, and know Muslims fleeing ISIL don’t deserve to be punished, hounded or harassed. …(Snip!)… Muslims don’t deserve to be treated as human beings because their religion is a squeaky-clean monolith of peace and love that never produces anything bad  —  they deserve to be treated as human because they are, and because no amount of harm a religion might cause makes all its followers responsible.

    I reckon that’s spot on.

  13. rq
    16

    Bombing a city of 200 000, just like that, doesn’t sound particularly targeted towards the military. Especially if hospitals and sports stadiums are being hit as ‘collateral damage’.

  14. 17

    And can I just say how creepy this:

    “force a resolution to the Palestinian problem

    reads?

    I figured my post was already plenty long. But back in the 90s after Camp David fell through, I thought that perhaps the best way to resolve the issue would have been for Israel to say “Look, if we can’t agree on a set of borders for a Palestinian state, then we will unilaterally draw up borders that we think are fair, and basically impose statehood on you. We’ll try to make sure that you get all the international help that you can to establish yourselves, just as we were given help back when we were established.” It wouldn’t have been a perfect solution, but it would have been a heck of a lot better than the situation we have now.

    Unfortunately, by allowing their horrible settlers to plop down communities all over the place and forcing the government to commit to defending them, I’m afraid Israel has made the Palestinian state far more difficult than it would have been back then. And that’s the only solution that ever made sense.

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