Another isolated incident or America’s blindness to its own terrorism?

Anar Gul, right, is interviewed as she sits next to the charred body of her grandson, allegedly killed by a U.S. soldier / AP

The cold-blooded killing of 16 Afghan civilians by an American soldier did not come as a surprise to those who have been following the US wars in the Muslim world during the last decade. The number of “isolated incidents” of atrocities done by this army to civilians is daunting. With every incident comes an investigation, an inquiry, a commission, a report, followed by a minor punishment of a low ranked combatant. It is about time to acknowledge that this is a trend, and deal with it accordingly.

If we are to assume that the US administration has the best of intentions to tackle this trend, we will still be amazed by its continuous failure to do so. This article is an attempt to help all Americans put their finger on the wound. It comes in one of those rare occasions when Americans are actually paying attention to what their troops are doing overseas.

Since the beginning of the war on terror, the United States of America was blinded by its fear and unable to see its actions. Confused by the horrifying events of 9/11, Americans didn’t pay attention to all the horror they caused to other countries and to other humans. For many Americans it was always a game of numbers. How many American soldiers killed? How much we are spending on our wars? How long we will be there? It was never about the innocent people killed or nations destroyed.

If we seek fairness, we will see that the American army committed more acts of terrorism against peaceful civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan than “Islamic” terrorists committed in the whole world. In Iraq alone, according to different estimates, it is believed that hundreds of thousands of civilians died as a result of the unnecessary invasion of that country.  And yet, when most Americans talk about the casualties of war, they only mention the 6,000 American soldiers that died there. Another manifestation of the above mentioned blindness.

From Bagram and Guantanamo, to Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, all the way to the very recent outburst of disgusting actions by American soldiers in Afghanistan ranging from burning the Quran, urinating on Afghani dead bodies, and slaughtering civilians with cold blood, these are all acts of terrorism.

Although I know that there is a big part of Americans who do not approve these actions, and who, in fact, were opposing these wars and these actions all along, we must acknowledge that there are many people in America, especially in the extreme right, who support these actions.

We, Muslims, have terrorists, but we have always said that they do not represent us. We have the right to say that because we denounce their actions, and take actions against them. From Indonesia to Morocco, Muslim extremists are being rejected, hunted and prosecuted. By doing so we are not only defending other humans with whom we share this planet, but we are also defending Islam that we truly believe to be a religion of peace and tolerance.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about America. Extremists in America are the ones who have the louder voice and therefore, the most influence; it gotten to the extent where moderate Americans are being terrorized and intimidated. The extremists in America are determined to use the collective forces of the American people to drive the country from one war to another to fulfill their thirst to terrorize the rest of the world.

This part of the American society is where blindness peaks. They do not see their mistakes because they believe that they are the good ones. This belief is, for some reason, independent from their actions. For them it’s not “what you do makes you good or bad”, they believe they are good, and those who refuse what they think in are bad, and therefore, everything they, the “good ones”, do to the “bad ones” is good, both because it is done by the good ones and because it is done to bad ones.

This extremism in America is beginning to erode America from within. Just like in the case of Islam, Americans need to leash their extremists for their own sake, if not for the sake of world peace and their fellow humans. The rhetoric of hatred and extremism in America must be confronted.

It should be clear that it is not accepted to engage in justifying terrorists actions done by US troops. In fact, fighting this rhetoric would be the best way for Americans to tackle the main cause for these repeated incidents. It should not be acceptable to justify such a terrorist act by “battlefield fatigue.” Whoever says that is actually justifying every terrorist attack in the world. If we are to accept this justification then how can we after that blame any terrorist acts committed by Muslim extremists whose homeland IS a battlefield, in which they lived for prolonged period of time?!

There are terrorist actions committed by the American army, and the fact that no one sees that is in fact the bigger problem. Rational Americans needs to stand up for those who are portraying America to the world as a terrorist state. Moderate Americans need to stand up for extremists in America in order to have the right to claim that “these actions do not represent America.”

If this war is really about defeating terrorism, America, then I suggest you start with yourself and stop your own terrorists and extremists. Be the example to the world that you always claim to be. You also have terrorists just like any other nations. Who you really are is not demonstrated by those terrorists or those extremists, but by how you deal with them. If you need to win the war on terror there is a battle within America that needs to be fought first, because seriously America, your own extremists are your own biggest problem. If you are too afraid to stand up for them then they will keep you afraid and terrorized forever.

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