By Rachel Popa
In light of the recent terror attacks in Brussels, the candidates for president on both sides of the aisle made statements regarding their personal plans to fight terrorism.
Hillary Clinton called for tighter security. Bernie Sanders urged people to come together to fight ISIS. John Kasich proposed forming stronger ties with countries affected by terrorism. To no surprise, Donald Trump demanded that we limit the number of Muslims coming into the U.S.
Lastly, Ted Cruz proposed that Muslim neighborhoods be patrolled to find possible threats, and to peg the attacks on “radical Islam.” Cruz’s proposal to patrol Muslim neighborhoods also mentioned how the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge the reality of radical Islamic terrorism by refusing to name it as such.
Both Trump and Cruz’s statements are nothing new in terms of their intolerance toward the Muslim faith. Every time a fundamentalist group like ISIS commits a deplorable act of terrorism, it is to be expected that candidates like Trump and Cruz will propose rash policies that stem from fear.
Obama’s response to the Brussels attacks included a plea against stigmatizing Islam, which consequently always follows an attack carried about by a fundamentalist group like ISIS. The fact that Trump and Cruz want to either bar Muslims from entering the country or infringe on their First Amendment rights to freely practice their religion, shows that a largely peaceful group of over 1.6 billion people have already been (and continues to be) stigmatized in light of the attacks in Brussels.
If I were a candidate running for president, I would take a stance that is a combination of Sanders’ and Kasich’s plans; we can’t let fear dictate our policy decisions, and we need to come together in order to fight those who wish to divide us.
Cruz’s obsession with the term “radical Islam” shows that he wants to solely blame the religion for the problem, ignoring the fact that those who join ISIS do not in any way represent what the Muslim faith is about. ISIS wants people like Cruz and Trump to think the way they do because it divides us. ISIS wants Muslims in the U.S. to be stigmatized because they do not follow ISIS’ skewed principles. Giving into fear and ignorance gives ISIS what they want.
Our leaders need to be making alliances with Muslims all over the world in an effort to show ISIS that their fear mongering will not work. Our leaders cannot stoop down to ISIS’ level and create fear in order to divide people.
If we cannot recognize that we are stronger when we are tolerant and when we work together, then ISIS wins. We cannot let them win.