News Release

“When Were They Radicalized? That’s Not the Right Question!”

Rev. GRAYLAN S. HAGLER, gshagler at verizon.net@graylanhagler
Hagler is with the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. and chairperson of Faith Strategies. He just wrote the piece “When Were They Radicalized? That’s Not the Right Question!” — which states: “The big question these days dominating the airwaves is when was Syed Farook and Tasheen Malik radicalized; or who radicalized them; and how were they radicalized? This question is a perplexing one because it assumes that without outside influence everything would be all right and that there are no valid grievances, or anger, and no desire for revenge or justice no matter how misguided those desires might be manifested.

“This is a strange line of query because it presupposes that without external forces radicalization would be impossible. This line of questioning illustrates a blind patriotism of empire proportion that believes that anyone upset and acting out is either demented or have fallen under the influences of a political/religious ideology that exploits the weak minded or the mentally deranged. To even ask the question is to make the assumption that everything is OK around us and in our world and would be regarded as such if it were not for outside influences. But this perspective has a tendency to ignore the realities of what so many people live under and have to endure daily. It is often from personal experiences, relationships with those impacted by what most of us don’t see or care about are the radicalizing factors. The present queries act as if there are no valid grievances, no real anger, and as if there is innocence on the part of the powerful, the U.S. and others. But this is not the way that peoples of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia see the U.S. or the West.

“The U.S. and its partners have been at war for more than 14 years in Afghanistan. The U.S. began an unprovoked and preemptive war in Iraq in 2003 and virtually destroyed the country where today ISIL is filling part of the vacuum created by that war, and the President of Afghanistan literally is presiding over nothing but the capital city of that country, Kabul. The U.S. under the cry of removing President Bashar Hafez al-Assad in Syria by helping to orchestrate and sustain a civil war has created a displacement crisis of epic proportion and caused the deaths of more than 250,000 people. Conditions in many countries have worsened under the wars and the remaking of the Middle East and North Africa in the West’s image.” Similarly, Hagler writes: “Our continual military support of Israel against Palestinians challenges the view that everything is OK without the influences of ‘outside agitators’ radicalizing people and calling them to arms.”