Why join ISIS?

Posted: December 10, 2015 by watsonthethird in Current Events, Terrorism
Tags: , ,

The Atlantic published an interesting piece yesterday, titled “Why Join ISIS?”. It summarizes the findings by Quantum Communications, which analyzed the statements of 49 current and former ISIS fighters to determine their motivations for joining ISIS. You can read more at The Atlantic, but here is the summary. The Quantum researchers grouped the fighters into nine categories, based on the reasons they gave for joining ISIS or other extremist groups. They are:

    • Status seekers: Intent on improving “their social standing” these people are driven primarily by money “and a certain recognition by others around them.”
    • Identity seekers: Prone to feeling isolated or alienated, these individuals “often feel like outsiders in their initial unfamiliar/unintelligible environment and seek to identify with another group.” Islam, for many of these provides “a pre-packaged transnational identity.”
    • Revenge seekers: They consider themselves part of a group that is being repressed by the West or someone else.
    • Redemption seekers: They joined ISIS because they believe it vindicates them, or ameliorates previous sinfulness.
    • Responsibility seekers: Basically, people who have joined or support ISIS because it provides some material or financial support for their family.
    • Thrill seekers: Joined ISIS for adventure.
    • Ideology seekers: These want to impose their view of Islam on others.
    • Justice seekers: They respond to what they perceive as injustice. “The justice seekers’ ‘raison d’être’ ceases to exist once the perceived injustice stops,” the report says.
    • Death seekers: These people “have most probably suffered from a significant trauma/loss in their lives and consider death as the only way out with a reputation of martyr instead of someone who has committed suicide.”

The researchers also categorized the various influences that led to the fighters joining ISIS, which are counted up in this chart:

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From the article:

Perhaps one of the most important findings is that the fighters’ motivations tended to vary by their country of origin.

Foreign fighters in the sample from places like the United States and Western Europe were far more likely to be facing some sort of identity crisis, a desire for a personal sense of recognition that ISIS can provide. They were also more likely to be motivated by a rejection of Western culture. A story in The New York Times over the summer, titled “ISIS and the Lonely Young American” detailed how ISIS sympathizers made contact with a curious and socially isolated Westerner and then manufactured a sense of community and belonging through constant online interaction (not simply one-way messaging, as some have suggested).

People in the sample who joined ISIS or similar groups from another Muslim country, however, were far more motivated by the perceived plight of the Syrian Sunnis. For this group, the report found that “assisting Muslim ‘brothers’ and fighting the Assad regime are the most common catalysts (45 percent).” They were primarily thrill and status seekers.

The fact that joining ISIS or a similar group could improve one’s immediate social status underscores how differently ISIS is perceived in the Arab world than in the West.

Sunni fighters primarily from Syria and Iraq were also motivated by money and status. “Internal fighters believe they have a mission to defend their community (duty, Jihad) but they also have personal interests (money, staying alive),” according to the report.

It quotes one jihadist: “He asked me, ‘Why don’t you join us … leave your work and consider me your financier.’”

Clearly, a survey of 49 people is not a scientific poll, but it does give some insight as to the varied themes that attract individuals to ISIS. One thing it reinforces is the degree to which Shia-Sunni conflicts dominate, as well as the extent to which money is a motivating factor.

In any event, the article goes on to describe efforts, both current and planned, to “reach the group’s target audiences with something more appealing.” As I was saying to Rusty in the comments of my previous post, as long as there are recruits, ISIS will continue to survive, if not thrive. The key to neutralizing ISIS is to cut off the flow of recruits, and the key to doing that is to make ISIS a less attractive (indeed, completely unattractive) options to the alternatives.

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Comments
  1. rustybrown2014 says:

    I agree that this sampling is unscientific. Still, I’m not surprised to see my thesis supported: Out of 71 responses to the question “Why we fight”, religion is a catalyst in more than half. Depending how you interpret the categories (for instance, whether to include those who profess to be “defending Sunnis”, which is a religious conflict after all), it’s not unreasonable to conclude Islam is a catalyst for the vast majority of respondents.

  2. Rusty, moving your comment to me in the previous threat to here, since it’s more topical here. Rusty said:

    Watson, my question refers to an unacceptably large minority interpretation of Islam that is inspiring jihadists to the violence we’re talking about. I’m afraid you’re coming very close to proving my original point: When I mention the ideology that’s motivating the jihadists murderers you invoke all of the world’s 1.6 Muslims. I find that obfuscation depressing but per my original post, not unexpected.

    I see two flaws in your argument. The first is your blanket statement that ISIS is a bastardization of Islam. I’m loath to get into a True Scotsman debate, or in this case, True Muslim, but suffice to say that the notion that apostasy is an intolerable sin worthy of death is well supported in the Quran while specific punishments for infidels and rewards for martyrs (including the 72 virgins promise) are detailed in the Hadiths. Jihad and the conversion or death of infidels is arguably the central thesis of the Quran. Why is it a bastardization to take these holy texts seriously?

    Your second mistake is underestimating or downplaying the size of the problem. You describe ISIS as small in number, similar to a cult. Yet ISIS alone is in the tens of thousands, perhaps as many as 200,000 and could be growing. Even on the low end, I wouldn’t characterize that as a small number. And if you take Muslims who sympathize with and/or support the views of ISIS, a population ripe for breeding future jihadists and perpetuating terrorism, we see numbers in the tens, perhaps hundreds of millions. That’s some cult we’re talking about there, Watson. But nothing to worry about, right? Just a few disillusioned kids, is it?

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/428146/more-than-few-islamic-extremists

    You lost me when you accused me of obfuscation. That wasn’t my intent and I’m kind of surprise that that was your reaction. But whatever.

    I freely admit that when I was thinking of the cult-like attraction to ISIS, I was primarily thinking of individuals who are born and raised in western countries, who then become radicalized and join ISIS and carry out terrorist (and possibly suicidal) attacks against the west. What causes them to do that? My reference to a cult was that a) I think many individuals from the west are attracted to ISIS in the same way that individuals are attracted to destructive cults that are loosely based on, say, Christianity, and b) ISIS is relatively small. I don’t know if you read the “Sunday long read” I posted a few weeks ago, but it is an interesting deep dive into the French Muslim community. Not only does this type of recruitment remind me of cults, it also reminds me of the allure of gangs right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

    The fighters recruited from within Syria and Iraq are a different category, I think. I would imagine that it is not hard to join the fight when your home is being bombed on a regular basis, or when the prevailing government has subjugated your people for years. That’s more of a political issue to me, and that’s how I would interpret “Defending Sunnis” in the above chart.

  3. rustybrown2014 says:

    Really? You think the Sunni/Shia conflict is primarily political (whatever that means) and not religious? That’s a new one on me. Pray tell, what are these “political” pressures that have been vexing these rival sects for centuries?

    Since you’ve ignored the majority of my arguments outlining the religious underpinnings for jihad, let me pose a few as direct questions:

    Do you think that radical Islam is largely responsible for the worldwide terrorist acts we’re seeing?

    Do you feel that Islam is in need of reformation?

    Given that ISIS bases it’s agenda on a literalist interpretation of the Quran and Hadiths, why aren’t they Islamic, or at least radical Islamists?

    Polls show that hundreds of millions of Muslims harbor severe anti-semitism, favor death for apostasy, blasphemy and homosexuality, support suicide bombings, favor Sharia law over secular law, practice rampant and horrific sexism, and can’t bring themselves to condemn ISIS. Do you think these views have nothing to do with Islam? Do think these views are problematic? Do you think these views have a place in Western societies?

  4. Yes, I think it is largely a political conflict. See, for example, “Sunni-Shia Tensions Are More About Politics, Power and Privilege Than Theology”

    Do you think that radical Islam is largely responsible for the worldwide terrorist acts we’re seeing?

