After all, what does Islam stand to gain from such senseless butchery?
What does an “Islamic extremist” achieve by driving into a crowd of strangers and – usually – being killed in the process? Or randomly stabbing strangers in a crowd?
Such acts inspire only loathing. Surely, they do more to discredit the Islamic religion than to promote it.
Obviously, the “terrorist” attackers harbor deep resentment against their fellow citizens. They might be called “alienated.” But they’re more than that. They’re full of bitterness and hate.
You don’t get that way by worshipping God – even if you call your God Allah.
You get that way by being shunned, ridiculed and belittled. You get that way by being called names like “towel head” and “spick,” by being made to feel less than human, by being taught to hate yourself for being yourself.
You get that way by being consumed by rage, frustration and helplessness.
Don’t get mad at me. I am not defending the loathsome attackers. I am only trying to figure out how they got so loathsome.
And I am trying to insert a word of caution in the crescendo of anger evoked by the attacks.
I know it’s hard – at this moment unbearably hard – to suppress the instinctive urge for reprisal. But reason says otherwise.
Obviously, armed assaults by groups like ISIS have to be countered by military force. But that alone will not cure the affliction.
Bombs and bullets do not win hearts and minds.
By striking back blindly at the attackers and the cause they say they represent, we fall into their trap.
Perhaps we should not only take the necessary steps to protect ourselves against further attacks. Perhaps we should also look into our treatment of minorities in our society.
That might turn out to be the most effective way of combating terrorism.