Rising extremism is not a mental health issue, it’s a political and public health issue
Guest comnmentary by AHRC Executive Director Imad Hamad discusses why extremism is not a mental health issue, but a political and a public health concern.
By Imad Hamad
The response to terrorism in this country is bifurcated. If the perpetrator is a Muslim, then the issue becomes Islam and Muslims. Some go to the Quran to find answers. Others blame the whole Muslim community for the violent act. If the perpetrator is a Christian White person, then the issue becomes either a gun regulation issue or a mental health issue. Not helpful.
Gun violence is a public health issue. It is important not to demonize any group of people. A whole group whether it is Muslims, the mentally ill, or gun owners are not responsible for the acts of individuals. The questions should be: What is a sensible response to gun violence as to the availability of guns by type and background check? How do we deal with the root cause of hateful extremism that manifests itself in violent acts?
The culture of extremism, radicalization, hate, racism and terrorism recognizes no race, color, religion and most of all no boundaries. No nation and no society can be immune of such a culture nor can be immune of being a target. When we demonize a whole group, by design or by default, we lay the groundwork for violent attacks.
This rising challenge exceeds the typical and traditional remedies and requires re-examination of our government approach to this national crisis.
No doubt that the latest horrific domestic attacks that our nation witnessed in Texas and Ohio are painful reminder that this challenge is real and can’t be sugar-coated. Time is due to define this threat as is. Time is due to re-examine its deep roots from all aspects. This challenge require more than the words of condemning, expressing sorrow and prayers. This threat mandates real action, genuine commitment and clear vision in order to contain, defeat and uproot. We have a public health issue that requires a political solution.
One way we honor the victims of the long list of mass-shootings crimes including these latest two this past week is by rising to the occasion and not using the crisis for political grandstanding. The rising challenge of the violence and extremism epidemic requires all to unite facing this danger that keep claiming innocent lives. This challenge is not limited to law enforcement and people only. It’s a serious political issue facing America.
Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. He began writing in 1975 publishing The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues as Special US Correspondent for the Arab News ArabNews.com, at TheArabDailyNews.com, and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday, the Orlando Sentinel, Houston Chronical, and Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
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