July 19, 2019 | 93° F

PIQUERO: More action needed to combat terrorism

Opinions Column: The Principled Millennial


It’s hard to believe that it has been 15 years already — 15 years since the most devastating attack in our country’s recent history. Fifteen years of drawn-out conflict, misery and pain.

The day of 9/11 is something that will be forever ingrained in the mind of every American — young or old — who lived through it. The events that occurred on that fateful morning would rock a nation to its very foundation, and test the vitality and determination of its people. I think it is safe to say that we undoubtedly passed that test.

Although we as a people have made great strides since then, we have unfortunately reached a point of stagnation in which we have become complacent of the unfortunate realities of the modern day. Americans, and especially millennials who grew up during the 9/11 period, have come to find a certain degree of “normalcy” to terrorism that is profoundly unsettling. Millennials, such as I, have grown up in the age of vigilance — an age characterized by a toxic mixture of paranoia, fear, anxiety and exhaustion. Each news headline more gruesome than the next. Each attack more isolated and remote.

Since 2001, 360 Islamic militants have been indicted or convicted of terrorist activity within the boundaries of the United States. Too often Americans are being killed violently and indiscriminately. Perhaps the most discomforting and surprising statistic is that 80 percent of these supposed Islamic militants are either American citizens or legal permanent residents. FBI Director James Comey has recently stated, "Those people exist in every state. I have homegrown violent extremist investigations in every single state. Until a few weeks ago there was 49 states. Alaska had none, which I couldn't quite figure out. But Alaska has now joined the group so we have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states.”

We have become all too familiar with the names and places where these horrendous acts have taken place: San Bernardino, Orlando, Boston, Fort Hood and now recently in our own backyard, Seaside Heights, New Jersey, and the Chelsea neighborhood in New York City. The consistency, tenacity and brutishness of our foes are unparalleled in modern history. If it weren't for the tremendous resilience of the American people, I don't know how much longer a sovereign state could handle these domestic pressures.

The logical reaction to terrorism is strength and unity. Find out who exactly is threatening our country, where they are coming from, how they are getting here and most importantly, why are they being radicalized. Fortunately for us, as Americans we have the power and knowledge to answer a lot of these complex questions. We should be able to firmly and unapologetically address these key issues and quell the rising outbreak of violence. However, as clear-cut and rational as that sounds, our political leaders have demonstrated an almost complete disregard for reality and common sense.

Take New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for example. In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, de Blasio proclaimed that “militant violence is vanishingly rare.” Really? Maybe thats because the NYPD and FBI have foiled over 20 terrorist-related plots directed by Islamic militants against New York City since 9/11.

But what does the White House have to say about all this madness? Recently in a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said something that flew under the radar as far as the mainstream media was concerned, but was actually very revealing. In the briefing, Earnest was asked about the recent bombings by Ahmad Khan Rahami in New York and New Jersey. Earnest replied, “When it comes to ISIL, we are in a fight, a narrative fight, with them, a narrative battle. And what ISIL wants to do is they want to project that they are an organization that is representing Islam in a fight, in a war against the West, in a war against the United States.”

A “narrative fight?” A “narrative battle?” What exactly do these obscure phrases even mean?

The political elites have their head so far down the gutter that they have virtually forgotten how to even speak like normal Americans. Concerned citizens and many others do not wish for our leaders to tip-toe around issues of monumental concern and importance. With further calls by President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for an increase in the admittance of political refugees by as much as 550 percent, many more Americans are beginning to distrust and convey their frustration with establishment politics.

I believe it is a time for new governance, for a new direction. Even though 15 years have passed and little has surprisingly changed, I strongly believe that with the right leadership, the next 15 will be very different.

Michael Piquero is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science and history. His column, “The Principled Millennial,” runs on alternate Fridays.

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Michael Piquero

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