    I think there is a perversion of Islam embodied by groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS that is responsible for terrorist attacks. I do not believe the Islam itself condones this behavior. You apparently do.

    Do you feel that Islam is in need of reformation?

    I already said, “I absolutely do believe that the Muslim community at large needs to forcefully denounce ideologies like ISIS that are promulgated in the name of Islam.” I wouldn’t call that a reformation, but Muslims worldwide must own up to the fact that their religion is being hijacked in the name of a terrible ideology, and Muslims worldwide need to confront this.

    Given that ISIS bases it’s agenda on a literalist interpretation of the Quran and Hadiths, why aren’t they Islamic, or at least radical Islamists?

    I don’t care if they are called Islamist terrorists, or radical Islamists. I think any group could seize upon “literalist interpretations” of holy scriptures, including the Bible, to pervert those scriptures. The pressing problem now is that this is being done in the name of Islam, so as I said above, the Muslim community at large needs to address this. There’s an interesting video making the rounds in which people are read verses that they believe are from the Quran, which merely confirms their preconceived notions of Islam. Of course, the verses turned out to be literal readings from Bible. It demonstrates the assumptions that people make without any knowledge of Islam or their own religion.

    Polls show that hundreds of millions of Muslims harbor severe anti-semitism, favor death for apostasy, blasphemy and homosexuality, support suicide bombings, favor Sharia law over secular law, practice rampant and horrific sexism, and can’t bring themselves to condemn ISIS. Do you think these views have nothing to do with Islam? Do think these views are problematic? Do you think these views have a place in Western societies?

    Of course those views have to do with Islam. But they also have to do with the political circumstances in which people live. There are also views that many Americans hold that I find stupid and repulsive. Most people don’t kill in the name of their stupid beliefs, but some do. I would just add that the views you cite might also be colored by living in a continuous war zone largely driven by the same reasons as most wars: power and politics.

    Since you enjoy issuing questions, I guess you would also enjoy responding to them.

    Did you know that in a 2011 Gallup poll, Muslim Americans are more likely than Christians or Jews to believe that targeting and killing civilians is never justified, whether it is done by the military or an individual? That is, Christians and Jews are more comfortable with civilians being targeted and killed by a wide margin. Why do you think that is?

    I previously asked you to provide substantiation of the 72 virgin thing. You did not. Can you do so?

    Do you think Islam, the religion itself, is the primary cause of terrorism?

    Do you believe that bombing and invading other countries can create radicals within those countries that would do us harm?

    • rustybrown2014 says:

      “I think there is a perversion of Islam embodied by groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS that is responsible for terrorist attacks. I do not believe the Islam itself condones this behavior. You apparently do.”

      I’m guessing you’ve never read the Quran, Watson. Have a look at these passages and explain to me how Islam does not condone the behavior of ISIS. You never answered the question: How exactly is ISIS a “perversion” or a “bastardization” of a holy texts that say:

      “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.”

      “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”

      “Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame, etc.), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, Allah has promised good (Paradise), but Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward “

      “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”

      “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!”

      “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.”

      “Killing Unbelievers is a small matter to us”

      …and on and on and on.

      http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/quran/023-violence.htm

      Answer the question Watson: How are the actions of ISIS incompatible with these words?

      “There’s an interesting video making the rounds in which people are read verses that they believe are from the Quran, which merely confirms their preconceived notions of Islam. Of course, the verses turned out to be literal readings from Bible. It demonstrates the assumptions that people make without any knowledge of Islam or their own religion.”

      So what? Most educated people know both books contain vile prescriptions, I’m not surprised you can find some knucklheads who don’t. You’re really going to lean on “yeah but the Bible has bad things in it too” canard? The issue here is which religion has undergone an enlightened reform and which religion still has hundreds of millions of followers specifically preferring the iron age barbarism of it’s religion to civilized enlightenment. Can you guess which is which? It’s kind of important. Get back to me with the poll that show hundreds of millions of Christians sympathizing with the bombing of abortion clinics.

      “Of course those views have to do with Islam. But they also have to do with the political circumstances in which people live. There are also views that many Americans hold that I find stupid and repulsive. Most people don’t kill in the name of their stupid beliefs, but some do. I would just add that the views you cite might also be colored by living in a continuous war zone largely driven by the same reasons as most wars: power and politics.”

      Right Watson. “Power and politics” is what’s driving female genital mutilation, stoning adulterers, killing apostates, suicidal martyrdom, Sharia and the rest even though the practitioners are explicitly telling us that they are committing such acts specifically because of their religion. Gunman slaughter scores of innocent people shouting “God is great” “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad”, etc. yet you chalk it up to the humdrum sectarian motivations of other wars. One has to wonder what a Muslim extremist would do to make you believe he was motivated by Islam. Apparently, your eagerness to vindicate Islam is limitless.

      This is exactly the type of regressive thinking I was referring to in my original post. I’m afraid this type of unenlightened apologetics will pave the way for fascist demagogues like Trump.

      Lights out. I’ll answer your questions tomorrow.

      • Rusty, I’m not impressed in the slightest by your ability to google Quran quotes and choose from the website religionofpeace.com. But knock yourself out if it makes you feel superior.

      • rustybrown2014 says:

        After several direct questions to you, it’s noted that you’re unable to explain why ISIS is a perversion or bastardization of Islam, as you’ve claimed.

        So I provide direct quotes from the source texts in question and that doesn’t make the slightest dent in your liberal dogma. Your immunization to relevant evidence goes deeper than I thought. I thought disparaging the source while ignoring the content was primarily a childish tactic of right wingers; interesting that it’s now being used by the regressive left. But it makes sense: both of you show an unwillingness to engage with evidence if it runs contrary to your narrative.

        As for your questions (among my answers I’ve posed a few new questions of my own for you, I look forward to your responses):

        1) Until you’re able to provide a link to the poll you’re referencing I’ll withhold comment.

        2) I previously asked you to provide substantiation of the 72 virgin thing. You did not. Can you do so?

        Yes. I mentioned before that the 72 virgin interpretation comes from an Hadith, specifically Sunan al-Tirmidhi Hadith 2562:

        “It was mentioned by Daraj Ibn Abi Hatim, that Abu al-Haytham ‘Adullah Ibn Wahb narrated from Abu Sa’id al-Khudhri, who heard Muhammad saying, ‘The smallest reward for the people of Heaven is an abode where there are eighty thousand servants and seventy-two houri, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine and ruby, as wide as the distance from al-Jabiyyah to San’a.

        3) Do you think Islam, the religion itself, is the primary cause of terrorism?

        If you’re talking about Islamic terrorism, which I assume you are, then yes, I think Islam is the primary cause of Islamic terrorism (sorry for the tautology, but I’m answering the question you asked). This isn’t to discount that sectarian political conflicts can oftentimes add fuel to the motivations of terrorism, but there’s little doubt that the unenlightened prescriptions of Islam themselves are a substantial motivation for terror. After all, there are many Christians in the Middle East, quite often suffering from worse persecution than Muslims in that region (at the hand of religiously motivated Muslims by the way), where are all the Christian suicide bombers?

        4) Do you believe that bombing and invading other countries can create radicals within those countries that would do us harm?
        Yes, as I mentioned above, there are other causes for radicalism outside of religion. But Islamic radicalization and response to pressure is fairly unique and certainly ubiquitous among the world’s populations of aggrieved people. For example, we’ve committed horrible atrocities in South America including bombing and invading. Where is the South American jihad against America? Where are the Nicauraguan suicide bombers blowing up malls in Texas? They don’t exist. Why is that in your view?

