01/12/2015 11:48 am ET Updated Mar 14, 2015

Ending Radicalization and Extremism

Once again, we are all shocked by the senseless slaughter of human beings, as took place on Wednesday in Paris. In the now familiar refrain of our age, extremists in the name of Islam took it upon themselves to shoot the editor and employees of a satirical cartoon, Charlie Hebdo. In the end, nearly twenty innocent people have died. The killers have also died. That means mothers have lost their sons as well, and worse their deaths will not be mourned.

Anti-religious people and Islamaphobes are using this as an opportunity to make their point that all religion is bad, or in particular, all Islam is bad. This is not the point, and in fact, it is not even a fair point. The actual point is the fanaticism and radicalization, displaced youth, in particular are vulnerable to. Of those responsible for the largest death toll in the history of humankind, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, none of them used religion as their rational. The thing they had in common is fanaticism. While it is true that religion has been used throughout history to justify wrongdoing, it is also true that fanatics have used various reasons, religion being only one. To say otherwise, shows no grasp of history. Nationalism, idealized communism was used by the named parties above. Ethnic cleansing was used by Slobodan Miloševićin to justify his terror. The Great War, World War I was started in part by the youth group, Blackhand, "who were radicalized seeking unification. In the early part of the 20th century, as witnessed by the death of the Arch Duke Ferdinand, and President McKinley, radical anarchy was the justification for killing. So it goes in history, radicalism, extremism is not new. In our time, extremists have focused on Islam as their vehicle for evil doing.

Our attention must shift to deterring radicalism and extremism of any sort. The problem in France seems to be complex. They have youth who don't feel at home in France. They are unemployed and hopeless. They fall prey to the waiting arms of radicalism. We must find a way to combat extremism and radicalization. Youth must be moved away from nihilism and provided a new message of hope and possibility.

As the brother of the slain Muslim police officer Malek Marabel said, "One must not confuse extremists with Muslims. Madmen have neither religion, nor color."