Let past experiences fuel positive change

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    Life experiences can be used in a variety of ways. A negative life experience can become a stepping stone for motivation to change. A positive life experience can assist in directing one’s next endeavor.

    Life experiences often result in change for the good 8212; when in the right hands, that is.

    Brigitte Gabriel, an individual known for her activism against radical Islam, has decided to use her past life experiences, which were negative, to form generalizations.

    Gabriel grew up in Lebanon, and radical Muslims bombed her village. According to an article in The New York Times, Gabriel said she was left injured in a pile of rubble after the bombing.

    Today, Gabriel claims radical Islam also has infiltrated the United States, according to the article. In a response to this infiltration, Gabriel formed an organization called ACT! for America, which strives to educate Americans about the threat radical Islam poses while solving the issue of radical Islam’s influence on the United States.

    Brian Fishman, a representative from the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said in the article Gabriel’s claims were not aiding in limiting radical Islam.

    “When you’ve got folks who are looking for the worst in Islam and are promoting that as the entire religion of 1.5 or 1.6 billion people, then you only empower the real extremists,” he said.

    Fishman’s comment demonstrates the fact that Gabriel is highlighting a faction of Islam that is dangerous that only exists largely in nations where Islam is the predominant religion.

    Gabriel’s efforts, then, are largely based on her own disdain for Islam based on firsthand experience.

    Furthermore, while Americans did experience this type of an attack on 9/11, it was not as personal as Gabriel’s account from Lebanon.

    Most of Gabriel’s support comes from groups that are conservative evangelical Christians, Jews and Christians who are hard-line supporters of Israel and tea party Republicans.

    In fact, it was at a tea party rally in Fort Worth on Sept. 18 that Gabriel broadcast her message.

    What’s more, Gabriel has claimed that ACT! for America is not affiliated with any religious or political preference, yet she regularly appears on conservative talk radio and talk shows, such as “The O’Reilly Factor.”

    Gabriel’s denial of ideological affiliation and the subsequent affiliation with ideological groups suggests that she has a radical agenda, which can be found in her rhetoric. She uses statements such as “hate-mongering” and “ideologue” to describe racial Islam, yet ironically fails to recognize that she is portraying herself as a hatemonger and ideologue by using those terms.

    Divisive rhetoric and action like this, not limited only to Islam, has also caused recent chaos in the United States, as shown by January’s Tucson shootings.

    Although the United States was attacked in a serious manner on 9/11, no one has the right to perpetuate violence. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no reciprocity of violence.

    Gabriel has allowed her past experiences, which were truly devastating, to be an excuse for irrational revenge.

    Her goal should not be to perpetuate the feelings she felt as a young girl in Lebanon. Instead, Gabriel’s best bet would be to appeal objectively to the fact of the matter 8212; not every Muslim is a radical and violence does not deserve more violence.

    Wyatt Kanyer is a junior news-editorial and Spanish double major from Yakima, Wash.

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