        Since you didn’t like my last source maybe I’ll try another. Here we see Muslim clerics at a peace conference explaining to you that what you think of as radical Islam is really mainstream Islam. Why don’t you believe them? Do you know more about Islam these Muslim leaders?

        http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/islam-or-islamophobia2

      • rustybrown2014 says:

        That last question was supposed to be: Do you know more about Islam THAN these Muslim leaders?

      • rustybrown2014 says:

        Watson, perhaps a little more food for thought as you contemplate my last questions to you, a topical article that crystallizes my thoughts much more eloquently than I can, published 15 minutes ago by a passionate reformed radical Islamist. Shall we give a listen?

        http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-beat-islamic-state-1449850833?mod=e2tw

  5. Read the WSJ article. Don’t really disagree with it. “Islamism is not Islam, but it is an offshoot of Islam.” Don’t disagree. “It is as disingenuous to argue that Islamic State is entirely divorced from Islam as it is to assert that it is synonymous with Islam.” Don’t disagree. “Islamic State does indeed have something to do with Islam—not nothing, not everything, but something. That something is the way in which all Islamists justify their arguments using Islamic scripture and seek to recruit from Muslims.” Don’t disagree.

    “In this effort, Muslims who deny that Islamist extremism is a real problem are as counterproductive as Mr. Trump and his populist fear-mongering.” Agreed. I already said that the Muslim community “must forcefully denounce ideologies like ISIS that are promulgated in the name of Islam.”

    “Some will simply assume that the problem is Islam itself and all Muslims per se, which helps to explain the rise of xenophobic politics in both Europe and the U.S.” Right. You seem to embody that assumption.

    BTW, if you are citing this article as some sort of proof that we need to use the term Islamist, I have no problem with that. I already said so.

    Perhaps my wording was clumsy, and you took every opportunity to jump on me with your usual extra helping of belittling comments thrown in, but one of my points was that while ISIS and radical Islamists do not represent Islam itself, the Muslim community–and the West–must eliminate the appeal of joining such radical groups by countering it with alternatives. I already said that. The article you cited seems to say the same thing. You, on the other hand, appear to make the case that Islam is inherently evil. I don’t know where we go with that.

    I could write more in response to your previous posts, but I just don’t feel like spending more time on this. The WSJ article is a good place to end as far as I’m concerned. There is one thing that I would be interested in hearing from you, if you are so inclined, which is, given your belief that Islam is inherently evil, what do you think needs to be done to combat and ultimately eliminate (if that is even possible–I have grave doubts) radical Islamic terrorism.

    • rustybrown2014 says:

      Yes, I thought that article contains some middle ground between us and expresses those ideas rather well. I’m glad you pulled so much from it. I feel it’s important to recognize that Islam itself is in fact a major catalyst in this conflict, and in our dialogue I certainly wasn’t getting the impression you thought that was the case.

      A few final points: I think our disagreement mainly rests on two un-evidenced assertions you made at the outset– First, your contention that ISIS is a perversion or bastardization of Islam (it’s not, it’s a literal interpretation of the scriptures). You said, “(ISIS) is not Islam”. That is incorrect. ISIS is indeed a part of Islam as it’s practiced today.

      Second, in your words, “the problem to me is that a small number of young people are being lured to a poisonous ideology”. That’s just a little bitty pinky tip of the problem. As I’ve shown, it is not a small number we’re talking about, and you downplay the compounded problem of hundreds of millions more who are sympathizing with the Islamic State. It is not racist or xenophobic to worry about what portion of those masses may be radicalized in the future based on their abhorrent opinions and practices.

      “Some will simply assume that the problem is Islam itself and all Muslims per se, which helps to explain the rise of xenophobic politics in both Europe and the U.S.” Right. You seem to embody that assumption.

      I’m not sure what you’re implying here but if it’s that I think the problem is with all Muslims, that’s a disgraceful slander that I’ve never even hinted at and you owe me an apology. If you only mean that I find problem with Islam itself, I’ll cop to that. As I’ve said, Islam is a religion in need of major reformation.

      Finally, I take exception with you characterizing my position as “Islam is inherently evil”. I wouldn’t put it that way. Something about the “evil” part, not my style. I think that Islam is, as Sam Harris puts it, a “motherlode of bad ideas”. I also think the Bible is a motherlode of bad ideas. But Christians went through a long and painful process of reformation which has fairly effectively neutered it’s radical elements. This has been aided by a centralized Catholic authority, the Pope and the Vatican, who can issue edicts and herd it’s billions of followers towards modernity. The Catholic Church, for all of it’s retrograde faults, has been very good about doing this.

      Islam suffers from a lack of central authority. There is no Islamic Pope to steer the ship. That leaves this silly religion (I think all religions are silly) to bounce to and fro among the rocks. It’s ripe for bad men to exploit the underprivileged masses.

      How do we combat this? No easy answers. But a few ideas: We must discuss these issues and state the problem clearly and honestly without fear of censor from the regressive left. We must be free to discuss the problem of Islam without being accused of disparaging all Muslims (I’ve been falsely accused of this at least once in this discussion alone). Islam is in grave need of reformation and it’s up to Muslims to find a way to do this. Based on their actions so far, I’m not encouraged.

      We must be able to discuss concerns about the potential dangers of Muslim immigration to our country. These are legitimate concerns. They should be heard and discussed rationally. For the record, I think Obama’s plan of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees is entirely reasonable, with ongoing oversight for the process.

      As for overseas, I don’t know. My inclination is complete withdrawal and let the snake eat it’s own tail. I’ve always been for staying out of their business. How about the Middle East take care of itself for a while?

      • I’m not sure what you’re implying here but if it’s that I think the problem is with all Muslims, that’s a disgraceful slander that I’ve never even hinted at and you owe me an apology.

        Give it a rest, Rusty.

      • rustybrown2014 says:

        Well, since you’re unwilling to offer any clarification I’ll have to assume the less charitable interpretation and take it you’re saying I’m speaking about all Muslims, even though I’ve explicitly told you I’m not. Stay classy, Watson, and thanks for so thoroughly proving my original point about the actions of the regressive left.

        Give it a rest? Sure, since you can’t be troubled to comment on the topic you brought up or bestirred to answer any questions about it I guess I’ll take five.

      • Rusty, in the quote “Some will simply assume that the problem is Islam itself and all Muslims per se, which helps to explain the rise of xenophobic politics in both Europe and the U.S.,” I was focused on the “Islam itself” phrase. I hesitate to comment at all any more because I’m afraid I’m just not precise enough with the language to keep up with you; everything is picked apart. I’m too glib. But you have said that ISIS “bases it’s agenda on a literalist interpretation of the Quran and Hadiths”. Since those are the holy texts of Islam itself, and since you appear to believe that ISIS’s ideology is based on a literal reading of those texts, I think it’s a fair interpretation to say that you believe that the root of the problem, at least, is Islam itself. You’ve said that it is the motherlode of bad ideas. That’s hardly a glowing endorsement of Islam. And you’ve said that Islam is a religion in need of a major reformation. Again, that would lead me to believe that you believe that the problem is Islam itself. As for the “all Muslims per se” part of the quote, that was not what I was thinking about when I wrote, “You seem to embody that assumption.” No, you haven’t said the problem is with all Muslims. But you have said that hundreds of millions of Muslims sympathize with the Islamic State. True, hundreds of millions of Muslims is not all of the sixteen hundred million Muslims, but it is an extremely large number of Muslims that you believe are part of the problem that is ISIS. Furthermore, if Islam is to be reformed, as you believe is necessary, just who is going to reform it? Non-Muslims?

