A dif­fer­ent look of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION -

WHAT if we look at a vi­o­lent ex­trem­ist as a per­son, a hu­man be­ing, and a “vic­tim”? And not as an en­emy. This out­look will give us a dif­fer­ent way of ad­dress­ing the is­sues and prob­lems on vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.

Take the case of the Re­bel­lion in the movie Rogue One of Starwars fran­chise where Cas­sian An­dor also known by the aliases Wil­lix, Aach, Joreth Sward, and the ti­tle Ful­crum, was a hu­man male soldier, pi­lot and In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer who served in the Con­fed­er­acy of In­de­pen­dent Sys­tems dur­ing the Clone Wars and then the Al­liance to Re­store the Repub­lic dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Frac­ture and the Galac­tic Civil War. An­dor joined the Re­bel­lion at the age of six, and he vol­un­teered to join a rebel mis­sion to steal the plans of the Death Star, a su­per­weapon built by the Galac­tic Em­pire. (Yes. I am a Star Wars fan.)

In one of the con­ver­sa­tions he had in the movie re­gard­ing the rebel “mis­sion im­pos­si­ble” plan, he said, “But I do. I be­lieve you. We’d like to vol­un­teer. Some of us - well, most of us - we’ve all done ter­ri­ble things on be­half of the Re­bel­lion. Spies, sabo­teurs, as­sas­sins. Ev­ery­thing I did, I did for the Re­bel­lion. And ev­ery time I walked away from some­thing I wanted to for­get, I told my­self it was for a cause that I be­lieved in. A cause that was worth it. With­out that, we’re lost. Ev­ery­thing we’ve done would have been for noth­ing. I couldn’t face my­self if I gave up now. None of us could.”

He did hor­ri­ble things for the Re­bel­lion. He used vi­o­lence to ad­vance the ob­jec­tive of the Re­bel­lion. He be­lieved he was do­ing the right thing.

One blog­ger by name of Nick Edinger wrote, “In­stead of straight­for­ward heroes, Rogue One de­picts a Rebel Al­liance that’s frac­tured, morally com­pro­mised, and hon­estly not too dif­fer­ent from the Em­pire in some re­spects”. He is cor­rect in say­ing that the movie was un­sual. The heroes in this movie were por­trayed not as a typ­i­cal hero who is right­eous and have done good things in life.

He added, “Some of the sub­tler nods to the orig­i­nals are scenes with a sim­i­lar set-up to an orig­i­nal tril­ogy coun­ter­part, shot with dif­fer­ent pac­ing and new emo­tional beats. The best of these is a scene where the Rebels use an oc­to­pus-alien on a pris­oner to “dis­cuss” the lo­ca­tion of their hid­den Im­pe­rial weapon. The shades of grey are wel­come, in par­tic­u­lar be­cause it ends up show­cas­ing a strik­ing new look to this uni­verse. The movie sums up the un­der­belly of this re­bel­lion with a scene wherein the rebels cap­ture the heroes and put bags over their heads… in­clud­ing on the head of the blind guy”. Funny as it may seen, but that is how the heroes in this movie were de­picted.

I chose to study and dis­cuss this movie for my ar­ti­cle today be­cause it had a mes­sage. The movie Rogue 1 may ex­plain one an­gle of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism and why peo­ple are in­clined to sup­port or even ac­tively op­er­ate in ad­vanc­ing their po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy through vi­o­lent means. Peo­ple be­lieve that they are fight­ing for a le­git­i­mate cause. They are ad­dress­ing griev­ances, and they are in search of jus­tice.

I am not in any way jus­ti­fy­ing or glo­ri­fy­ing any vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists groups, like Daesh, ISIS, Al Qaida, and our lo­cal ver­sions of them. I con­demn these groups and their ide­olo­gies. They are the true ene­mies of Is­lam.

How­ever, in our com­plex uni­verse, we need to rec­og­nize and un­der­stand why these things hap­pen and why vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists tend to do their ob­jec­tives, fol­low their lead­ers, and sus­tain their vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism ide­ol­ogy. Be­cause in un­der­stand­ing them, we tran­scend from the bi­nary uni­verse of “us’ and “them” or the mil­i­tary vs. the vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists. We need to ex­pand our area of in­flu­ence by hav­ing more of the con­cept of “we” need to work to­gether. Be­cause one ex­pert on ex­trem­ism said, “Con­duct­ing mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against ex­trem­ist groups with­out a broader po­lit­i­cal plan only deep­ens the chaos that al­lows ex­trem­ism to spread”.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, a Brook­ings dis­tin­guished fel­low, em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of ex­pand­ing lo­cal part­ner­ships as a way to “dis­ag­gre­gate rather than con­flate” ex­trem­ist move­ments. This re­quires that govern­ments “keep lines of com-

mu­ni­ca­tion open to any­one who wants to talk to [them].” Fol­low­ing this line of thought, we need to talk to all groups, not only within our own net­work and ar­eas of in­flu­ence.

The most ef­fec­tive way in P/CVE is to value hu­man rights and hu­man dig­nity. We also need to value our own lo­cal com­mu­nity, our neigh­bors, fam­i­lies, and friends. In our lo­cal con­text, al­most every­one is con­nected by blood/kin­ship, so­cial and cul­tural re­la­tions. We can­not dis­re­gard these con­nec­tions. There­fore, at some point, if it is still pos­si­ble, we need to di­a­logue with the vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists (al­though we can­not take for granted the pos­si­bil­ity. Be­cause as I men­tioned ear­lier, some of the vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists are ac­tu­ally vic­tims of so­cial in­jus­tice. They may have a le­git­i­mate griev­ances that needs to be ad­dressed. They may also be our neigh­bor, our rel­a­tives, or even some are our friends. Thus, the need to have a crit­i­cal mind to an­a­lyze the prob­lem.

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