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Extremism Here To Stay

by John on 10/23/2014

The Canadian terrorist attacks of the past few days brings home some tough reality.

This extremism isn’t going away.

It is existential. It is now living in a larger portion of the world’s population. Granted, this extremism with this type of violence is probably in less than 1% of the people on this earth. But you can throw out the numbers since it only takes 1 person to create and execute terror.

These attacks in Canada – in Ottawa and Montreal – were so-called “home grown” or “lone wolf” attacks. As of now, we don’t think there was a covert terrorist operation launched by ISIS directly.

However, these attacks appear to be launched indirectly.

Whether it is ISIS or some other group, they are using the tools of everyday life to create these attacks. Social media reaches this small amount of disenfranchised people who are either psychologically imbalanced enough to feel they are threatened or they are economically disadvantaged enough to feel they are striking a blow for justice.

Three teenage girls from Denver skipped school to join ISIS. A Bedouin Israeli doctor leaves a promising medical career to fight for ISIS. It seems like Ebola, just another virus that will kill until it runs its course.

In the short term, we have no choice but to fight extremism with extremism. That means we will start to see more invasions on our privacy and more type-casting and prejudice against certain individuals and groups – not to mention the military and financial commitment abroad.

In the long term, though, we need to look at our role – as individuals and as a nation – in this extremism.

I am not looking to place blame; I am only looking for causes to find solutions. And I am not saying other nations are innocent; not at all. The leaders of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, China, and Russia have done their share of keeping the masses down and keeping themselves in power.

I am looking at us.

The first solution is to realize that we are an extremist nation. In fact, we have been an extremist nation over the past 15 to 20 years.

Look no further than Congress. There is extremism in both parties leading to stalemate. A recent Pew Poll shows we, as a people, are the most polarized we have ever been. Even worse, it seems that our kids are being harassed by so-called friends, classmates, or online buddies. Isn’t this too a form of domestic terrorism?

Yes we can blame the internet and social media that allow this stealth-like attack invading our privacy. But really this uncompromising disregard started decades ago.

Let’s go back to one of the causes of the Islamic Fascist movement: Oil.

Our dependence on foreign oil brought billions of dollars to wealthy Middle Easterners who then in turn used that wealth to lord over millions while giving them only lives of suppression and dependence. The fact the American in-take of that oil is far greater than any other nation makes us somewhat culpable.

But here’s where our extremism comes in. We didn’t want to scar our homeland from the environmental destruction so we off-shored it to despots from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iran who, in turn, gave us, cheaper energy. It was easier. Why? The oil industry and the environmental lobby were never been able to compromise. In fact, the Bush White House excluded any environmentalists from discussions about revamping the nation’s energy policy back in the early 2000s. Many US environmentalists – and most Americans – were happy to have our pristine open spaces since we didn’t see what oil drilling was doing to the lands and waters of Africa and the Middle East.

Can’t that be called American extremism?

Ironically, fracking and the natural gas boom here in the US is also another cause. Our extraction revolution, which is a technological marvel, is also depressing the price of oil and other energy sources. That is reducing the amount of petro-dollars that Middle Eastern dictators (Russia too ironically) receive, diminishing payments to the masses which is leading to unrest.

Here’s another energy irony. ISIS is apparently helping us reduce our price at the gas pump. They have conquered so many oil fields and sell it on the black market, increasing supply, which is also helping to depress prices. (If you have an economic background and wish to explain or refute my theory, have at it.)

So, should we lambast the energy industry? No, we need to learn from this. We need to keep them from dictating our laws and foreign policy. Of course, that would mean ending all campaign donations to politicians from industries that have an economic impact on what could be a disastrous foreign policy for us. But more importantly, we need other opposing voices to be heard – and to be given something in the form of legal and legislative wins.

Hasn’t this winner take all attitude infected us as a nation for the last 20 years?

Yes. Why do we always have calls to impeach the President? What used to be a crazy idea is now served up all the time. I am tired of the Tea Party whackos who would find something sinister if Obama cured cancer.

But both parties have their extremist players and policies doing more to block the opposition rather than working with them. Harry Reid emails me almost every day to tell me how the Koch Brothers are causing America’s demise, yet pro-Democratic PACs are spending more money.

Let me make this clear. I am not saying the jihadist movement – ISIS, al Qaeda — is similar to the Tea Party or Harry Reid. Let me repeat that. I am not saying the jihadist movement is similar to other movements we have heard about or experienced. I am saying there is a strain of winner-take-all/no compromise that has infected us all. Ironically, that I had to say that shows the extremism we now endure.

I contend the fuel for the US extremism has been the unfettered waves of campaign money. The Supreme Court decision of Citizens United sounded like something an Iranian Ayatollah would have issued. Campaign donations are free speech.

This has done two things that we are seeing:

  1. politicians beholden to special interest money, not the people
  2. media interests pushing extremist agendas that build their profits

The results for us as a nation are annoying.

  • Non-presidential year elections have lower turnout
  • The majority of Americans – especially the millennials — do not identify with either political party

The lack of economic policy that has not happened is just as annoying.

  • No infrastructure repair and upgrades for transportation and e-commerce
  • No re-training for workers to compete in the 21st Century economy
  • Nothing to diminish the long-term debt that is about to hit as Boomers retire as current taxpayers foot 66% of the Medicare bill

Those three things are scary too.

So, what we saw in Canada had infected us here long ago. Let’s find the solution to stop this in the long term.

Have at it, folks.

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