Terrorism is a growing concern in our international community and there are many voices out there about how we should deal with such threats. One voice, Republican front-runner Donald Trump, has called for targeting families of terrorists in our defensive measures. It is not a new idea. This has been Russia’s strategy for years as they’ve seen multiple attacks perpetrated by siblings. It’s a trend seen as recently as last week’s attack in Brussels that involved three brothers. But a recent New York Times article discusses the implications of such a policy. In a world where you are considered guilty merely for the actions of those whose blood you share, there isn’t a true sense of justice or confidence in authorities’ actions. The article discusses the story of one family affected dramatically by this profiling policy. Russian authorities identified one young man as being suspected of terrorist activities. He did not deny his involvement, but later, his younger brother was also accused. He couldn’t be linked in any way except that his brother was already in jail. Because of these suspicions held about family members of terrorists, the younger brother was targeted and was shot and killed by security forces although he was never tried as a terrorist. The story does not stop there and now his Kindergarten-age children are on government watch-lists.
We do not usually support “guilty-by-association” arguments, but that is what the Russian strategy has been. It hasn’t proven very successful. An analyst for the International Crisis Group said that this strategy doesn’t produce success in counter-terrorism measures because “you can prevent some episodes of violence at the moment” with such measures, but “you are radicalizing whole communities” for the future. The injustice committed by the government against innocent people leads to anger and future unrest. That’s exactly what the government is trying to avoid, but they are employing the wrong tactics to do so. In such cases, Mr. Trump’s plan leaves the U.S. open to increased violence down the line. The implications of such a strategy are too great for us to overlook. You cannot think that brutally maintaining a level of peace now will solve the problem. Growing terrorism cannot be swept under the rug in the face of some moments of peace gained by the taking of innocent life. Such behavior will only weaken our security down the line. Each person deserves to be evaluated for their own actions and achievements. Once we begin classifying people based on the actions of others, we diminish human rights and devalue those lives. That’s what some may want, but it’s not what our constitution defends.