        Of course you are correct in that a search of your comments over the last two posts will indicate that you did not use the world “evil.” I was too flippant in using it and should have known to spend more time carefully choosing my words. We could probably have a more fruitful, pleasant conversation over beers, where clarity on my part can more easily be achieved by friendly give and take (leaving aside the possibility of getting drunk), but in this context you seem to be in continuous attack mode. I’m sure you’ll take offense at that, too, so just let me apologize in advance for my perception. You complain that I can’t be troubled to comment on a topic I brought up. You actually initiated the discussion of Islamic terrorism in the previous post; I posted about The Atlantic article here because I thought it was of interest in relation to that. But regardless, just how long do I need to keep commenting to satisfy you? It leads me to believe that if I leave any response or any question from you dangling, then you won’t be satisfied. And yet experience shows that you also need to get in the last word. So maybe you need to look elsewhere for classy Internet conversation.

        Anyway, yes, taking five sounds like a good idea.

      • rustybrown2014 says:

        I really don’t feel that I’m “picking things apart” as opposed to defining terms and seeking clarification. I think in discussions like this it’s pretty helpful to strive to understand precisely what the other person is saying and not generalize, but that’s just my opinion. Frankly, I really don’t think you’re reading my posts very carefully as evidenced by the you’re now asking questions about things which I feel I’ve been quite clear about.

        But you have said that ISIS “bases it’s agenda on a literalist interpretation of the Quran and Hadiths”. Since those are the holy texts of Islam itself, and since you appear to believe that ISIS’s ideology is based on a literal reading of those texts, I think it’s a fair interpretation to say that you believe that the root of the problem, at least, is Islam itself. You’ve said that it is the motherlode of bad ideas. That’s hardly a glowing endorsement of Islam. And you’ve said that Islam is a religion in need of a major reformation. Again, that would lead me to believe that you believe that the problem is Islam itself.

        Yes, I have no problem with any of your characterizations here! In fact I’ve gone further, I don’t merely “appear to believe that ISIS’s ideology is based on a literal reading of (the Holy texts)” I’ve provided evidence that this is literally the case. I’ve asked you several times to defend your assertions to the contrary and you refuse, which is fine, but it’s then disingenuous to say the facts I’ve presented are mere beliefs. It’s also important for me to emphasize that just because I indict Islam I do not blame every Muslim. The true moderates who hold enlightened views are admirable and also number in the hundreds of millions.

        But you have said that hundreds of millions of Muslims sympathize with the Islamic State. True, hundreds of millions of Muslims is not all of the sixteen hundred million Muslims, but it is an extremely large number of Muslims that you believe are part of the problem that is ISIS.

        Again, this is not my belief, it appears to be a fact as evidenced by the polls I’ve provided. And again, I don’t mind a challenge to my arguments based on counter evidence and argument, but a blithe dismissal without any rational is bad form in my opinion. Do you see that distinction? Do you think that’s too picky? I really don’t, but again, that’s just the way I roll.

        Here’s a collection of polls that support my point. I’ve said this before but dismissing a source while ignoring the content is very lame indeed, and anybody who does so should be ashamed of their tactics in my opinion. These are mostly highly respected polling organizations and the data should be taken seriously:

        http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/opinion-polls.htm

        I really didn’t take offense over the “evil” characterization, it’s just not the way I would put it, I thought that’s pretty much what I said.

        if Islam is to be reformed, as you believe is necessary, just who is going to reform it? Non-Muslims?

        I’ve already said: “Islam is in grave need of reformation and it’s up to Muslims to find a way to do this.”

        I see no ambiguity there.

        just how long do I need to keep commenting to satisfy you? It leads me to believe that if I leave any response or any question from you dangling, then you won’t be satisfied.

        You can stop anytime as far as I’m concerned. You’ve left a whole heaping’ helpin’ of questions dangling and I was hoping you could explain and substantiate some of your assertions, but if you’re unwilling, unable, or simply bored or offended that’s alright by me.

  6. rustybrown2014 says:

    How about those wacky Black Lives Matter protesters on college campuses, huh?

  7. Well, my football team sucks so I wrote this instead of watching them. You sucked me in again, you bastard. That is actually kind of sad, but there it is.

    Yes, I knew you didn’t “appear to believe,” but I was extra cautious to avoid another demand of apology for slandering you. (How do you even slander an anonymous fake Internet persona?) I do not have the time or inclination to keep up with all of your questions, however this may help clarify some of my thoughts–and it will not rely on a series of questions for you.

    I think the evidence shows that the vast majority of Muslims do not support ISIS. From Pew Research, Nov. 17, 2015: “According to newly released data that the Pew Research Center collected in 11 countries with significant Muslim populations, people from Nigeria to Jordan to Indonesia overwhelmingly expressed negative views of ISIS.” Maybe the percentage that does express some support is still too much for you, but there’s a difference between expressing a “favorable” view of ISIS and joining the fight, much less committing atrocities against civilians.

    “In nations with significant Muslim populations, much disdain for ISIS”

    As for views of violence, from Gallup: “Predominantly Muslim Societies Reject Violence at Least as Much as Other Societies.” In an opinion survey of 130 countries, “Residents of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states are slightly less likely than residents of non-member states to view military attacks on civilians as sometimes justified, and about as likely as those of non-member states to say the same about individual attacks.” They also found, “public acceptance of violence against non-combatants is not linked to religious devotion.” Gallup notes that “Residents in richer countries in general are more likely than those in poorer countries to reject individual attacks on civilians,” and “Poor government accountability, lower transparency, and less freedom are linked to higher public tolerance for individual attacks on civilians, but not military attacks.” These are political issues, not religious ones.

    Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, social scientists and counterterrorism experts have been struggling to understand what provokes someone to deliberately take the lives of innocent people. The religious veneer of al Qaeda’s public posture led many analysts to search for answers in Islam’s teachings. Some analysts have even argued that a wholesale revision of Muslim theology is the only way to defeat violent extremism.

    Empirical evidence paints a different picture. Gallup analysis suggests that one’s religious identity and level of devotion have little to do with one’s views about targeting civilians. According to the largest global study of its kind, covering 131 countries, it is human development and governance – not piety or culture – that are the strongest factors in explaining differences in how the public perceives this type of violence.

    Far more Americans than citizens of any other countries say that military attacks targeting civilians are sometimes justified (given the choice of never justified, sometimes justified, or depends). This does not seem surprising given that America has the strongest military in the world. Additionally, more Americans/Canadians say that individual attacks against civilians are sometimes justified–more than Middle Eastern/North Africans, or any other region for that matter.

    As for Americans themselves, “In sharp contrast with Americans who identify themselves with other faith groups, Muslim Americans are more likely to say military attacks on civilians are never justified (78%) than sometimes justified (21%). Respondents from other faith groups, particularly Mormon Americans, are more likely to say military attacks are sometimes justified than never justified. The opinions of Americans who don’t identify themselves with any religion are more in line with those of Muslim Americans, but they are also more divided.”

    Gallup: “Views of Violence”

    Regarding the “childish tactic” of “disparaging the source while ignoring the content”: I was not impressed by your Islamic passages from the website thereligionofpeace.com for two reasons. First, cherry-picking passages from religious texts is a time-honored way of discrediting a religion. It doesn’t actually demonstrate much understanding of that religion, so in and of itself it is not very impressive or persuasive, in my opinion. There’s the well-worn story of Rabbi Hillel, a contemporary of Jesus. One day he was challenged by a pagan who said, “If you can explain the whole of the Torah while standing on one foot, I’ll convert to Judaism.” The rabbi stood on one foot and said (as I remember first hearing it), “Treat your neighbor as you would have him treat you. That is the whole of the Torah. Now go and study it.” (Wikipedia describes the quote as, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”) The Abrahamic religious texts are full of contradictions and violence, among other things, and the point, aside for the fundamental Golden Rule, is that understanding those texts (and the religion itself) requires more than quoting some verses out of context. I think ISIS demonstrates that point admirably, as do Islamaphobes, ironically.

