Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Terrorism, police brutality linked through violent extremism

Nearly every day this year, reports of extreme violence flood the public consciousness. In just the last few months, there have been terrorist attacks in dozens of places globally by both “Christian” and “Islamic” extremists. Police appear to execute citizens on the streets with impunity, such as was the case with Laquan McDonald and Ronald Johnson, both of Chicago, and Mario Woods of San Francisco.
Time and time again, we as a nation and as a world take in all this violence and ask, how can we stop this?
My answer is to prioritize stopping violent extremism of all kinds from destroying us from the inside. It’s the underlying theme behind every act of terror and brutality plaguing our nation today. As the saying goes, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
President Obama has addressed the issue of mass shootings over and over again. Every time one of these tragedies strikes, he goes on the air to express his continued heartbreak and frustration at the inaction of our Congress in addressing this issue.
Just one day after the tragedy in San Bernardino, 53 Republicans and 1 Democrat in the Senate voted down a bill that would have prevented people our government already suspects of terrorist activity from buying guns, according to MSNBC.
Many of these same Senators received significant donations from the NRA, according to Think Progress’s Igor Volsky. They are the same politicians who spout violent anti-abortion rhetoric, of the sort that led to the Colorado Springs shooting that claimed three lives on Nov. 27.
Congress is not the only branch of government that fails to slow the spread of violent extremism. The Supreme Court has an unfortunate history of giving the police increasing legal leeway to be brutal in their dealing with civilians, according to a report by Slate’s Mark Stern.
“By sanctioning a ‘shoot first, think later’ approach to policing, the Court renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment hollow,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissenting opinion on Mullenix v. Luna, a police brutality case in which Officer Mullenix shot Israel Leija’s car six times, killing him before his car could be stopped by a strip of spikes placed on the road by police.
Such “shoot first, think later” tactics and violations of Constitutional rights by the police and their fatal consequences are familiar to many, but the Black community certainly has a disproportionate experience of police brutality, as is illuminated by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Over one thousand people have been killed by police in 2015 alone. Yet knowing that international police can and do subdue armed suspects without resorting to killing them, it calls into question the motives and culture that surrounds police violence in the United States.
This culture also manifests itself when we as a nation are still being forced to combat the hateful, xenophobic, bigoted rhetoric employed by people like Donald Trump. Racism is not over, contrary to popular belief.
As Shaun King of the New York Daily News recently wrote, Donald Trump is appealing to his supporters on a platform of white supremacy. Not only is Trump supplying racist, Islamophobic fodder, his constituency is eating it up and clamoring for more.
Even Paul Ryan, the conservative Republican Speaker of the House, has condemned Trump’s most recent anti-Muslim rhetoric as being un-Republican and most importantly, as un-American.
Despite the alarming clarity of the glaring problems with Trump, there is still resistance to challenging such a disturbing culture that allows for and even supports that kind of hatred.
Yet people still condemn the community and student activists who are standing up for their rights on campuses and Main Streets all over the country. There have even been students on our own campus that have called into question the need for social justice.
My fellow senior Michael Hoover described protests and protesters a “weed” that “keeps growing back” in an Observer article published Dec. 3rd.
As a student who participated in last year’s student protest here on campus, I admit to getting upset upon reading this. Yet I find myself still trying to see what the logic was behind such an undermining statement.
This statement is similar to many I’ve heard before, touted by the sort of folks that seem to have an interest in preserving the freedoms and rights that once made this country a beacon to the rest of the world. However, they do so by complaining when people exercise those rights to shed light on all their other rights that are being violated.
In the same article, Hoover claimed that curbing discriminatory behavior on campus would infringe on free speech. He seems to forget that the rights of one person, such as the right to free speech, are already constitutionally ordained to end where they infringe on the rights of another. No one has the right to be hateful without consequence, especially if the consequences and limitations are not coming from the government, but from an institution like the college.
Anyone who believes in protecting our rights but draws issue with our method should stop sabotaging such efforts and start trying to help. Get on board with our First Amendment rights. The demonstrations that Hoover decried were all examples of the exercise of freedom of speech, freedom to petition and freedom of assembly.
Start with what can be agreed upon, and help meet in the middle, instead of dehumanizing our movement as a “weed” that discomforts and inconveniences the campus. Demanding that protests and protesters cater solely to the feelings and convenience of the status quo by forsaking the needs of the violently oppressed is not the way to fight for civil rights.
For Trump and his supporters, I can only hope that they will end up on the wrong side of history, as political leaders and movements based on oppression have failed before. I can only hope that we will see the domestic terrorism and violence that plagues our country and choose to be better than that, before it becomes too late.
I hope we can choose as a nation, more swiftly and with less violence than in the past, to resist this ugly new manifestation of white supremacy and its consequent offshoots of bigotry and violence. Our lives depend on it.

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Terrorism, police brutality linked through violent extremism