So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
-The Art of War by Sun Tzu
In the world of countering violent extremism (CVE), recognizing the actual enemy is as important as not mislabeling people you do not like or agree with.
In the current status quo, mixing theology with political identities, assuming religiosity is the same as radicalization and targeting social conservatives instead of extremists happens frequently.
Let’s consider an analogy below.
Suppose one end of the spectrum is vegans and the other end is cannibals. Everyone is in agreement that the cannibals must be stopped- the “War On Cannibals” must be won. Obvious, right?
Well, the reality is that most people are neither vegan or cannibal. Some eat chicken but not beef, some love hot dogs and peas, others hate carrots. And of course no matter how much someone might love steak or hate salad, they are not tempted to nibble on human flesh.
Let’s face it, all meat-eaters are not on the highway to cannibalism with Hannibal Lecter as their guide.
No one wins when the “War on Cannibals” becomes the “Battle on All Meat-Eaters.” Resources are wasted and potential allies are alienated. We need to recruit the cheeseburger-lovers, not exclude them under the pretext that they are budding Jeffrey Dahmers.