Professor R. N. Singh of Texas A & M University-Commerce told students in the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Freshman Studies course that one way to combat suicide terrorism is to counter its allure with non-violent teachings.
Singh — head of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the Texas school — addressed the students in the Hathaway-Howard Fine Arts Auditorium Thursday morning .
“Mahatma Gandhi in India relied heavily upon the teachings of Jesus Christ in leading his non-violent struggle against the British occupation of his country,” Singh said. “In turn, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated a path of non-violence in the struggle for civil rights in America and drew upon the successful campaign by Gandhi to bring the British occupation to an end in modeling his movement.”
“Non-violence itself is an ideology and it takes courage to practice it,” Singh said. “Terrorism is a tough topic to deal with. You need to try to understand violence in society. Charles Darwin taught that nature is full of violence with different species killing and consuming other species for survival. In the survival of the fittest, Darwin taught that the strongest species became dominant over the others. We believe that humans are the fittest due to our intelligence.”
Singh said that human beings have much more complex patterns of violence than do other species.
“Terrorism is a dirty kind of violence,” Singh said. “National armies have a set of rules that they attempt to go by. For instance, there are attempts to protect civilians. Terrorism often deliberately targets civilians. It is not a fair kind of violence. Terrorism is violence based on an ego-focused warfare. Violence is not a rational process and is based on either revenge, control or some other selfish goal.”
Singh said that religion itself is not a cause for terrorism but it can be used as a justification for its use.
“Islam is not a violent religion,” Singh said. “But scriptures can be interpreted by those with vested interests in justifying certain actions. It is a process of legitimization. Would-be Muslim suicide terrorists are told that they will be attended to by 72 virgins in paradise after they carry out the attack. This is how people attempt to legitimize something that is irrational.”
Singh said that secular societies do a good job of keeping religion and government separate which is helpful in blunting the appeal of suicide terrorism.
“The United States have been very effective in separating the two with the protections of the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution,” Singh said. “Democracy and secularism go hand in hand. We need to plan for the future of this planet in a rational way.”