Our hearts are breaking once again for victims of violence: this time, the eighty-four dead and several more injured in the horrific attack on Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France. This despicable assault, as well as others in the Middle East, Africa, and in our own country, must lead us to redouble our efforts to put the world on a path of nonviolence even as we try to intercept those planning to commit such heinous crimes.
Both our nations, as well as many others around the world, are caught in a deadly spiral of polarized, random, often racialized violence that is terrorizing our nations from the inside. We are caught in the middle of escalating responses from terrorists and demagogues who wish to fan the flames of hatred, and governments who are quick to sacrifice liberty for security. But the truth is that no amount of walls, watch lists, checkpoints, or racial profiling will put an end to attacks like the one in Nice, or the recent spate of similar lone-wolf attacks that have brought the fear and terror of war and violence into our daily lives.
These attacks are symptoms of an underlying disease caused by war, poverty, crippling austerity, racism and xenophobia. We need to get at the root of the violence that is gripping our societies; we must not reproduce the spiral of violence and terror by scapegoating others, expanding the security state, or embracing militarism.
We must do the truly courageous thing and break the cycle of violence by answering our grief and horror with a renewed commitment to peace and justice. We must likewise resist the deplorable expressions of xenophobia and stand up for the civil rights and civil liberties of Muslims, as demagogues and elected officials alike jump to blame Islam for this terror.
We must acknowledge that the so-called “War on Terror” we launched after 9/11 has only continued to increase terrorism. We must find another path.
We must also look to rein in senseless violence where ever it occurs. In particular, we must end the weapons profiteering that fans the flames of violence domestically and overseas. The promotion of brutality and violence for profit needs to be stopped. Congress and the White House need to stand up to the enablers of terror at home and around the world.