You have probably heard about ISIL. As long as you haven’t been living on a boat in the middle of the Pacific, it is more than likely that you have heard one person, or more likely most of the people you know, talk about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Their recent attack on Paris struck very close to home despite being an ocean away. Most Americans remember the last time a religious extremist massacred many people in the name of their god. For America, the last time this happened was in a mostly African American church in South Carolina.
This is the uncomfortable reality. The June 19, 2015 massacre of nine people in a church has more similarities to the Paris attacks than differences. Both were carried out by religious extremists who were rebuked by the vast majority of people with the same religion. Both believed that their actions were honoring their religious beliefs. Despite what you may hear on the news or in your Facebook feed, ISIL is nowhere near the greatest threat to our country.
In my favorite book of all time, “1984” by George Orwell, there are three separate countries that are in a permanent war with each other. Oceania and Eastasia had always been at war with Eurasia. However, half way through the novel, loyalties switch. Instead of saying that Eastasia is the new enemy, the government literally alters its history to say it has always been at war with Eastasia. The common enemy and the nature of their eternal hatred united the country despite the fact they were under totalitarian rule.
Obviously America isn’t under totalitarian rule. However there are some disturbing similarities to the scene from Orwell’s dystopian novel. Many people will say “ISIL is our enemy. It is the whole country’s enemy. Nobody else is as big of a threat to safety as ISIL is.” In reality, that is simply false. According to a September 2015 article by the “Indystar” over 100 people have been killed in Indianapolis alone in 2015.
Despite the attacks on Paris being extremely tragic and worthy of global solidarity to combat terrorism, ISIL is not the largest problem facing the world.
It is very sad to see a population that will believe that ISIL has invaded America, but will still refuse to believe that climate change is real phenomenon.
We have all been set up to fail by believing a few awful extremists are a greater threat to society than issues such as climate change, big money in politics, or our national debt. We should look at the world with a critical eye. Yes, we need to continue to monitor ISIL and make sure that their acts of terrorism do not spread, but we should also not succumb to their barbaric scare tactics that have succeeded in making Americans scared of their own shadow.