Both the US and Canadian governments call me a ‘citizen’ of their states, but these labels are pretty meaningless to me. Rather, I consider myself a member of the state-less human race. So, from one human to another, I thought it would be prudent for me to have a chat with you, the supporters of ISIS in the US and Canada, especially in the wake of recent events in Ottawa.
First, I’d like to say that I partially understand your anger concerning the foreign policies of the US government and the Canadian government. Both organizations frequently act like bullies, sticking their noses where they don’t belong, and you have every right to be angry, just as I am. I wish they would stop doing many of the things they are doing, and I really wish they would stop taking my money, without my permission, in order to do those things.’
Importantly, please know that this is in no way meant to be a free pass from me for many of the violent things that members of ISIS are doing to many innocent people in the Middle East, but I don’t think that militaries from the US and Canada dropping bombs on Syria, killing many innocent people, is an appropriate, moral, or effective response. So that being said, I do understand your anger, but I really don’t understand your actions.
I’ve heard ISIS’ stated goal: Many members of ISIS want the US and Canadian governments to stop meddling in their affairs overseas, and I sympathize entirely with this. But why do you think that violence is a good way to achieve this goal? I’ll take a few moments here to explain why violence will only hurt your cause, and then I’ll make some suggestions as to strategies that you should instead consider, strategies that are peaceful, and far more likely to affect some kind of change.
First, here are some of the problems with using violence, like Michael Zehaf-Bibeau used recently in Ottawa to take the life of Nathan Cirillo:
(1) If you use violence against bully governments like Canada’s and the United States’, they are going to respond with even more violence than before, in a very vengeful way. Before 9/11, you surely remember how much force the US military used in the Middle East, but after 9/11, they ramped it up tenfold. With the death of Nathan Cirillo, the Canadian government has already stepped up its rhetoric. They are going to now bomb your friends and families in response even more viciously. Then, other ISIS members and supporters will surely react violently to that, and the cycle will continue, and get worse and worse. It needs to stop somewhere, so perhaps you can be the adults here, because we all know that they won’t.
(2) If you use violence against the people inside of Canada and the US’ borders, then you’re punishing people who have no power to change anything. Let’s take me, for example. I want Canadian and US militaries to stop invading foreign lands, but I literally have no power to make this happen. I don’t participate in their violence; rather, they take my money, without my permission, in order to achieve their ends. If I refuse to pay them, they’ll come after me with guns and try to put me in a cage, so I’m scared. And many people in Canada and the US are similarly too scared to stop paying them. So what would killing me accomplish? Instead, I try to speak up against these injustices, in a peaceful way, never advocating for violence, and I hope that you will consider joining me in doing that instead.
(3) If you use violence, most people will just think you’re crazy, whether it’s true or not. In the Western world, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau isn’t being described by the media as an ‘activist’ or a ‘hero,’ and that’s because he used violence. Can you imagine if he would have instead focused his energy into speaking up, peacefully, against these injustices? His impact would likely not have been as big, but at least people wouldn’t be writing him off as a nut. Even though the people of Tibet still haven’t overcome the injustices of their violent Chinese oppressors, they have, for the most part, managed to resist and protest in an entirely peaceful manner, and this is why nobody thinks the Tibetans are villains. What if they instead responded with violence? Many of them would be dead by now, and there would really be no hope for change.
So I do understand that the Canadian government and the US government are bullies, huge bullies, but you can’t out-bully a huge bully. The only way to stop their bullying is to get people on your side in a peaceful way, as I’ve tried to do with my book, Ant Farm: A Novel About What’s Bugging Society. Otherwise, if you instead resort to violence, all you can expect is more violence used against you, and more public opinion rallied against you, especially if you use violence against people that can’t do anything to change the situation anyway.
I certainly hope that you’ll heed this advice, and instead speak up and band together peacefully, as I’m trying to do. If and when you’re ready, I – and many others – will be here to welcome you.