    The second reason for not being impressed by thereligionofpeace.com is that it is obviously a biased source of information. You see in their list of topics under the “about islam” heading things like “Verses of Violence” or “The Qur’an as Hate Speech.” You do not see any topics regarding love, compassion or charity, as if those don’t exist in Islam or the Islamic texts. For example, as far as I can tell you don’t find any discussions, either pro or con, regarding expressions of the Golden Rule concept in Islamic texts. (It does exists, and if there are such references and discussions at thereligionofpeace.com, they are hard to find.) As far as I can tell, thereligionofpeace.com doesn’t invite Muslims, or even non-Muslim religious scholars, to comment on or rebut what is said at the website. They don’t invite Muslim leaders or clerics to provide their interpretation of things like “NOT A Religion of Peace.”

    Earlier you asked me, “Do you know more about Islam THAN these Muslim leaders?” Of course I wouldn’t claim that I know more than Muslim leaders or clerics. But Glen Roberts, the editor of thereligionofpeace.com, is also not a Muslim cleric. If the qualification for commenting on Islam is that one must be a Muslim “leader” or cleric, then all of the articles interpreting the Islamic texts written by Roberts at his website do not qualify. While I assume that his quotes of Islamic holy texts are accurate translations, especially in the “Verses of Violence” section, they are quoted with commentary from Reynolds and without commentary from actual Muslim thought leaders or clerics, or even religious scholars. (Perhaps Roberts is actually a religious scholar, but that is hard to discern from his writing and he does not list any credentials.)

    You took great exception to my use of the words “perversion” and “bastardization” with respect to the ISIS interpretation, such as it is, of Islam. You derisively wrote, “I’m guessing you’ve never read the Quran, Watson.” No, I have not read the Quran. I don’t even own one. I wonder how many non-Muslim Americans have read it (as opposed to cherry-picked passages). Admittedly, those were offhanded comments of mine, but I don’t think they are wholly inappropriate nor deserving of such scorn as “regressive thinking” or “unenlightened apologetics.”

    If you google “how isis perverts islam” you see article titles such as “ISIS perversion of Islam is a mortal danger to Muslims,” or “Islamic scholar says ISIS perverts Islam.” Or “Muslim Clerics Blast Islamic State: You’re Ignorant of Arabic Language, Sharia Law” As for the word “bastardized,” according to Imam Ani Zonneveld, “It must be clearly stated again that ISIS (or Daesh as many of us Muslims like to call it) has bastardized Islam beyond recognition.” So I don’t think my words are inappropriate nor are they even unique.

    I don’t disagree that ISIS leaders use passages from the Islamic holy texts to justify their barbarous behavior. But their interpretation is rejected as wrong by hundreds of “Muslim leaders and scholars.”

    I don’t accept that simply because ISIS justifies their vile behavior using selected passages from the Islamic texts that it then follows that “Islam itself condones this behavior.” There are violent passages in the Bible as well. There are Christian websites that celebrate, say, abortion clinic murderers with copious quotes from the Bible. The majority of Christians are not going to say that such killing is merely doing what Christianity itself condones, even if the supporters of such behavior believe that. Neither do the vast majority of Muslims, as evidence by the opinion polls cited above. Nicholas Kristof once interviewed the warlord Laurent Nkunda of the Congo. He claims to be a Pentecostal minister and has baptized his soldiers. They all wear “Rebels For Christ” badges, pray to God everyday, then commit henious atrocities. I’m sure the victims of those atrocities have a dim view of Christianity, but the Christian community would not say that the Bible condones such behavior, no matter what verses Laurent Nkunda quotes to his soldiers. I can see how you have a different view, so I don’t think there’s much more to say here.

    As for asking, “South American jihad against America?” I’m not saying that we’re seeing “jihad” emanating from elsewhere in the world, but factors such as poverty, political oppression, government corruption, and a general sense of hopelessness and aggrievement play a significant role here. We disagree about the degree in which such factors contribute to the recruitment of young people to ISIS. Fair enough. I don’t think there is anything more to say.

    From another article that you probably won’t agree with:

    In a recent despatch from Zarqa in Jordan, birthplace of the late AQI leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and “one of the country’s most notorious hotbeds of Islamic radicalism”, Foreign Policy magazine’s David Kenner sat down with a group of young, male Isis supporters.

    “None of them appeared to be particularly religious,” Kenner noted. “Not once did the conversation turn to matters of faith, and none budged from their seats when the call to prayer sounded. They appeared driven by anger at humiliations big and small – from the police officers who treated them like criminals outside their homes to the massacres of Sunnis in Syria and Iraq – rather than by a detailed exegesis of religious texts.”

    It cannot be said often enough: it isn’t the most pious or devout of Muslims who embrace terrorism, or join groups such as Isis. Nor has a raft of studies and surveys uncovered any evidence of a “conveyor belt” that turns people of firm faith into purveyors of violence.

    Religion plays little, if any, role in the radicalisation process, as Sageman and countless experts testify. It is an excuse, rather than a reason. Isis is as much the product of political repression, organised crime and a marriage of convenience with secular, power-hungry Ba’athists as it is the result of a perversion of Islamic beliefs and practices. As for Islamic scholars, they “unanimously repudiate” Isis, to quote Murad, while ordinary Muslims “universally condemn” Baghdadi and his bloodthirsty followers, in the words of Mogahed.

    Also in the article is this quote from Didier François, a French journalist who was held by Isis in Syria for ten months before being released in April 2014:

    “There was never really discussion about texts,” the French journalist told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last month, referring to his captors. “It was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion.”

    And of course, there are current or recent examples of terrorism other than radical Islamist terrorism: The Protestant-Catholic conflict that went on for decades in Northern Ireland; the terror campaign being conducted by the drug cartels of Mexico that has included killing tens of thousands people, kidnappings, beheadings, and political assassinations; the ongoing terror campaign against abortion clinics carried out by so-called Christians; narcoterrorism in Columbia and other South American countries that was responsible for a prolonged terror and assassination campaign against public officials; the “Christian” Congo warlord cited above. I’m obviously not saying that radical Islamic terrorism isn’t the most pressing concern for the United States—it is—but organized violence is not the sole province of Muslim countries. We won’t even get into the civilian toll of violence conducted by militaries.

    The reason I brought up the video in which people believed they were hearing quotes from the Quran instead of the Bible was not to point out that both books “contain vile prescriptions” (as you assumed), but that it shows how easily people make assumptions about one religion versus another when they don’t know much of anything about them.

    I have said that radical Islamic terrorism is a problem that the worldwide Muslim community must confront, if for no other reasons than it is killing more Muslims than anyone else, it is being done in the name of their religion, and it is taking their children into what some term a “cult of death.” I don’t know what else to say about that.

    Finally, I find it ironic that I am in the position of being a religious apologist since I am not even a religious person. But there you have it. I will say that there has been war throughout the history of mankind, many times in the name of religion. I think, however, that even the wars in the name of religion are generally of a political nature–issues of power, greed, dominance, subjugation. Religion, it seems to me, is man’s attempt to find a higher purpose than power, greed, dominance and subjugation. It may fail miserably in many cases, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.

