Threat of Domestic and International Terrorism 

Threat of Domestic and International Terrorism

Led by David Shaheed – Marion County Superior Court and Douglas Hairston – Mayor Ballard’s Front Porch Coalition

Some recurring themes form the four discussions of terrorism included:

Perceptions. Many thought the news media are not being objective: for example rather than using religion as a personal identifier of someone who commits a terrorist act, they equate the religion with terrorism in general. News outlets focus on sensational stories, on negatives rather than highlighting positives. The way terrorism is defined in the news, they treat very differently Muammar Gaddafi and Benjamin Netanyahu. Some noted that the news media pay little attention to right-wing terrorism.

Religion. Terrorism’s goal is to strike fear rather than to encourage us to love one another; thus its goal is to blunt the basic commandment of many religions. This led some to say that the way to combat terrorism is to hold onto our faith, not to fight faith vs faith. But that can be hard, especially when Muslims and others believe that in the news media and consequently in popular opinion the equation is made: Terrorism = Islam. It’s a distortion of Islam, although it was countered that some Muslims seem reluctant to discuss aspects of the problem. It was pointed out that Muslims are actually far more likely to be the victims of terrorism than they are to be the perpetrators, which led to the reply that Christians are being targeted explicitly by ISIS, which led to the observation that ISIS is still killing far more Muslims.

History. Many participants said we all need a better, more accurate understanding of history, both in the US and in other countries such as the Middle East. Actions by the US in the Middle East, it was said, can help explain the hostile feelings some people have, both for the US and for its allies. A participant thought we need to have much better textbooks that “tell it the way it is, not the way it is being told.”

Discrimination. Several thought that the way terrorism is being addressed today is discriminatory, perhaps to take resources away from people of color. Fear is driving public policy, but it hurts different groups in different ways. Several mentioned how travel restrictions and the inconvenience of airport security unfairly target minorities. “I shouldn’t have to prove myself not to be a terrorist just because of what I wear or where I come from.”

Solutions. As expected from the diagnosis of the problems of how terrorism is being perceived and fought, many thought there have to be changes in the way terrorism is covered in the news: less broad-brush blaming of particular religions like Islam, more coverage of positive developments. Someone said that one percent of the defense budget could solve serious social problems that contribute to terrorism, so why don’t we do that? Several thought that a step in the right direction is for more people of different religious and political views to talk openly with each other.



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