It’s the day after the March 22 Terrorist Attacks in Brussels.
I just read an article on the Washington Post about would-be-presidential-candidate Ted Cruz saying law enforcement should ‘secure’ Muslim neighborhoods. That they need to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized” is part of the quotation.
Now I’m a bit perplexed because this doesn’t jive with a conversation I heard last night in the immediate aftermath.
In that conversation a ‘talking head’ was explaining the differences between Muslim communities in European countries and the USA and how their respective relationships with the national community worked for or against radicalization.
The gist of his argument was that in many European nations there are large communities of Muslims who feel distinct from the national populace through the forces of poverty, racism, language/cultural barriers. In these communities the people aren’t as disposed to talk with anyone from the government or police about the disturbing behaviors some of the unemployed young men might be up to. But in the USA the experience has been that parents, imams and community people with real concerns have felt okay to come forward to authorities with those concerns.
That made sense to me.
If people feel like they are part of the community at large then they will buy into concepts like civil obedience, obeying the law, and looking out for the community at large. If they have jobs they’re happy – if they don’t they’re unhappy.
If they can’t find a job they get depressed. If they feel shut out mistrusted, marginalized and segregated they get angry. These conditions are perfect for radicalism. Even if not all of them exist depressed, unemployed people can be persuaded the rest of those conditions do exist.
The talking head was trying to reassure the American news person that this difference helps insulate America from radicalism in a way that many European nations aren’t.
So what if the police followed Ted Cruz’s desires? More cop cars cruising more often.
What if you were a member of a minority and the government / police all of a sudden began patrolling your neighborhood more often. Began public outreach programs that showed how afraid they were of you, your family and friends. Would you feel more inclined or less inclined to go to them with your concerns about a sibling, cousin, friend, neighbor who is sliding towards radicalism?
I suspect most of you, if you’re being honest with yourselves, would feel less trusted by and in turn be less trustful of the government that did that to you. And feel that instead of getting help with getting your cousin back on the right path the government might be more inclined to put them on the path to Guantanamo instead.
Ted Cruz may be serious about his suggestion to police the Muslims better but he’s also running a political campaign. And statements like that are all about garnering sympathy (and votes) from the fear of a part of the population that should know better but for whatever reason does not.
If anyone needs more attention to keep them from hurting the rest of us with their radicalization it’s the politicians – especially those running for the candidacy of the Republican party in the USA. Not because of their party affiliation, this is the party of Lincoln after all, but because of the extreme statements coming out of their mouths. Words of fear, mistrust, anger and ignorance don’t jive with being the most powerful nation on the planet OR being the example of freedom and democracy for everyone else.