Monday 16 November 2015

Responding to the terrorist attacks in Paris

A friend posted on Facebook today:
The hard question is, if bombing them (etc) in retaliation isn't the answer, then what is?
Here's my response:
I think (recent) history makes it pretty clear that bombing will make things worse. Therefore, the least we can do is do nothing: at least that won't make stuff worse. It's not like we actually have to make an active response to everything that happens (or even that we do...), although doing nothing may not 'fly' very well politically in France right now.

In terms of things that would be actually positive, I think we need to show that we care about the people who are victims of the crazy wars going on in Yemen, Syria etc. at the moment.

At a political level, that means things like:
- spending money on feeding refugees in the countries around Syria (the World Food Programme has recently had to cut everyone's rations in recent weeks as governments - like ours - aren't giving them much money) and providing whatever else they need;
- actually allowing medical supplies in Yemen. There's a blockade of US and its allies (which is a bloc that has NZ's moral support, if not practical support in this case) so nothing can get in. At the same time that the Saudis are bombing the heck out of them. I heard a doctor speaking on the BBC about amputating kids limbs without anaesthetics.  It wasn't pretty.  He has to do that because our allies bombed those kids, then our other allies prevented the doctors having access to anaesthetics.

At a local level, that means things like:
- getting to know any obviously Muslim people that are in your daily lives (parents of kids at school, shopkeepers, whatever). As you get to know them, you'll probably start to care about them, and they'll realise that;
- resisting attempts to make Muslims unwelcome in your local community. To me a big one here is making sure Muslim women are welcome to wear the hijab in public places. If they're not, many devout Muslim women simply won't go to those places: to them, it'd feel just as immodest as being topless feels to your average Kiwi woman. Muslims need to know they're welcomed and part of the community in order to feel they have a stake in New Zealand.  Once they have such a stake, they're unlikely to want to destroy what's become their home.

I believe that ISIS has two recruitment strategies. One is 'if you don't join us, we'll kill you', but the other is 'look how much they (i.e. we) hate us (i.e. Muslim people) - you need to join us and destroy them before they destroy you'.

I don't have any bright ideas on how to combat the first, but the second would fall apart if the West actually showed they cared.

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