How to Radicalize Someone of Islamic Faith

Cartoon by Adam Valenzuela

Cartoon by Adam Valenzuela

President Donald Trump has wasted no time in attempting to fulfill his campaign promises, no matter how constitutional they may be or how much they may cost the American taxpayers. The new administration of the Executive Branch of the United States government has decided that making laws should be their jurisdiction, and no longer a job for the Legislative Branch. One such law that has been deemed unconstitutional is the controversial travel ban that targets people from seven Muslim-majority countries that are nations of Islamic majority. While the ban is currently on hold due to a federal court ruling, Trump is attempting to pass the ban any way he can, and is in the process of constructing a newly worded executive order to achieve the same goal.

The president insists that this ban is absolutely necessary to defend the United States from foreign attackers. This ban has begun to cause discomfort in Muslim communities not only abroad, but domestically. The last major attack on American soil by a foreign terror group was 9/11, and it was executed mainly by militant extremists from Saudi Arabia, which is a country that is not even part of the ban. Conversely, Iran is on the list of nations that President Trump wants to exclude from immigration to the United States, and not one person from Iran has committed an act of terror on American soil. The terrorist attacks that have been carried out in the name of Allah since 9/11 have been perpetrated largely by American citizens, people born and raised in the United States. This radicalization of American Muslims is not going to decrease by banning people of Islamic faith; it’s going to skyrocket.

There are millions of peaceful Muslims all across the United States who were born and raised in the religion. For most, the Islamic religion is one of peace, and only the most extreme fundamentalists are violent. The same can be said of Christianity. It is a religion of peace that some people misinterpret and use to advocate hate and violence, making the rest of the believers look bad. There are over 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, as opposed to ISIS, which is estimated to have between 9,000 to 18,000 members. Judging an entire group of people that has existed for over 1,500 years based on a what few bad eggs from the last couple of decades have done in America is both absurd and dangerous.

Radicalization can happen for any number of reasons. This travel ban is only going to add fuel to the fire. Muslims who have spent their entire lives here and always called this country home with no connection to any other nation on Earth are now being told, “You are not welcome here.” Where are these individuals supposed to turn?

Propaganda is one of the most powerful tools to recruit individuals into a certain way of thinking, especially when that propaganda can be used on a specific group of like-minded individuals. Trump has not only made himself the enemy of people of Islamic faith, but seems to be doing everything in his power to make the United States of America the enemy as well. This is not the smartest move for a country with an estimated 3.3 million people belonging to the fastest growing religion on the planet.

This travel ban and the ensuing rhetoric coming from the White House regarding people of Islamic faith is a huge win for radical extremists. It will become a recruiting tool for those who now feel isolated and cast out from their communities. Causing more division and more hatred will only be a catalyst for more conflict. Not only is violence going to be encouraged more by extremists, it is already being encouraged against Muslims. Violence begets more violence, and already hate crimes have been more and more apparent in recent years with no reason to believe they will decrease anytime soon. Hate crimes against Muslims were up 67 percent in 2015, and have been climbing exponentially every year.

Those who support President Trump and his travel ban may have the country’s best intentions at heart, but the reality is that this is going to do the exact opposite of what it is intended. This is not making the country safer, it is making the country more volatile. This is what happens when policies are crafted out of fear.

The American people should be embarrassed by the fact that they are willing to give up essential liberties out of fear. The fact that they are willing to sacrifice the liberties and First Amendment rights of other American citizens because of that fear is downright cowardly. The same people who proudly cry out, “Don’t tread on me!” are the same who are quick to tread on others, and it would be foolish to assume there would be no backlash. This is not discouraging groups such as ISIS. It is only going to reinforce the organization’s rhetoric and increase its recruiting.