It’s vital to find the root cause of terrorism
The attack in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday that killed eight people and injured 11 was a ruthless attack against innocent civilians and deserves the strongest condemnation.
The suspect, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, drove a rented pickup truck and mowed people down on a bike path along the Hudson River.
Saipov, who came legally to the US from Uzbekistan in 2010, was found to believe in ISIS ideology. When questioned by investigators, he has shown no remorse for the attack and was almost boastful about it.
Americans have shown their courage of not giving in or being deterred in the face of the attack. The Halloween parade in Manhattan on Tuesday night went on as scheduled, with a large crowd. The New York City Marathon on Sunday will still be held.
However, some talking heads on US cable news stations have kept saying how the US should increase the vetting process of immigrants and even shut the door on certain countries. Some have revived Muslim-phobia since Saipov shouted “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great” after fleeing his truck and before being shot by police.
It might be too early to talk about the root cause of such terror attacks since many Americans are still in trauma. But without finding the real cause, it is impossible to come up with correct and effective policies.
Far too often, US politicians have an easy answer by saying “they hate our way of life, our freedom, democracy and success.” This has not helped solve the problem as terrorism has become an ever more threat to the US and many other countries.
What is surprising is that no one seems to think that US domestic and foreign policies may contribute to the rise of such terrorist action.
For example, the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan has resulted in the loss of countless civilian lives and turned the two countries into chaos. The rampant US drone strikes from Pakistan and Libya to Yemen and Somalia have caused many civilian casualties and have long been cited as a recruitment tool for extremist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
The torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the illegal detention at Guantanamo are examples of how the US disregards international laws despite its constant preaching to other countries.
For years, the Pew Center surveys have found a low public favorability for the US in the Middle East and North Africa, a reflection of antiAmericanism in regions where the US had flexed its muscle.
The US favorability is only 15 percent in Jordan, 18 percent in Turkey and 27 percent in Tunisia, according to a Pew survey released in August.
Some US domestic policies may also have alienated the Muslim community. Certain actions and rhetoric, whether from the government or just talking heads on TV, have reinforced the idea that the US is at war with the Muslim world.
Sarah Lyons-Padilla of Stanford University and Michele Gelfand of University of Maryland conducted some research two years ago and found integration of Muslim immigrants, rather than isolating them, is critical to fighting home-grown radicalization. They said anti-immigrant discourse is likely to fuel support for extremism rather than squelch it.
China and the US have deepened their counterterrorism cooperation in the past years, but the US still holds double standards in defining terrorism in other countries even their targets are innocent civilians.
The Tuesday attack in Manhattan is a tragedy. But fighting terrorism requires domestic and foreign policies formulated on sound analysis, not rhetoric that only sounds politically correct.