We shouldn’t misinterpret Sanders on security

During the course of U.S. presidential elections, it is to be expected that statements will be distorted for the sole purpose of discrediting a candidate that one does not approve of.

As Americans, we have grown accustomed to the media blasting soundbites out of context and flipping it so that it satisfies their agenda.

Most recently, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ statement that climate change is related to the growth of terrorism is being misconstrued to paint him as irrational and deluded.

Thus, I think it is in order to give a fair look at what Sanders said and see if there’s any weight to it at all, rather than just simply dismiss it as the words of a madman.

To quote Sanders directly, “…climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.
If we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re gonna see countries all over the world this is what the CIA says they’re going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops, and you’re going to see all kinds of international conflict.”

The views of my counterpart, who passionately argued that a group like ISIS should never be understood within context, are the type of views that have arbitrarily brought us into wars in the past.

However, if we have a fully contextualized understanding of how groups like ISIS came about, perhaps even understanding how climate change could’ve had a role in that, knowing that it in no way justifies their actions, might be a step forward in creating peace in that environment.

Admittedly, Sanders’ words were a bit overstated. The primary mistake he made was using the word “directly” while describing the correlation between climate change and terrorism.
A lack of clear articulation, however, should not be used to smear Sanders and dismissively reject his claim.

I think the most rational interpretation of Sanders’ statement is that the problems caused by climate change in impoverished regions (such as minimal amounts of water or crops), many of which are already lacking in necessary resources, combined with radical religious principles and made even worse by intense geopolitical circumstances, can result in groups that act out aggressively and violently.

In less extreme cases, this happens in the United States with street gangs that rose originally from poverty and resulted in violence. It isn’t very difficult to believe given the various examples we have.
If we are to call someone out for an outrageous statement, let us at least understand the context in which that person is speaking.

The world is made worse by people who take statements at face-value without comprehending the substance of the statements themselves. If we speak from our cognitive biases alone, we run the risk of only understanding the world through one viewpoint.

People should be open to different viewpoints and ready to counter them with evidence and logic, not authoritatively toss away an argument because someone stubbornly only accepts one viewpoint.