I had hoped, probably somewhat naively, that with President Biden’s win in a free and fair election, we in the U.S. could get back to a more normal, less dramatic way of speaking, transacting, cooperating, and interacting with each other, that hate speech would go by the wayside, and that people would look upon each other fondly again as we all ditched our malicious and spiteful rhetoric for a bright new way, or at least a return to the old, less vitriolic way, a fresh start, as it were.
As I said — naive.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up hope for that sparkly future for America. This is, after all, one of the greatest experiments in self-rule ever conducted and sometimes people lose faith in the political creed or fall into despair when the pendulum swings too far right or left and no longer makes sense to them.
Yet one thing we should all be able to agree on is that we will make no forward motion unless we all tone down the hate speech. To that end, I offer you this brief by Madiha Afzal, a David M. Rubenstein Fellow — Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy, Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology at Brookings. The Brookings Institution is a non-profit think tank dedicated to independent research which addresses some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Twenty years after terrorists carried out the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. seems to be winning the war on terror abroad, but our own soil is a wholly different headache. Like Ireland in the last third of the 20th century, America suddenly has homegrown terrorists of its own, something that many of us never saw coming, and it’s terrifying, especially when members of Congress are spewing their own hate speech.
Afzal argues that we need to restructure how we think about extremism and employ a top-down approach to combating it through education and the transferring of critical-thinking skills to combat the cultism that accompanies terrorism. If the events of the last few months, culminating in the January 6, 2021 raid on the U.S. capitol, a raid spurred on by fake news and alternative facts — such as the totally erroneous claim that President Biden stole the election — have demonstrated anything, it’s that we have much more work to do at home.
Reading Afzal’s brief is a start in that direction. She proposes a global U.N. agreement, led by the U.S., in which countries design and roll out educational systems geared to fight extremism. According to Afzal, “[t]he positive externalities of focusing on education would extend beyond their effect on extremism: This would also counter disinformation campaigns and the phenomenon of fake news, and the effect on attitudes could in turn have far-reaching effects on various forms of violence.”
For the sake of all, not just the U.S., but the world, we can’t push this any farther under the rug than we already have, otherwise, we’ll have to climb over the mountain of our own failures just to cross the living room. Time to get smarter.
It’s the last Friday of the month. Time to share your good news on the We Are the World Blogfest — #WATWB — a monthly good news trip around the world. May we all be energized and rejuvenated by such news. If you’re interested in joining our Blog Hop, the guidelines are as follows:
1. Keep your post to below 500 words;
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This month’s cohosts are:
Simon Falk https://simonfalk28.wordpress.com/
Shilpa Garg http://shilpaagarg.com/
Mary Giese https://maryjmelange.wordpress.com/
Belinda Witzenhausen https://bwitzenhausen.wordpress.com/
As always, thanks for reading.
pam lazos 1.29.21