Us Versus Them
Apr 14 2016
When I got to work on Tuesday morning, the news was already all over the terrorist attack in Brussels,
Belgium. Social Media was on fire, the numerous talking heads of various networks were spinning their
opinions, but most of all, the world mourned. Not for the first time, a group of cowards attacked a soft civilian
target full of nothing but ordinary people like me, people who were just continuing on with their lives. ISIS
later came out claiming responsibility for their attacks, promptly calling on arm-chair quarterbacks from
around the United States to come out in force calling for some sort of increased action against them, as per
usual, just the typical day in America for the most part. Then, three days later, ISIS bombed a soccer game in
Iraq. This time, there was no vast outcry against the extremist group, no calls for blood. If anything, the most
I saw was “let them take each other out”, and other less pleasant things being said.
It’s far too common these days in our country: A Western nation gets attacked, and Conservatives start
flexing their muscles. But when Ankara, Turkey was bombed, they joke about it, not caring and sometimes
even applauding the fact that “the Muslims are taking themselves out”. There were eleven attacks committed
by ISIS in March alone, but the only one that garnered a significant reaction from American Media was the
Brussels attack, the only attack to take place in a non-Muslim-majority country. We’ve come to instill this
Us-Versus-Them mentality, but the problem is that it’s being used divisively. Instead of being “those against
terrorists/extremists” vs “terrorists/extremists”, it’s become “not Muslim” versus Muslim, or not even care
about it at all because it’s not in a first world European country. This is the kind of environment these
extremist groups thrive in, because their opposition can’t put down their differences to
fight against a common enemy, and would rather just fight against each other.
In the Marine Corps (and it goes for the other branches as well), we were taught that all of us, regardless of
Race, Creed, Religion, or any other unimportant factor, were a team, fighting for the same goals against a
common enemy, an enemy that also didn’t care about any of that. They wanted us all dead equally. But our
cohesion, our willingness to fight alongside others so different from ourselves, helped us achieve the mission
we were sent there to accomplish. In World War II, we fought alongside the Soviet Union to stop Nazi
Germany. America and the Soviet Union didn’t ever exactly get along, but still fought for a common goal
against a common enemy. The concept is nothing new, and if America can set aside its differences with an
entire country to fight for what’s right, then we as American Citizens, both left and right leaning, can do it.
But for some reason, we aren’t. Every week I read about Christians being killed in the Middle East by ISIS on
right-wing websites like Young Conservatives, but far less often do they post about Muslims or Yezidis or
any other religion that these extremists are targeting in their mission to gain complete control of the area,
but these groups keep reiterating that it’s the Christians in danger. They’re all in danger, because ISIS
doesn’t care who it kills on its way to achieve complete control of the area.
Further perpetuating the divisive state of opinion on ISIS, and what we should do about the situation in the
Middle East, are the current Republican and Democrat primaries for the upcoming Presidential Election. The
current prospects for the two major parties, and their respective schools of thought, refuse to compromise.
On the Right we’ve got individuals such as Cruz and Trump, both running for President, who’ve said they
would “carpet bomb ISIS” and “attack their families,” as well as blocking all Muslim immigrants.
Carpet bombing is a relic of wars where advanced guided ordinance had yet to be developed, and killing
non-combatants, regardless of their affiliation with the enemy, is strictly against the law of war. Also, you
can’t just tell 1.6 billion people they can’t come to the United States. You can’t tell a family in Indonesia that
they can’t come to America because of their religion. On the left, President Obama and Hillary Clinton want
to take in a vast amount of refugees, despite no efficient way to make sure they aren’t a terrorist threat.
We cannot afford to just take in tens of thousands of individuals whom we cannot properly make sure aren’t
a threat to American Citizens. This does not mean we shouldn’t fight ISIS, or that we shouldn’t help families
that have been devastated by the war in Syria, but there are ways we can do so without endangering
ourselves or becoming the monsters we seek to destroy.
America has used compromise since its beginning. The Constitution and Bill of Rights weren’t just something
that everyone agreed on right away; Hamilton and Jefferson argued relentlessly about what role the
Government should take and what powers it should have. Every patrol I went on in Afghanistan was a
compromise. We either walked through cotton fields that had 200% humidity in them, or walked in the canals
that Afghanis relieved themselves in, or we took the open route and risked being hit by IEDs, Gunfire, RPGs,
or any combination of the three. But we figured it out, and made the best decision we could at any given time.
Now, I see people who refuse to make any sort of compromise; its endless squabbling rooted in cognitive bias,
referencing anything that supports their argument but refusing to acknowledge events that don’t. Americans
are treating each other like the enemy, when there is a clear physical threat in the world to our security and
wellbeing. In order to come up with a strategically sound plan of action against ISIS that doesn’t result in
nothing more than another power vacuum in the area, we must put aside our relentless bickering and strive
for honest compromise.
©Brainbust Media Group, LLC 2016