You know the old saying, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil?” That might have its place when verbalized by a fire-and-brimstone preacher at the pulpit, but not when it comes to the threat of violent radical extremism.
I was just in a U.S. town in Texas where the mayor was warned by members of the local Muslim community and by the wider public about one particular family that posed a clear threat. The mayor chose to ignore the warnings and that family subsequently tried to reach Syria to fight for ISIS. They were stopped just in time by federal officers.
The idea that violent extremism, particularly in its Islamist form, is something that cannot happen in our backyard cannot be ignored and smacks of acting like an ostrich simply burying its head in the sand.
With the demise of Islamic State in Syria and hopefully someday soon in Iraq, it is likely that the chances of an attack somewhere in the West are arguably greater than ever. ISIS leadership (including the head of the snake, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who remains at large) and its members are likely more motivated than ever to carry out attacks just to say “We are still alive.”
We know there are ongoing investigations in all 50 states into Islamist extremists and that’s to say nothing of the threats from white supremacists, potential school shooters and others.
So rather than pretending the problems don’t exist locally, our elected officials have a duty and a responsibility to ensure all steps are taken to protect us.
As we’ve seen over the last few years, targets can be anything — the market down the road, a school, bus station or sidewalk.
Saying, “We don’t have a problem with radicalization in our town,” is simply naive and puts the entire community at risk. Hear no evil is not defeatism, it’s plain stupid.
So please, reach out to your elected officials, tell them about Clarion’s no-cost Preventing Violent Extremism training program. It’s created for elected officials, law enforcement, social workers, psychologists, teachers and parents. We’re here to help ensure your town remains free from radicalization, particular among the youth.