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Deny the Terrorists Their Victory

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 24/03/2016 Jim Wallis

Terrorists want to "terrorize" us. They want to make us angry and hostile. They want us to react and overreact to them. They want us to suspect, to racially and religiously profile, discriminate against, and attack all Muslims. Because that will help the terrorists recruit more young Muslims to their cause -- and make it harder for other Muslims to work against them. They want to politicize everything and turn people's attention away from the massive losses for human life that these evil terrorists represent.
We must deny them their victory. Here's how.
1. We must focus on life and the terrible human suffering that this new Brussels attack has caused. When you add up all of those killed, forever maimed, wounded, traumatized -- and all their family members, friends, fellow congregants, and co-workers -- the number of human beings impacted is almost countless. Add to that the impact on all of our children whose fears these attacks kindle. While the terrorists focus on politics, we must pray, remember, and focus our minds and hearts on the human lives that have been ended or forever changed.
2. We must resist the hateful, ugly, and violent reactions to people who are not responsible for this. In particular, we must resist any and all attacks on Muslims or any language against the religion of Islam. Other Muslims are also victims of ISIS terrorists, and they must not become further victims of our responses to terrorism. Instead, Christians and other people of faith should reach out to our Muslim brothers and sisters and work together to undermine, disrupt, and end this evil violence -- especially when it is falsely done in the name of religion.
3. We must denounce American political leaders who also speak and act to politicize this terrorist violence, as the terrorists do, in service of their own political agendas and ambitions. In particular, we should denounce the words of Ted Cruz, who is calling for the "patrolling" of Muslim neighborhoods in the United States and putting Muslim American citizens under surveillance. We should denounce the words of Donald Trump, who stirs fear of more attacks and proposes to combat that by monitoring Muslim Americans, unconstitutionally banning Muslim immigrants from the United States, violating international law by torturing suspects and killing the children of terrorists, and now suggesting the use of nuclear weapons against ISIS. The politics of hate are wrong in the Middle East and in Brussels -- but they are also wrong in the United States, and people of faith should denounce the politics of hate everywhere.
We must deny the terrorists their victory by not becoming more like them in succumbing to hate and violence. Rather than letting the terrorists change who we are, we must become more like our truest selves, more like the Jesus we follow, more rooted in our faith, and more committed to our foundational national values.
It's time to turn toward God and not away into our own human fears and hatreds. May God help us and have mercy on us all.
Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book,America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, is available now.

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