There is no issue with calling terrorism radical Islam. The issue lies in the fact that many people, including our republican nominee, don’t know anything ABOUT radical Islam, so there is a risk that people who don’t know what they are talking about will say radical Islam and just hear “Islam.” This isn’t just an issue because “oh peace and love not all Muslims are bad let’s hug.” No, this is an issue because it is factually incorrect and is not helpful for us to get this confused.
Radical Islam is a disease with a lot of socio-political and economic causes, but very few religious causes. If a Muslim boy reading the Quran and takes it as an invitation to go on a killing spree, it has a LOT more to do with what’s going on around him than it has to do with what’s in that book. American leaders seem to try and throw a bone to this idea once in a while, but they don’t really get into how complicated this issue of radical Islam really is and what its causes are.
As a result of this, a small but important percentage of Americans now exist who ACTUALLY believe that we are in a holy war against Islam. This is a problem. Because terrorists in the middle east also believe that they are in a holy war against the west. So if we’ve got a very real group of Americans who have never been explained by their world leaders the reason that people are blowing them up other than either A) these are a small random group who have nothing to do with Islam but I’m not going into any more detail right now let’s just stay calm (Obama) or B) “Islam hates us” (Trump), who have never taken a class on Political Islam, who, as a result of their ignorance, start to believe that Islam is the devil’s religion out to destroy us, and there are people in the Middle East who, as a result of socio-political isolation and economic desperation and confusing and conflicting concepts of national identity, are convinced that America is the anti-Christ (trust me, I’ve seen the Facebook comments, this IS a thing), then we are just going to stay in this illogical and deadly cycle.
This is scary and sad but it’s also a shame because our leaders should do a better job of discussing radical Islam and its causes in a way that actually educates Americans. We should also do a better job of educating ourselves. If a leader of this country gets on stage to discuss the issue of radical Islam and never brings up the after effects of colonization, does not bring up the oppressive regimes of the gulf states and how they got there, does not bring immigration laws and the complex relationship between France and North Africa, doesn’t bring up OIL and America’s role in it, does not bring up Muslims countries forced economic and political dependence on the West, does not bring up our naval bases, does not bring up Ghadafi, does not bring up drone strikes, does not bring up Egypt’s military, does not bring up America’s interference in middle eastern democracy and self-determination…well then we’re going to get nowhere because we are completely missing the conversation and any chance to solve the problem. We’ll just keep believing that “Islam hates us” as Donald so ridiculously phrased it, because let’s be honest, as he says over and over “he doesn’t know what’s going on.” This issue is, there ARE people out there who DO know what’s going on. There are studies done. Research reported. Statistics given. If you want to know why Muslim youth is being radicalized, there are real and raw answers out there for you. It’s not some mythical and scary reason. It’s not some dawn of the apocalypse. It’s just socio-political-economic explanations that are quite logical such as poverty, issues of identity and isolation in immigrant societies, the effects of American capitalism and entertainment in foreign countries, neocolonialism, war, perceived persecution, perceived helplessness, a misunderstanding of western values, and dissociation from mainstream society.
Radical Islam harms everyone, helps no one. But citing a few verses of the qur’an that sound scary and banning Muslims from the country isn’t just hurtful and insulting, it’s ineffective and missing the point.