Millennials Waking Up to the Threat of Terrorism?

I often show the 2006 documentary Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West to my college students.  For many, it is an incredible eye-opener.  With the latest terrorist attacks by jihadists in Paris and California, this movie is particularly relevant.  And the comments by the students speak volumes.

A student who hails from Africa writes:

I'm disgusted by the fact that extreme Muslim people taught children to hate Christians and Jews.  I'm offended because I am a Christian and I wouldn't want any of this wished upon someone else.  But above all, we are in the day and age where old texts aren't morally acceptable, like for example, in the Koran, Allah states that you shouldn't befriend Christians and Jews.

A young man who served in the armed forces explains:

... the film is a great method of educating and updating people around the world with the issues we are facing with the Islamic community.  We are sitting at the end of 2015 still dealing with attacks, refusing to face the fact that they are out to destroy anyone who doesn't follow their believes [sic].

A young Hindu student remarks:

... this film was edjucational [sic] and should be shown throughout America in all schools.  Maybe American children are too unaware of this group of people who don't value human life.  Kids these days are only worried about likes and comments, while Islam is teaching their kids how to disguise themselves and blend in among crowds.  We are becoming vulnerable and falling behind.  Just like Hitler, the head of this movement should be killed.  They are taking the joy of a child and replacing it with hate.  Not only are they taking a child's innocence, but people don't expect kids to be suicide bombers.

A young female student who worried about the possibility of another World War writes:

Children are taught at a very young age to hate infidels which is something that basically ruins their lives because hate will only lead to violence.  The jihadists are using Islam as their excuse to want to kill anybody who does not approve of their way of life.  The sad part is many other Muslims are put into a box with the jihadist, so the whole wide world assumes that every Muslim wants to destroy the world. 

More visceral reactions from these students comes in the following:

My only reaction to this video is a great amount of disgust and hatred.  To be honest there was [sic] many times I wanted to leave the room just because of how mad the video was making me.  I am happy that there are good Muslims out there that do not agree with the terrorists. That brings my hopes up, but all this protesting and speeches do very little in my eyes to stop the terrorists.  Children are being taught to hate and to kill for Allah.  Also I think it is interesting that the terrorists burned down all religious centers where they are except for the mosque and here in America we have places for Muslims to practice their religion.  It baffles me.

An African-American female athlete writes that she has learned:

... a lot of cultures have had problems with Jews.  It is sad for all Jews to be Jewish because they cannot be proud of who they are without persecution.  I live in a town which is predominantly Jewish and they are the quietiest [sic] and most harmless people.  In my opinion, how countries treat Jews is how a bully would treat a quiet student who bothers no one.  They just want something to pick on. I don't watch the news but I believe this DVD has better informed me than any news or book or program would have. 

Another student from the Dominican Republic admits that he:

... never really cared about the threat of terrorism. It's strange how I could be so oblivious and indifferent to the things happening around me in the world.  My eyes have truly been open [sic] to the truth.  I also hate how people try to use religion to justify hateful actions. 

Another female student asserted that "it is extremely disturbing" how "the [terrorists] are giving their children lessons on how to hate.  Before this DVD was shown in class, I had no idea how terrifying this war was between us and the Islamic world.  I believe that Americans need to wake up before it is too late and protect our nation."

In addition, a young woman said that she "did not know how drastic the situation was."  She went on to explain:

... the guys at [her] job made jokes about jihad but when [she] told them about everything that [she] had seen in the film, they began to think about these situations more seriously.  [She] is thinking of building a bomb shelter because [she is] a strong Christian and [she] will continue to be so, as safely as [she]  can be and believes that God will provide for [her] and [her] family.

A  young woman whose parents come from Azerbaijan writes:

... the treatment of Jewish [sic] particularly and the degree to which anti-semitism still runs rampant post-WWII is shocking.  It's difficult to imagine the culture and circumstances that could raise such blind hatred in a group of people.

These students are all college freshmen.  Their raw responses draw from a reservoir of feelings that many Americans are experiencing as we witness the far too regular Islamic terrorist attacks worldwide and in the United States.  Yet with only one powerful film juxtaposed with in-class discussions of the freedoms of the Bill of Rights, these students are showing an intellectual acuity and common sense that far too many of our leaders long ago abandoned.  These students clearly perceive the danger of Islamic jihad while Obama and too many politically correct possible jihadist sympathizers and spineless officials downplay the genuine danger assailing America and the world.

Clarifying the incompatibility between American freedom and Islamic jihadist terror is the most urgent issue of our time.  As one student writes:

... radical Islamism must not be allowed to be spread any further than it has already.  The ideas and beliefs are to the detriment of society as a whole.  To wish to spread nothing but death in the name of any god not only distorts the idea of sound and reasonable religion but also imposes generalizations from skeptics on every other religion.  While the majority of Muslims in the world are moderate and oppose these extremist beliefs the fact still remains that far too many are not speaking out against it.  Peace is not something that is given.  Peace is something that must be won.

Yet, when confronted with the actual number of 330-plus million Muslims out of one billion Muslims who do support jihad and the imposition of sharia law, the students realize that "small" is a relative term.

Finally, "modern day extremists use almost all the same motives Nazi Germany used in the 1940s for world domination.  If Americans and people around the world acknowledge these issues and don't act on them, we are waiting for our demise."  And "it is only right that Muslims need to realize that they cannot overpower the world and deprive people from their own religion."

A few semesters back, I received an email from a student.  She wrote, "I am your former student from last semester. Though you may not remember me, I want to say thank you for educating me and our class on the Middle East, our rights, and sharia law.  If it wasn't for you I would not understand what is going on in the world.  Just wanted to show some appreciation."

Out of the mouths of babes come many truths.  Now we must act, for the time is growing short, and we owe these young people our best efforts. 

Eileen can be reached at

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