    • rustybrown2014 says:

      God cannot help you now…

      We can play the polling game back and forth. Depending on scope, methodology and other factors it won’t be too hard to find a few that appear to align with your ideology. The Gallup poll you cite seems to offer some encouraging results and very generally bolsters your argument, but it’s one poll, and while I think the results favor your point of view (which, at this point I’m loosely characterizing as: “There is no particular problem with Muslims or the religion of Islam as a whole that we need to be especially concerned about”–am I wrong in this characterization? Please correct me if I am) I think the generic nature of the Gallup questions may be partly responsible for the seemingly encouraging results. It’s kind of like the disparity I’m sure you’ve heard of when you ask Americans (I’m paraphrasing) “are you for an increase in your taxes?” as opposed to “are you for an increase in your taxes to keep Medicare solvent for the next decade?” The percent in favor greatly increases with the second question. The results vary widely between the two questions and I believe the second, specific question is more accurate in it’s probing than the general question.

      So, lets focus on the Pew poll you present which has the advantage of being much more recent and also happens to be a poll I’ve cited here in support of my arguments. I guess you could say this is a poll we both agree upon:

      http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/17/in-nations-with-significant-muslim-populations-much-disdain-for-isis/

      Frankly, I think the title Pew chooses for this poll buries the lede. While there is “much” disdain for ISIS in Muslim populations and “people from Nigeria to Jordan to Indonesia overwhelmingly expressed negative views of ISIS”, that is in fact completely beside the point I’m making: A disconcertingly and unacceptably large minority of Muslims are sympathizing with not only ISIS, but with a panoply of horrid seventh-century views which should be repugnant to any civilized person living in the 21st century, and this seems to be largely the result of their literalist interpretation of their religion. Please bookmark that statement of mine; that is what I’m arguing. Note the “disconcerting” and “unacceptable” parts, and go bananas emphasizing “minority”, but please recognize this minority is in the tens of millions, on the low end.

      So, how does this poll you cite support my thesis? As David French says:

      “The latest polling data show that while a majority of Muslims reject ISIS, extrapolating from the populations of polled countries alone shows that roughly 50 million people express sympathy for a terrorist army that burns prisoners alive, throws gay men from buildings, and beheads political opponents. In Pakistan a horrifying 72 percent couldn’t bring themselves to express an unfavorable view of ISIS”

      Alright. 72% of polled Pakistanis can’t bring themselves to condemn a group known for crucifying children. Keep in mind the actions of ISIS are not a mystery to the Middle East; the atrocities are widely broadcast. The rest of the poll results number in the tens if not hundreds of millions either showing outright support for these religious lunatics, or faced with the direct question, can’t bring themselves to condemn this group. This is a poll you offered. I am not OK with its data. I find it strange that you are.

      You say, “I think the evidence shows that the vast majority of Muslims do not support ISIS”. I agree. Always have. That is simply not the issue, and if I ever gave the impression to the contrary, I didn’t mean to (I would, however, be interested in seeing how somebody could pull that misapprehension from my words, like, if you could quote me saying anything like that or something).

      I’ll close this with another recent Pew poll which I believe I’ve already cited, and which leans depressingly towards the specific. Global research from 2013. Here’s a handy one page summary:

      http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-exec/

      Here’s the full pole:

      http://www.pewforum.org/files/2013/04/worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-full-report.pdf

      The results support my thesis that there is a SIZABLE minority within the Muslim community in favor of suicide bombings in justification of Islam (8% overall), Sharia law becoming law of the land (actually a big majority there), stoning for apostates and adulterers (strong majority among the majority who favors Sharia). The outlook for women and homosexuals is even more bleak: solid majorities condemning homosexuality as morally wrong and wives must ALWAYS obey her husband.

      I’m tired. Just scratching’ the surface here Watson, I’ll have more tomorrow if you can stand it. Let me say for the record that I think we have more common ground than meets the eye. I think you’re a very intelligent and thoughtful guy and you often make me reconsider my views, which is something I appreciate (even though I come around to realizing my views were right in the first place, I still appreciate it. Ha!).

    • rustybrown2014 says:

      Watson@12/13, 7:34,

      So let me get this straight: You have not read the Islamic holy books yet you insist that ISIS is distorting them. When pointed to many ISIS-like passages in said holy books you complain the passages are taken out of context even though you are unable to explain how. So I’m afraid, Watson, you quite literally don’t know what you’re talking about here, and you are in fact the one guilty of cherry picking–trusting sources on Quranic interpretation which mirror your prejudice while dismissing ones that don’t–all from ignorance of the actual texts.

      Complaining that a quote’s been distorted because it was taken out of context without offering or even seeming to be aware of any inculpatory context is almost as bad as dismissing content because of its source alone.

      I’ve read the Quran. I can assure you those passages are not anomalies. Converting, subjugating and/or killing infidels is pretty much the major theme of the book.

      Speaking of sources, It is no question that thereligionofpeace.com is a biased source. I don’t particularly like that website nor subscribe to it’s views. In order to collect data to support opinions which run contrary to PC dogma one often has to find them in right wing or even extremist venues (that’s actually my initial point of this conversation: If the left is unwilling to address certain uncomfortable realities they will cede the discussion to unsavory fanatics, like religionofpeace.com and Trump).

      Glen Roberts doesn’t have to be a religious scholar to assemble a list of passages, and dismissing the quotes because of the gatherer is simply wrong, an error in logic. Look, if a grade school science teacher is exposed as a child-molesting psychopath, that doesn’t invalidate his lessons on a heliocentric universe.

      There are violent passages in the Bible as well. There are Christian websites that celebrate, say, abortion clinic murderers with copious quotes from the Bible. The majority of Christians are not going to say that such killing is merely doing what Christianity itself condones, even if the supporters of such behavior believe that.

      First of all, there is currently no widespread global problem of Christians acting out on literalist interpretations of the Bible backed by millions of sympathizers, so your point is moot. If you mean this as a hypothetical, I assure you my opinions would be just as harsh on said Christians and Christianity if the problem were as widespread as the problem of radical Islam today. The fact of the matter is, you can use the Bible to condone all sorts of horrible behavior and when this happens I’m just as critical of Christians; but again, this is just not a global concern these days largely because of the centuries of Catholic reformation and enlightenment. As for your case in the Congo, I’m unfamiliar but I highly suspect those atrocities are being carried out by actual bastardizations of the Bible, that is, demonstrably false claims on the source text (the Bible contains no compulsion to kill infidels for example)–this has been done many times before.

      I’m not saying that we’re seeing “jihad” emanating from elsewhere in the world, but factors such as poverty, political oppression, government corruption, and a general sense of hopelessness and aggrievement play a significant role here. We disagree about the degree in which such factors contribute to the recruitment of young people to ISIS. Fair enough. I don’t think there is anything more to say.

      But there is more to say. For example, you can start by explaining since “factors such as poverty, political oppression, government corruption, and a general sense of hopelessness and aggrievement” are ubiquitous around the world for many different nationalities and religions, why it is that Muslims are the main practitioners of modern terrorism? Where are the Christian suicide bombers? What is explains this difference? Please spare me the isolated cases of non-Islamic terrorism. The Irish conflict is pretty anomalous in the scheme of things and actually had much more to do with the other political factors that you’ve brought up, not to mention the atrocities committed were NOT endorsed by the Bible, I don’t think most of the antagonists were even claiming they were. That’s not to say religion had nothing to do with The Troubles, clearly it did, but it must also be noted that this is mostly ancient history and they’ve largely WORKED THINGS OUT. Perhaps the more moderate nature of their religions greased the peace process.

      As for your other examples, really? Drug cartels? Military violence? Really? Why not throw in Serial killers? (These are rhetorical questions) Noted: other bad things happen in the world. This we can agree on.

      I have said that radical Islamic terrorism is a problem that the worldwide Muslim community must confront, if for no other reasons than it is killing more Muslims than anyone else, it is being done in the name of their religion, and it is taking their children into what some term a “cult of death.” I don’t know what else to say about that.

