Violent Extremism

I see in the news that President Obama will hold a summit for the purpose of fighting terrorism. Terrorism is referred to by a pseudonym, ‘violent extremism’.

Renaming it bugs me. Why do we redefine everything? We invent new words for old problems, in order to spin the issue in a new way. Most of the time we really aren’t doing anything different, other than changing the vocabulary to create a different impression.

In this case I can’t help but suspect the desired change is to take the focus off of Islam, to leave the faint suggestion that any belief is dangerous and can become violent when taken to extremes.

Breaking the connection between Islam and terror might not be that easy though. This morning ISIS has released an edited version of a previous warning, calling on Islamic people in in Western democracies to actions, similar to France. So apparently ISIS sees the connection, whether we do or not.

 

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Culture of Distrusting Government

New York City, like too many places in our country, has seen division created by racial tension. This division has erupted in violence that has destroyed trust, common sense and in the worst cases entire neighborhoods. All this destruction has a real cost on society, but especially on the people and neighborhoods affected.

The destruction stems from people making decisions about events they have no first-hand knowledge of. They assume a suspect was treated a certain way because of racism. Second-hand or third-hand reports of the situation are mixed with basic assumptions about the shape of society to make an explosive mix.

Many of the protestors, bloggers and commentators have painted the police as the villains. I believe the majority of law enforcement officers are honest, fair people attempting to do an extremely difficult job well. I don’t doubt that some will make horrible mistakes. Painting an entire group by the actions of a few is exactly what we are all against. Failing to see the police as people worthy of respect and assuming them to be villains has resulted in many needless confrontations and at least two deaths.

In a sense it all comes down to which group a person chooses to make negative assumptions about. And if you look at it that way, the central point becomes why do we make the assumptions we do about any group? I believe the way news is presented is a part of it. I believe history is a part of it, too. Unfortunately, I also believe, in recent times, presidential politics is a part of it. The president has waded into a number of situations in such a way as to exasperate the situation. It is sad when the highest elected official in the land contributes to the cultural distrust of government.

Truth Seeking in Ferguson

A few points about Ferguson gleaned from the morning news.

This morning I watched video, reported to be from last night, of a crowd marching on a police line chanting ‘Hands up, don’t shoot.’

The governor of Missouri and the feds condemned the release of a video showing the robbery with someone resembling Michael Brown stealing cigars.

The feds are planning to perform a third autopsy on Michael Brown hoping to come up with a result that will satisfy the crowds which have rioted every night in Ferguson.

One point from yesterday’s news.

The arrests made over Saturday night were fewer but also were predominantly non-residents.

The number one question that should be asked at this moment is, what really happened in the Michael Brown shooting? The media and the public have fallen in love with a version of the story that is incomplete. They are in love with thinking that Michael Brown was the innocent victim of police brutality. They are in love with thinking the police cannot be trusted to investigate the event. And the political activity around the event is aimed at appeasing the crowd rather than seeking the truth.

People who want to know the truth, do not seek it through inciting violence and looting. People seeking truth do not rebel when evidence points to a conclusion they didn’t want to hear. People wanting to protest peacefully will organize their protests in the daytime rather than in the night.

Ferguson is a town that has been victimized. Possibly the start of it was when Michael Brown was murdered by police. But it is also possible that Michael Brown was interacting with the police in exactly the manner that justifies the officer defending himself. If this is the case then the bigger problem started with witnesses not understanding what they saw, the media reporting what they have not understood and the public jumping into a situation they did not fully understand.

Truth takes time. Incendiary actions stand in the way of truth.