Imagine your mother waking you in the middle of the night telling you to quickly grab your things. You are confused and scared because you don’t understand what is happening. Your family is grabbing what they can and trying to escape to a nearby town to hide. As you get outside, you see men getting out of trucks in the distance and forcing their way into homes. All of a sudden, your brother runs back inside the house to grab his dog—then the building explodes from a drone strike targeting the men in the trucks.
This scenario is all too real for many people living in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries being overrun by radical Islamic groups. Many Christians and peaceful Muslims in the Middle East are in constant fear of the Islamic State’s brutality and acts of terror. Beheadings, hangings, bombings and mass executions are all possible fates of the people of Syria—just from walking out their front doors to go to a market. Sadly, the risks stretch farther then the hand of the IS. As many as 1,000 innocents have been killed by miscalculated airstrikes from Western forces targeting the IS.
In the United States, we often take our safety for granted. We have many laws and restrictions protecting our freedoms and rights. When that freedom is violated by terrorism such as the Orlando nightclub shooting, it becomes understandable that Americans would cry for war. But when you look at many terror attacks, the assailants don’t expect to come out alive. Which brings up the question: how do you threaten to kill someone who’s not afraid to die? That’s what war is, right? Causing so much destruction that hopefully the enemy gives up? But what if the enemy doesn’t care how many die for their cause?
First, we cannot demonize Muslims in the United States. They are humans, like anyone else. They bleed like anyone else, they feel like anyone else and love like anyone else. Denying a person constitutional rights of freedom of religion is unAmerican and shameful. I once saw a post on Facebook about “not importing your enemies." It was referring to Muslims. What the person who created that post didn’t seem to realize is that many Muslims come here to the US to escape those who are our enemies—our enemies are also their enemies. Of course being careful is important, but those of us in America who adhere to a different belief system cannot treat Muslims like they are any less human then the rest of us. Islam itself is not our enemy. Radical Islam is our enemy, and radical Islam is not true Islam.
Radical Islam is not a place on a map, it can’t be identified by looking at someone and it can’t be bombed. It is an ideology. An ideology fueled by hatred and ignorance toward those who IS believe to be the enemies of Islam. So how can you destroy an ideology? Bombing an outpost and convoys can weaken forces in certain regions, but the ideology still remains.
While listening to an interview with ex-CIA agent, Amaryllis Fox, she said that if you asked someone on the street in Syria or Iraq why the West was dropping bombs they would say, “they were waging war on Islam.” That part was what really got me thinking about the countless civilians in the Middle East who have lost love ones to miscalculated airstrikes, and how they view the west. How can someone in that situation believe that we are the good guys?
To kill an ideology, you must start at the roots. Physical fighting seems necessary now, but unless you destroy the hateful ideology of the IS, the real war will never end.