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Monday, June 05, 2017

Islam 442

In case you haven't noticed, there's been a lot of hand-wringing over how the world should be handling the issue of radical islamic terrorism.  I've noticed it, too.  I'm probably just as frustrated as anyone who wants to rid the world of a true global plague. Watching national leaders on every side of the problem do little more than issue public statements of condemnation "is the very strongest terms" just isn't cutting it.

Hey, I'm just a branding guy. A strategist. So whenever I see a problem, my first reaction is to suggest some sort of a workable solution or at least ask the right questions.  Some days, a brand strategy is all it takes to turn a business around.  Other days, the same kind of strategy is all it takes to turn a political situation around.  After all, brand strategy is all about human behavior, and as long as we're influencing the human decision-making process, its principles can work almost anywhere -- including combatting radical muslim terrorism.

If you know your history, you need not look too far to find a real, tenable solution to the problem -- only you'd have to look the right place to find it.  In this case, you might want to take a look at the 442nd Regiment Combat Team of the second world war:

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team is an infantry regiment of the United States Army, part of the Army Reserve. The regiment was a fighting unit composed almost entirely of American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (mostly from Hawaii) who fought in World War II. Most of the families of mainland Japanese Americans were confined to internment camps in the United States interior. Beginning in 1944, the regiment fought primarily in Europe during World War II,[2] in particularItalysouthern France, and Germany.
The 442nd Regiment was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American warfare.[3]The 4,000 men who initially made up the unit in April 1943 had to be replaced nearly 2.5 times. In total, about 14,000 men served, earning 9,486 Purple Hearts. The unit was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations (five earned in one month).[4]:201 Twenty-one of its members were awarded Medals of Honor.[2] Its motto was "Go for Broke".

The above Wikileaks summary gives you a good idea of what Japanese, Italian and German Americans were up against when they were relocated into internment camps as part of the American war defense.  It was not a pretty time, but the reaction of each group tells a remarkably similar story:

While they were innocent victims, Japanese, Italian and German Americans took it upon themselves to prove their character by taking up arms against the very people from whom they descended. If you've ever read the chilling accounts of the 442 in Italy -- overtaking Nazi positions thought impenetrable -- there's no doubt of what true American heroism is about.

It doesn't get more convincing -- or effective -- than that. So I guess the big question here is where is the muslim 442?

We live in an age of super media, where data and publicity zip around the world far faster than they did in 1944.  News travels in seconds instead of weeks.  Given Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and every other social medium, it seems the muslim world could do itself a lot of good if it enlisted its own on behalf of its western friends.

Let me be clear: Cultural and racist issues against Japanese, Italian and German Americans didn't suddenly stop after the second world war. But less than a decade later, their situations were greatly improved, and our enemies were vanquished, thanks largely to the 442 and the like.

History provides all the lessons we need.  It's just a question if anyone really wants to learn them.

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