Stop being scared of traveling to Europe: fight ISIS’ attempt at fear-mongering

Sabrina Suen, Opinion Editor

Fear is a funny thing. It’s irrational, all-consuming and often times misplaced. People fear things they don’t understand, things they can’t explain and things they can’t control. And in today’s digital age, people fear the things that the media tells them to fear.
It’s not hard to get someone to fear ISIS. With the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, people everywhere are on high alert, afraid that they might be next. With the media offering 24/7 updates on the latest ISIS activities and the republicans relentlessly calling for more military action to “fight terrorism”, of course people are afraid.
But what people don’t seem to understand is that the most terrifying thing about the ISIS situation is not the potential for a terrorist attack, but the misunderstanding and hostility that this fear breeds.
The US state department currently has a travel alert placed in Europe. To some this may seem like a major red flag, but travel alters only mean that travelers should exercise caution when traveling, not avoid it altogether.
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who I had planned to go on Mr. Kurtz’s Italy trip with. It had only been days since the Brussels attack and my friend very awkwardly informed me that her mom had pulled her from the trip because she didn’t feel like Europe was safe for travel.
I was stunned. Although I had had a similar conversation with my own mom about Europe’s safety, it had been nothing more than a passing comment that we both easily laughed off. It had never occurred to me that someone would actually act on what I saw as a minor risk.
What makes me so frustrated about the country’s fear of ISIS is that we seem to be playing exactly into their hands. Terrorist organizations thrive off of fear. Their entire purpose is to instill terror in the hearts and minds of people like us. Like playground bullies, the more you react to their threats, the more they are encouraged by your response.
People do not understand that the best way to fight ISIS is to not let them change us, to not let their terror make us enact foreign policies that are based on emotionally stimulated fear rather than rational diplomacy.