I sat in my nail shop as the news came in about the London bombings. Aside from my own immediate reaction of disgust, it was interesting to watch the reactions of the Vietnamese immigrants who run the place.
Those who have first-hand experience with any kind of violence, particularly mindless violence, understand this stuff. These Vietnamese ladies recalled sadly how their home country was torn apart by political violence. It was clear that they love the oasis of freedom that they have found in the United States and expressed their glee at the news that President Bush committed to visit Vietnam next year.
You just need to look around at the crazy quilt of humanity that makes up the United States to know how false the assertion is that is often heard that some people are culturally or genetically incapable of living in freedom. We hear this often today regarding those of Islam. But look around the United States and you will find millions of Arabs and other adherents of Islam that are thriving in our free country.
Freedom is not an issue of culture, religion, race, or genetics. Freedom is an issue of maturity.
Although a lot of effort is being made trying to understand how the mind of the terrorist works, I think there are elements that are elementary to understand for anyone who knows anything about parenting. Becoming a responsible, civilized, and free adult human being does not happen naturally but requires careful supervision and education.
Children come into this world as natural egotists. They see everything in terms of themselves. In the very early years, when a child is totally dependent, this makes sense.
However, the process of growing up, of maturing into adulthood, requires developing awareness of and empathy for others. It requires becoming aware that there is a line where I end and you begin and learning to respect that line. Some children have a harder time learning about that line of demarcation than others and a physical reminder becomes necessary in the learning process.
Today’s terrorists are children and they are wreaking havoc on the global stage. They come from dysfunctional families _ countries that are not free _ and therefore have not received the fundamental education about laws, empathy, and the complexities of the world that are necessary to live as an adult. Terrorists are children running around the world with adult financing and grown up weapons.
There are some that would have us believe that terrorism exists because of a lot of external circumstances. Some claim that it is caused by poverty. Some claim that it’s our fault. The United States. shouldn’t be doing business with governments in the Middle East that preside over regimes that are not free. Or that because the United States. has taken military action in the Middle East we will suffer at the hands of terrorists.
Some say we should be more sensitive because these children feel humiliated that their countries are backward and that they have been defeated in the marketplace and on the battlefield.
I just don’t buy it.
For one thing, the people of Islam don’t hate the West. They love it.
Since 1970, about 20 million Islamic immigrants left their homes and settled in Europe. As noted, there are millions of Moslems who have settled in the United States. They work, get educated, and earn money in the West, and many send much of their new wealth back to their families in their home countries.
If it wasn’t for the West, there would be no oil wealth. Our companies found and developed these resources. Our prosperous free economies consume this energy and transfer wealth to oil producing countries in the Middle East.
Several of the bombings that took place in London occurred in highly populated Muslim neighborhoods. The same day of these bombings, terrorist thugs in Baghdad executed the head of the Egyptian mission in Iraq.
These pre-adolescent nut cases will kill anyone, from the West or from the East, Christian, Jew, or Moslem, who does not conform with their childish hallucinations.
In the wake of these latest incidents, there will be calls again for the United States. to withdraw from Iraq and the Middle East. However, we can no more do this than anyone can ignore their neighbor’s delinquent children.
Freedom is not a luxury. It is a necessity for every living, breathing human being. However, it is impossible to be free without being an adult and this means understanding and living by those eternal rules that make it possible.
The clash today in our globalized world is not between nations, civilizations, or ethnicities. It is a clash between the mature and civilized of our planet and the adult children who refuse to grow up.
We cannot indulge them or those who assist them or rationalize their behavior in any way. Americans must understand, and hopefully those in Europe will understand more, that we have no choice but to be clear what the rules of humanity are, and to be vigilant and uncompromising in defending them.
(Star Parker is president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education, www.urbancure.org, and author of “Uncle Sam’s Plantation.”)