10 things terrorists want us to do right now:

My Jewish Grandfather taught me that one of the goals of other Jewish men and women who had survived the Holocaust was to not allow Hitler even the smallest victory.

That grandfather was one of the kindest men I ever knew and I recognized that this was the very first way he found to disallow Hitler any small victory at all – by remaining who he was at the core, without change, without reflecting the madman.

I think about that today and about what the terrorists in the news really want. I consider what it would take to be as strong as my grandfather and give them none of it.

10. They want us to act and live in fear
That’s possibly the biggest win. If we change our everyday lives for them, look over our shoulder constantly, react in a hyperaware way at all times, in fear and concern for our well being, they get to stop us in our tracks. Fear doesn’t build things, it destroys. Fear won’t make great businesses and brilliant media, captivating music, remarkable medical advances spread across populations. It doesn’t make joy. If they get us to act in fear, they get us backed into a cage.
9. They want us to live in the past
One of the most unique parts of this battle is that it is with a group whose ideology points to the past rather than the future. It serves their purposes if we embrace the past as well. If they can convince us to ignore our desire to be on the right side of history, to believe in the future, to build a better, more free future, they win. When we consider how to behave, behavior that invokes the aggression and tribalism of the past is their preference. This is their infection.
8. They want us to kill innocent people
The story they want to tell the Muslim world is that the US is a murderer. Every time we engage in an act of collateral damage, we tell that story for them. If they can get us to act like murderers, they have a clear moral obfuscation that can help them to recruit. And they are not just recruiting fighters. They are recruiting investors. When we kill, they get paid.
7. They want us to hate Muslims
If we take this opportunity to hate the Muslim world, we do their job for them. Every person of Islamic faith we unfairly reject and treat badly becomes someone they believe they can target to recruit. And while the overwhelming majority want nothing to do with them, it still splits us off from potential allies- people who AREN’T killers and destroyers.
6. They want us to turn away refugees and fear outsiders
When we turn away the very refugees that they have scared and traumatized, we victimize them again, in partnership with the terrorists. And we keep telling their story, an America that doesn’t care about most of the world, that wants them to die. They want us rejecting people that they can begin to pull in as supporters. It’s a long road to becoming a supporter of real evil but the first step may be feeling like no one else wants you.
5. They want us to spend money on death. And here’s why.
Out of all the things we could spend money on, they want us to divert it to killing. And it’s not just because killing satisfies their story- the tale they are telling new recruits. But for another shockingly simple reason. When we spend money on art, on science, on medicine, education, etc. we move into the future. They want the whole world to live in the past and are terrified by each movement in our chosen direction. Spending money on death slows our passage to the future.
4. They want us to stop focusing on what’s important
The minute we focus all our energy into anger, directed at them, we let other “plates” fall. The welfare of children, veteran’s needs, feeding people in need, Building our infrastructure, etc. If you had a personal enemy, they would love to see you so obsessed and upset that you forget to eat. We can’t forget to “eat” and take care of ourselves.
3. They want us to move to the right
This organization is a profoundly right wing organization. It is regressive in every sense possible. When we move to the right, in fear, we look like them. We begin to curtail freedoms, we begin to operate in fear, we begin to engage tribally, we backslide, failing to fight for the rights of women and GLBTQ people, we become warlike, intolerant.
2. They want us to fight at their level
The US is the hub of a world that finds success through media, science, reason, good will, intellect, art, beauty, and appeals to our better natures. An American made film that captivates the world, draws in understanding, builds bridges, makes money, puts us all in the same room- this is a huge win. We fought very hard to operate at this level. It’s a level that has a unique set of satisfactions attached to it. It’s a level that is joyful and expressive and builds mental welfare. People don’t suffer from PTSD because they’ve made an amazing piece of art that people can love or have drawn in the world with their impassioned work. They DO, however, suffer PTSD from killing other people. One of the privileges of being an American is the right to play on a battlefield that we are uniquely suited for, one that is just right for us. Terrorists would love to take that away from us.
1. They want us to invoke religion
They know that religion inspires passion. Once we make this a religious battle- one religion versus the other- it becomes unwinnable. It earns them allies and alienates us from potential helpers. It also causes us to act irrationally.

I believe that it’s in our best interests to remember my grandfather’s lesson. Afford Hitler not even the smallest victory. Let’s afford these terrorists not even the smallest victory. And if that means calling them Daesh, I’m totally down with that, too.

Jim Marcus

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