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COLUMN: ‘Root causes’ are important

When subjects such as sociology are attacked by politicians, it displays the very 'root' problems existent in the political system today.

It is an embarrassing and shameful moment in politics when leaders decide to attack educational subjects and deeper thinking, just for their own ulterior motives.

In the wake of the tragic and sad Boston Marathon bombings, Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to use the moment to attack federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. In regards to the bombing, Trudeau had stated that “over the coming days, we have to look at the root causes” of terrorism.

Certainly, any terrorist act which threatens the lives of innocent individuals must be condemned harshly.  However, it is often the easy route for both politicians and the public to ignore the root causes of terrorism.

In attacking Trudeau, for example, Harper stated that “this is not a time to commit sociology.” According to Oxford Dictionaries, sociology is defined as “the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.” Maybe it is time for our politicians to take a few introductory courses in social science subjects.

When subjects such as sociology are attacked by politicians, it displays the very “root” problems existent in the political system today. These comments not only display a very paradoxical stance, but also help to illustrate the superficial approach to some of the most pressing issues of our times.

It seems that when any politician decides to crawl out of this crab bucket of narrow-minded thinking, others are close behind to attack the common-sense approach.

Harper’s comments are not only an affront to Canadians, but also an assault on critical thinking.  It is also a challenge to Canadians across this country to actually read and understand global problems and look at some of the “root causes.”

Individuals prone to terrorism experience a mixture of radicalization and grievances (either perceived or genuine). We must understand this and take a proactive approach when combating terrorism. Let’s not make critical thinking a scapegoat in our fight against radicalization. To combat terrorism, we must do more than turn to the convenient and simplistic answer. In fact, if we are to beat terrorism, we must stop practising narrow-minded thinking.

We’re all aware that terrorist attacks can leave destruction and mayhem in their path. But is it asking too much to actually dig deeper and look at what causes these situations in the first place? By erecting a wall against subjects such as sociology, Harper not only displays his own sense of ignorance, but also underscores the importance for students and citizens across this country to increase their own awareness. We must enroll in subjects like sociology and political science to understand for ourselves just how powerful these subjects can be in combating societal parasites like terrorism.

No reason or grievance is a justification for the massacre of innocent civilians. And it is this fact that further supports the need for understanding what causes terrorist attacks.  Understanding the problem before addressing the solution seems to be the most obvious solution. It is only through understanding social science subjects that we can create the outreach programs and systems that prevent homegrown radicalization.

In fact, in the VIA Rail terror plot, it was an Imam who performed a noble cause by reaching out to the RCMP and giving them a tip.

In Ontario, the RCMP and other such organizations have also been creating greater outreach programs with different communities over the past few years. These are all examples of organizations taking proactive steps to understand and communicate with different communities to rectify some of the root causes of radicalization.

To all sociology and social science students, I say: continue to dig deeper to identify the “root causes” and don’t be discouraged by negative comments.

Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University Surrey. He writes regularly for The Leader.

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