      I think that’s a pretty good start.

      Religion, it seems to me, is man’s attempt to find a higher purpose than power, greed, dominance and subjugation. It may fail miserably in many cases, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.

      I don’t want to quibble (ha), but if you mean organized religion, I strongly disagree. Organized religion is the epitome of power, greed, dominance and subjugation on a hierarchical scale–religions are not equal, some are worse than others–the Amish and the Jains don’t seem to bother us too much, while I bet you can guess which one I think is the worst. When it comes to organized religion, we most certainly shouldn’t try. But maybe that’s not what you meant.

  8. All the questions from Rusty, answered.

    Do you think an ideology that promotes a belief in eternal glory, honor and 72 virgins in the afterlife for committing such actions might be an attraction?

    Already addressed, but, in my opinion, that is a ridiculously simplistic view of Islam that is pretty much not worthy of comment. However, in the ISIS perversion of Islam, I am sure that this is an attraction to some adherents.

    Why is it a bastardization to take these holy texts seriously?

    Already answered and addressed more than once.

    But nothing to worry about, right?

    A derisive, simplistic, belittling response to my comments. Not really worthy of a response, but I am addressing all of your questions. My response: There is plenty to worry about.

    Just a few disillusioned kids, is it?

    Another condescending question. My response: No, not just a few disillusioned kids.

    Really? You think the Sunni/Shia conflict is primarily political (whatever that means) and not religious? That’s a new one on me.

    Although most people would read a lot of snark in the above, I’ll assume that you offered this line of questioning and the quips in the spirit “defining terms and seeking clarification.” I mean political in a broad sense. In the sense that uprising against long-time dictatorships or the toppling of governments. Of course I understand that Sunni and Shia are two major denominations of Islam. Following the American toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraq erupted in what most Americans would call a civil war. Of course it is sectarian in nature, but it is largely political as well, because the government the Americans put in place of Hussein turned out to be corrupt. The Sunnis dominated Iraqi politics for years, until the toppling of Hussein. The Shias, which were the majority population in Iraq, were subjugated by the Hussein’s regime. When Hussein was toppled, the Sunnis were no longer in control. Religious justification played a role in what were political uprisings, but the usual motivations for war apply. Syria is also in the midst of what can be called a civil war.

    Pray tell, what are these “political” pressures that have been vexing these rival sects for centuries?

    You don’t have to go back centuries. All you have to do is look at the recent history of countries like Iraq and Syria, look at who held power and how it was wielded.

    Do you think that radical Islam is largely responsible for the worldwide terrorist acts we’re seeing?

    Already answered once. The ones we are talking about, yes. I do not have the inclination to do a tally, but with respect to terrorism in America since 9/11, I’m not sure that radical Islam is more responsible for such terrorism than the other forms of terrorism. But our discussion has centered on radical Islamic terrorism and the threat that it poses.

    Do you feel that Islam is in need of reformation?

    Already answered once: I already said, “I absolutely do believe that the Muslim community at large needs to forcefully denounce ideologies like ISIS that are promulgated in the name of Islam.” I wouldn’t call that a reformation, but Muslims worldwide must own up to the fact that their religion is being hijacked in the name of a terrible ideology, and Muslims worldwide need to confront this.

    But to take another stab it (since I think I know what you mean now), it is actually a hard question for me to answer. First off, I do not feel that I have the knowledge of Islam to really answer that question. I could fall back on your implication that I don’t know more about Islam than Muslim leaders, and am therefore unqualified to really address this question. It is certainly true that not all Muslim leaders think that Islam is in need of reformation. That said, as a Westerner who was raised in the Judeo-Christian traditional, I naturally would like the entire rest of the world to share those values. I think the main problem in some of these countries is lack of education, poverty, and political domination and subjugation. Many white Americans think black Americans are culturally inferior and do not share “our” values, and this explains why there is more violence in black communities—as opposed to other factors such as poverty and lack of education and so on. So I would say that it is common, as an outsider, to proclaim that another society or subculture is in need of “reform.”

    According to an article dated November 15, the United States has dropped 8,000 airstrikes and dropped about 28,000 bombs on ISIS sites in Iraq and Syria. In other words, we’ve been launching about 17 airstrikes and dropping 60 bombs per day. Every day. For over a year. That would be like 28,000 bombings in 2015 in an area of the combined states of the northeastern United States. Do you think that is conducive to any kind of reform? My point is not to blame the United States for waging a war against ISIS, but that until warfare subsides, you’re not going to get anywhere with any kind of civil, political or even religious reforms.

    Given that ISIS bases it’s agenda on a literalist interpretation of the Quran and Hadiths, why aren’t they Islamic, or at least radical Islamists?

    Already addressed.

    Polls show that hundreds of millions of Muslims harbor severe anti-semitism, favor death for apostasy, blasphemy and homosexuality, support suicide bombings, favor Sharia law over secular law, practice rampant and horrific sexism, and can’t bring themselves to condemn ISIS. Do you think these views have nothing to do with Islam?

    Already answered, “Of course those views have to do with Islam. But they also have to do with the political circumstances in which people live.”

    I haven’t researched the polls in these matters—and I have already shown that Muslims overwhelmingly reject ISIS, so I’m suspicious about your claims—but I’ll just assume you are correct. They do have something to do with Islam.

    Do think these views are problematic?

    Of course. I find many views based on religious beliefs to be problematic.

    Do you think these views have a place in Western societies?

    No. I would love to have a Western society free of all kinds of bigotry, prejudice, warfare, persecution, and on and on. We certainly don’t find that even in the United States, and certainly in the recent history of the United States. The Muslim community living in the United States far and away lives side by side the rest of us. Suicide bombings are evil, but then, so are 28,000 bombings in one year by the military. The reason polls show that Americans support violence by the military (much more so that other countries) is that violence conducted by the military has a moral imprimatur, if you will, among many Americans. Using the military is morally acceptable, whereas someone else resorting to suicide bombs (because they don’t have a military) is not. Again, I am not saying that the United States should not take on ISIS—it has to—but that matters such as this sometimes depend on perspective.

    Answer the question Watson: How are the actions of ISIS incompatible with these words (referring to http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/quran/023-violence.htm?

    I haven’t read all of that page. I think I have already said that ISIS selectively uses passages from the Quran and other texts to justify their actions. It must be condemned. I don’t think this has any more merit than if some group were to select similarly violent passages from Bible and claim Christian justification for barbaric acts.

    So what? (In reference to my bringing up the video in which people are read quotes from the Bible, thinking they’re reading from the Quran.)

    Already addressed.

    You’re really going to lean on “yeah but the Bible has bad things in it too” canard?

    Already addressed.

    How about those wacky Black Lives Matter protesters on college campuses, huh?

    If you have a comment about wacky Black Lives Matter protesters on college campuses, then feel free to make it.

    I think that’s all of your questions. Personally, I think you are more than smart enough to have stated your case convincingly without resorting to the tactic of demanding answer to your questions. That style–demanding that others answer questions, and then mocking them when they don’t do an adequate enough or timely enough job–is exactly the way most of the folks at our favorite website operate, with the exception of Mark Noonan, who is capable of making his points entirely with his own writing. I mean, give those folks a “Best argument on the Internet for the day of _____” certificate. I’m sure they will display it proudly in their home and their family members will revel in the honor.

