Two incidents this past weekend reminded all Americans of how easy it is to commit acts of terrorism from within our country and how difficult it is to prevent them when they have domestic roots, even if the inspiration comes from abroad.
The authorities are acting swiftly and those responsible must be brought to justice. However, those acts should not lead to the harassment of the ethnic and religious communities to which the suspects belong.
One of the events was the explosion of a bomb in New York that left 29 people injured, as well as other bombs that did not detonate and that were found in New Jersey. The suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, is a naturalized Afghan citizen who is already in custody. The second act is a knife attack at a Minnesota mall perpetrated by Somali Dahir A. Adan, apparently linked to ISIS.
In both cases the weapons used – including the bombs – are considered rudimentary, which invites speculation that the origin of the attacks is internal and not an international complot, even though their inspiration might come from Islamist extremism. It is necessary not to mix up the actions of some individuals with their communities, and not to make them responsible in any way for what happened. An eye for an eye is the wrong solution against hatred, and even less against innocents.
It is important that the threat of our times, terrorism, is not manipulated for electoral purposes. It is wrong that Donald Trump is attacking immigrants again, trying to score points by frightening voters, and that his campaign is blaming the Obama administration for those events citing its weakness. It is not acceptable either that Hillary Clinton is accusing Trump of fanning the flames of terrorism with his comments.
Security – both internal and external – has an important role in this election, and must be on each candidate’s agenda. However, personal attacks seeking to blame one or the other contribute next to nothing to the debate.
The goal of these types of actions is to terrorize civilians, provoke fear, alter the course of normal life, and divide us. This must not happen. Terrorism is a reality but it should not raise internal resentments or make us change our open society. The average individual should pay more attention to their surroundings while remembering that those are isolated cases.