Last weekend revealed the news that al-Shabaab, the militant Islamist organization that rules parts of Somalia ISIS-style, appeared to encourage attacks at American (and Canadian) shopping malls. Maybe the Shabaab video was just a prank to scare us. Maybe it was an attempt to plant violent thoughts in the minds of Somalis living in the United States. No one believes that the organization itself is capable of attacking Americans where they live, but that doesn't mean Shabaab-inspired violence is impossible. At any rate, it's unsettling to be advised to watch out for terrorism when we shop at the mall.
But here's the thing, writes Sheldon Richman: We don't have to live this way. We must understand that people in the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia who subscribe to fringe militant interpretations of Islam would not be wishing us harm except for the violence the U.S. government has inflicted or helped to inflict on Muslim societies for many decades. We can live without the fear of terrorism, argues Richman, but only if the U.S. government stops antagonizing foreign populations that have never threatened us.