Thousands were killed this year by terrorists in Nigeria and Mali, and hundreds in Kenya and Somalia. But Nigerians and Malians and Kenyans and Somalis know that things are actually getting better. They are winning the battle against terrorism.
Just as Britain overcame the IRA and Spain overcame the Basque Separatists and Japan overcame the Red Army and Germany overcame Nazism: the solution takes time. It does not include creating impenetrable defenses. Africans successful fight against terrorism includes taking on head-to-head the two most significant causes of terrorism:
Hunger, physical and psychological.
Exclusion, ethnic and economic.
Most Americans when asked who Timothy James McVeigh is don’t even pretend to know. Yet many Americans when asked who presents the greatest threat of terrorism insist with divine certainty that it is Muslims and refugees.
On April 19, 1995, a 27-year old Gulf War veteran, Starpoint (NY) Central High School’s Most Promising Computer Programmer, devout Roman Catholic, registered member of the Republican Party and National Rifle Association, killed 168 Americans and injured another 600 by blowing up a federal building in Oklahoma City. Why?
Because, in his own words, he wanted to inspire a revolution against America’s tyrannical government.
“I’m sorry these people had to lose their lives. But that’s the nature of the beast….Innocents [have to die] to win the war.”
Hundreds followed McVeigh in America as terrorists since 1995. Almost all of them were fully fledged, driver-license endowed, passport eligible home-grown boys – Americans through and through.
McVeigh was Irish American. Hear any calls from Trump to ban Irishmen from entering the U.S.?
Terrorism – which we once incorporated into the phrase, “guerilla warfare” – is nothing new, but seems so, and that may be because it’s finally becoming successful.
Terrorists can’t amass enough fire power to prevail. So their strategy is simple: get inside the shirt of their adversary, inject the heart with fear and make the adversary turn on himself.
Fear uncovers our soul. We run or we fight. We save others at the risk of ourselves or we hide. We can’t masquerade our inner identity when we get afraid – it all shows.
Donald Trump and his frighteningly large number of followers are cowards of the simplest sort. They won’t fight the real battles, so they make up battles that don’t exist, like the religious “clash of civilizations.”
They want to believe they can still gun down their opponents, so they amass huge stockpiles of arms, but in their heart of hearts they’ve been frightened into believing in the near invincibility of terrorists.
So they want to build walls to barricade themselves from the rest of the world, an ultimate defense against the foreign phantom. What irony that future Timothy McVeighs, Americans through-and-through, Christians of the most flowery sort, Republicans and NRA contributors will all be behind the wall together. Easier to blow things up from the inside, isn’t it?
If the wall’s big and strong enough, the blast won’t hurt anybody at all on the outside.
Africans are fighting for ways to fairly redistribute diminishing resources, to find better ways of feeding everybody who’s hungry, to end corruption to make life inclusive for everyone. I don’t doubt that long before America achieves economic inclusiveness, most African nations will.
I’ve written about all these last year. These are tireless, thankless but meaningful battles. How pitiful are the extremists on the right who refuse to take these battles on.
Listen to Africa. Listen to Europe. Listen to Trump and his followers, too, but beware of them: This isn’t just entertainment. They’re standing in front of a white flag.
(For my summary of the top 10 stories in Africa in 2015, click here.)