After 9/11 the United States received world-wide support with vigils, flowers, prayers and numerous other signs of friendship. In France signs read, “We Are All Americans.” Now, we in the United States are saying, “We are All French.” The supreme act of barbarism on Friday shocked the world and sent a message that there is no such thing as a safe place. It is not possible to protect cities in the United States or Europe from suicidal, marauding assaults by single-minded terrorists.
One extremist politician running for president of the United States called for bombing Syria on a wide scale with no concern for killing civilians. Unfortunately, the desire for blood is widespread. The call for sending US troops to Syria has intensified. I believe the first response to this horrific action is to think. This would deny terrorists their desire for a response of an angry overreaction. After 9/11 we gave them exactly what they wanted with a war against Afghanistan and Iraq that cost many more lives than 9/11, and nearly $4 trillion dollars and counting.
A prerequisite to success is unity. How can we in the United States, France and other vulnerable countries work in a more collaborative way, sharing intelligence, improving lines of communication? Together, the United States and other countries seeking solutions to the spreading of the ISIS cancer need to make the internet our new best friend. Disenfranchised youth around the world are being seduced on the internet to join with ISIS to destroy the west. For those without jobs and without hope, this appears to be a noble cause that will bring meaning into their lives. A young man who rejected this invitation has called for a concerted, positive message on the internet to change the narrative, calling for a commitment to peace, which is a fundamental message of Islam. This is a call to remember your identity.
A thoughtful, measured, peaceful response will be challenged by those initiating violence against Muslims in France and around the world. This will be further tested by those scapegoating refugees fleeing Syria and calling for an end to accepting additional refugees.
The greatest tribute to those who lost their lives in Paris, on a Russian plane, in Turkey and Beirut is to add peaceful voices in the noise of voices seeking revenge.