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Of Tolerance and Terrorists

Typical intolerant America. Any day now, there'll probably be a proposal for separate drinking fountains for terrorists.

by
Frank J. Fleming

Bio

January 11, 2010 - 12:00 am

The threat of the so-called “crotch bomber” has led once again to some of America’s worst impulses. Instead of pulling together after these trying events, people are calling for a certain group of people to be singled out and excluded. That group, of course, is our latest scapegoat: terrorists.

People fear terrorists, so they don’t try to understand them and therefore remain ignorant of their ways — or maybe people are ignorant of terrorists and thus fear them. What is certain is that the combination of fear and ignorance in regards to terrorists leads to hate. Unless the hate leads to the fear and the ignorance — or it occurs somewhere between the two. Anyway, whenever terrorists are brought up in this country, there is some sort of mixture of fear, ignorance, and hate, and it is eroding America’s soul.

Just listen to the rhetoric we often hear about terrorists:

“We should lock up terrorists.”

“Terrorists shouldn’t be in this country.”

“I hope the government is keeping a close watch on terrorists.”

“We should hunt down and kill terrorists.”

“I hope this restaurant doesn’t serve terrorists.”

“Terrorists shouldn’t be allowed to vote.”

“I don’t want my daughter marrying a terrorist.”

Does any of that sound familiar? Of course it does. Those are the same hateful things that used to be said about many other minority groups. It’s almost like we’re regressing. Any day now, there’ll probably be a proposal for America to have separate drinking fountains for terrorists. Haven’t we learned these lessons already?

How about instead of getting all worked up and screaming for blood, we actually think about things for a minute? I know there are those Bible-thumpers who are completely immune to logic, as they’re convinced that their invisible sky fairy told them that blowing up people is wrong, but hopefully you and I can be more rational about this.

Terrorists are people just like you and me. The difference is that they are people who like to blow up other people; that’s a cultural difference, something we should be sophisticated enough to overcome. I guess we “civilized” people have decided that those ways are weird and wrong; thus you see so many people thinking it’s okay to belittle and make fun of the most recent terrorist because of his exploding underwear. Yet we know if some indigenous people worked hard on some beautiful jewelry, it would be pure arrogance to just laugh at it and call it stupid. So why is it okay to mock the similar effort of terrorists in their exploding wearables?

Perhaps if we considered the ways of the terrorist, we might actually learn something. All of our advanced science tells us that overpopulation is a problem, but all this time terrorists have been directly fighting that very problem with their seemingly primitive technique of blowing people up. We have also just learned in the past century to conserve nature and not harm endangered species, but this was already something the terrorists apparently knew, as they only kill a species that is quite plentiful: people.

And while we feebly try to reduce our carbon footprints with recycling and other measures, the terrorists have been well ahead of us by completely removing carbon footprints by eliminating people. With our military strikes, we target combatants who all tend to be young males — the main producers in most societies.  Terrorists, however, go after non-combatants like women and children, whose deaths tend to destabilize a country’s economy to a much lesser degree. So while we may look on terrorists as primitive and barbaric, perhaps they have some wisdom we have simply forgotten in the West.

I guess many Americans are just scared because terrorists are trying to kill us, but can we really blame them for wanting to attack us when we celebrate their deaths and always portray them as villains in movies and TV shows? It’s time to end our visceral, knee-jerk, negative reaction to them. Luckily, we now have a president who will finally treat terrorists like human beings.

Obama has vowed to stop the bellicose rhetoric of the former commander-in-chief and is even working to give terrorists the same legal rights as all Americans. That’s because Obama is not a hater who condemns people just because they’re different or “society” says their actions are wrong. Why, back in Chicago, he was even friends with a terrorist. That’s the sort of tolerance America is supposed to be known for.

So I hope we can become a more caring society that accepts terrorists as our friends and equals. Yes, today if someone is identified as a terrorist, he isn’t even allowed to use public transportation or go to a public school. We can slowly change this, though, and then, finally, terrorists can fully be part of society and no longer have to hide. Then instead of having to conceal their bombs in their underwear, they can proudly wear them in full display to all. And we can finally live in harmony, blowing people up together in love and friendship.

Frank J. Fleming is the author of Punch Your Inner Hippie, coming November 11th, and the science fiction novel Superego, coming later this year, blogs at IMAO.us, is a writer for the creative agency Emergent Order, and wants you to buy his book.
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