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We, the wider public, are constantly bombarded by extremist language – particularly by our own western domestic sources, which promotes fear, discrimination and violence simply by adhering to mental constructs that do not have room for tolerance and incite hatred too.

It is hard sometimes to see how our own media and political propaganda is trying to radicalise us, and even harder to confront it when discourses turn extremist in nature: either agree with us (whatever the dominant domestic political position is at the time) or you are in the wrong and are our enemy!. Western governments [1] tend to respond more extremely and violently compared to those they label as “extremely violent terrorists”,  actively contributing to wars and armed conflict all around the world – defying its original purpose of “eliminating the evil”, which is of course never oneself but the “other”.

The worst contribution western governments have made in terms of language is to use generalisations and stereotypes in targeting broadly the groups whose cultures and religions do not resemble theirs. Such is the case with the war on terrorism – “terrorist” being a broad term that is now widely used to target Muslims and has also been conveniently used on indigenous groups that commit a violent act in claiming their rights for example. [2]

Behavioural science teaches us not to blame humans for what seems to be a natural tendency to distrust what is different to oneself, whether the difference is materialised in looks, spiritual choices or ideologies. People feel more comfortable with those that are alike, yet none of it justifies an unwillingness to learn how to respect others and to rise up the to the challenge that is being exposed to multiculturalism and multi-racism in the 21st century.

What most of us fail to see is that these conflicts affect us at home the most. Increasingly our rights shrink against an ever politicised and discriminatory environment that employs violent approaches, which gives more room for authorities to abuse power at home. Yet none of this is contested by the wider public, which is in itself a result of our own authorities using terror and fear on us, threatening good reason and inhibiting public discussion for justice – turning our homes into less enjoyable and desirable places to live all together.

So while it is exhausting to have to guard oneself against the constant violent, extremist and discriminatory discourses originating at home, as well as those from abroad, we should continue to critically assess information and protest against anyone that claims there is only one truth, the one they personify, particularly when one sees the same faults on both sides: neither our governments nor those groups that we call terrorists personify the ideals that anyone should aspire to and both parties end up contributing to creating environments that provoke violence, radicalisation and extremist views on all sides.

After all, what hope can we have to change “others” if we cannot even persuade our fellow citizens and politicians to do/be better?

[1] Aware that this is a massive generalisation, apologies. USA and other powerful European countries kept crossing my mind of course but I am sure many in other countries around the world can also see the public discourse at home adopting similar language and tactics.
[2] Helen Duffy (2015) The ‘War on Terror’ and the Framework of International Law. Cambridge

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