Responding to Terrorism

London vigil for the victims of the Peshawar school attack in 2014. Photo by Kashif Haque.
Written by BU News Service

The world’s attitude toward the spreading fear of terrorism continues to silence others’ opinions.

By Maxine Diehl
BU News Service

When the attacks in Paris occurred, the world erupted into an ambiguous overflow of emotions. There’s no right way to react in a situation like this, as logic is not a main concern in regard to terrorism. I’ll go out on a limb and say that we all care, but how we show that compassion is up to us.

I boarded a plane to Germany on Nov. 20, exactly one week after the Paris incidents and three days after a National Soccer match between Germany and Holland (which was cancelled). I felt sick getting on that plane, wondering if I would end up being attacked. In retrospect, it seems stupid — nothing was out of the ordinary about that flight. When I expressed these fears to my peers and friends, I was confronted with several reactions. Some vehemently said that we shouldn’t let the fear of one incident get to us. Others responded with anger, since so many people are killed in the Middle East every day and Germany is very secure. But a few not only agreed with me, but were even more afraid, refusing to even go near public places.

In the end, no reaction is any less valid than another. We all have a right to feel the way we do. Upon discussing the tumultuous events and perspectives, a classmate of mine accurately deemed the world’s attitude to be “care-shaming.” If we worry about our friends in France, Belgium, Germany etc., we are instantly accused of not caring about those in other places, like the Middle East and Japan. In a sense, we’re shamed for only caring about specific groups of victims and not the whole world. But if we try and live without fear and attend soccer games and concerts in the wake of terrorist attacks, we are said to be emotionally cold.

Being afraid of ISIS is a reasonable fear, but it is simply unreasonable to project that fear onto people because of their religion or nationality. We have to remember to be considerate in times of crisis, and not let our responses isolate minorities the way ISIS intends us to. We need to realize that while we have our own opinions, responding to attacks with hatred or close-mindedness only does more harm. This includes convincing yourself that Paris is the only act of terrorism in recent months, or ignoring other issues happening in the world. But spending hours scrolling through Facebook to make sure everyone you know was marked safe doesn’t make you weak, nor does respond to articles or tributes to Paris in an emotional way.

There is no inappropriate response to gruesome acts like those committed by ISIS. I needed to remind myself of that after I got in several fights because I was so convinced that some reactions were more appropriate than others. But I can now respect everyone’s right for their own opinion and have come to see several points of view. Some think that Americans only care about deaths if the victims were white, or that we need to prepare for war immediately. Some even say that Paris exhibits just how ignorant we are to death and murder as seen in the Middle East, and that Europe is too strong to be beat by ISIS.

We all come from different nationalities and backgrounds, so let’s remind ourselves that we express our opinions just as differently. Just make sure to keep an open mind.

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