    • rustybrown2014 says:

      I’ll answer the rest of your tome in a bit, but I have to quickly comment on your take of the “question and answer” part of our exchange. First of all, many of the questions you now label “already addressed” were in fact not addressed until your very last post which I have yet to respond to, so I really don’t see why you’re listing them again, other than to make it seem like you’ve answered the same question multiple times. You hadn’t. Regardless:

      Personally, I think you are more than smart enough to have stated your case convincingly without resorting to the tactic of demanding answer to your questions. That style–demanding that others answer questions, and then mocking them when they don’t do an adequate enough or timely enough job–is exactly the way most of the folks at our favorite website operate

      Give me a break. The fact of the matter is that I had made all of those points in the context of our conversation and you completely ignored the arguments. That’s why I felt compelled to state some of them as direct questions, at 12/10, 5:34 when I explicitly said : “Since you’ve ignored the majority of my arguments outlining the religious underpinnings for jihad, let me pose a few as direct questions”

      You’re right, I am smart enough to plainly state my case convincingly. But when you weren’t responding to what I think were important points to the discussion, I felt compelled simplify it for you and pose a few direct questions.

      • First of all, many of the questions you now label “already addressed” were in fact not addressed until your very last post which I have yet to respond to, so I really don’t see why you’re listing them again.

        The questions that I said were previously addressed were previously addressed in comments in this thread or the previous thread, including my long post of yesterday. I wasn’t making a distinction otherwise. This morning I listed all of the questions that you have asked (I don’t think I missed any) so that you could no longer claim that I have not answer your questions, because that is a bit tiresome.

        But when you weren’t responding to what I think were important points to the discussion, I felt compelled simplify it for you and pose a few direct questions.

        Fair enough. But when the questions are loaded with condescending, snarky attitude, I’m less inclined to remain engaged, not more. I actually have a life outside of this nonsense!

      • rustybrown2014 says:

        Christ Watson, You sure like to wallow in the weeds. Can you not make any distinction between rhetorical questions and those that should be seriously considered and answered? Apparently not. Here’s a primer for you:

        List of my satirical/rhetorical questions which may contain a bit of dreaded snark but which I feel were nonetheless appropriate in context of the conversation and meant to further the dialog:

        “But nothing to worry about, right?”

        “Just a few disillusioned kids, is it?” (this was making a larger point in response to your preceding statement, ” the problem to me is that a small number of young people are being lured to a poisonous ideology. That ideology is not Islam, but a bastardized version of it, as is usually the case with cults.”

        “So what?”

        “You’re really going to lean on “yeah but the Bible has bad things in it too” canard?”

        “How about those wacky Black Lives Matter protesters on college campuses, huh?” (a perhaps lame bit of humor suggesting another topic which might be contentious between us)

        The rest were questions posed seriously for a response, and I clearly said so at the time. Why is that so offensive to you (Note: this is a rhetorical question)? As I’ve stated, those were questions I felt necessary to ask since you were ignoring the points when I brought them up conversationally, and they were very light on condescension and snark.

        I could write more about this, but Jesus, what’s the point? I have a very rich life outside of this as well and while I’m here I’d much rather get to the substance of the conversation.

      • Haha. I said “all the questions.” Every question mark.

        I’m sooooo, so done with this topic. lol

      • This just in: SABR announces new book, The Team That Time Won’t Forget, which tells the story of every player on the 1951 New York Giants.

        I just want to be clear that I didn’t write it.

  9. rustybrown2014 says:

    Har. I think we’re chocking on our own snark. I’M not done with this topic! Get back to you shortly…

    • rustybrown2014 says:

      *ahem*, choking

    • I’M not done with this topic! Get back to you shortly…

      Help me, God. 🙂 (Oh, dammit, I already said I’m not religious. Idiot.) I’m saying the odds are about zero that anything I have said has changed your mind. But I look forward to being taken to task.

      BTW, did you know that Rick Santorum, Lindsay Graham, George Pataki, and Mike Huckabee are running for president? The only way I know this is that CNN is touting them in tomorrow’s kiddie debate. Apparently they are also so anal retentive that they can’t tell the difference between rhetorical candidates and serious ones.

  10. (Moving this to the bottom of the the thread so that we don’t have to fight with WordPress.)

    God cannot help you now…

    Don’t be too hasty there, Rusty. God found me a great parking spot this morning when I really needed it. Praise the Lord!

    I agree that we can play the polling game back and forth. The polls I cited were among the first, if not the first ones that popped up when I googled things like “do muslims support isis” or “poll do muslims believe violence is condoned by islam” or something like that. I don’t actually remember. In any event, I felt that Pew Research and Gallup were reputable, so I focused on those. I did glance at thereligionofpeace.com’s page of polls, but since I don’t trust that website to present unbiased information, I declined to rely on its links.

    Of my point of view, you said, “I’m loosely characterizing as: ‘There is no particular problem with Muslims or the religion of Islam as a whole that we need to be especially concerned about’–am I wrong in this characterization? Please correct me if I am.”

    I wouldn’t characterize it that way. Trying to think of an accurate way to characterize my point of view in one sentence. I guess it would be that I do not accept reductionist thinking when it comes to radical Islamic terrorism, in which the problem is reduced to being Islam itself. The problem is much more complex, and if I start to perceive such reductionist thinking, I push back–perhaps too much so, but there you have it. For the record, I do understand and accept that you recognize that the root causes of terrorism are more complex than merely blaming it on an interpretation of Islam, but I can’t say that is true for a lot of Americans. There are other readers of this blog—not a lot, but they’re there—so maybe hearing some different viewpoints and data may be of some consideration.

    But I mean, it’s not like a bunch of Muslim clerics were sitting around one day and said, “You know, those violent passages in the Quran aren’t being taken seriously anymore. Let’s start an Muslim organization that puts those words into action.” ISIS is an outgrowth of Al Qaeda Iraq, which essentially came into being in the aftermath of the Iraq war and the toppling of the Saddam Hussein government. The Hussein government subjugated the Shites and the Kurds, and then those clever Americans put into power another corrupt government in its place, which turned the tables. AQI was a reaction to that, and ISIS grew out of it. That’s an example of what I mean when I say political issues play a large role here.

    For better or worse, I tend to see issues like this as having a lot of complexity and nuance. I think a flaw in a lot of conservative arguments is that they simplify complex problems in order to make them black and white. I mean, look at Amazona. To her, the Constitution is a black and white document that, per the Tenth Amendment, does not permit the federal government to do anything other than the most explicit of things. Her view is so simplistic that she practically denies the existence of the so-called “elastic clauses,’ or goes to great effort to rationalize them away. (On the other hand, she is perfectly fine with all other branches of government doing whatever they want, including using taxpayer money to pay for the upkeep of billionaires’ private property. She is to a political philosopher what a building inspector is to an architect. But I digress.)

    Secondarily, our views of “others” is heavily colored by our own parochial perspective, making it easy to demonize Islam in ways in which we wouldn’t accept otherwise. I basically believe that all major religions fundamentally promote a message of love and compassion, or they wouldn’t have so many adherents. Human beings have the same emotionally needs around the world. I could be wrong, but you’ll have to beat me over the head with the evidence to convince me otherwise, and I have a hard head. 🙂

    Third, my original point which lead to this long exchange had to do with recruitment, and my observation that the lure of ISIS to many recruits seems reminiscent of the attraction of cults, or even gangs. A common denominator is that when young people live in a situation that seems without much hope or prospects, then they are much easier targets for this type of thing. (The ISIS operatives that really worry me are the ones that are well-educated and come from well-off families financially and socially. Maybe these guys are just psychopaths, but they are the most concerning of all if you ask me.)

    Alright. 72% of polled Pakistanis can’t bring themselves to condemn a group known for crucifying children.

    That’s one way to put it, I guess. But the fact is, only 9% of Pakistanis indicated they have a “favorable” view if ISIS. Same poll, same results. And as I indicated above, expressing a “favorable” view is not the same as actually supporting and joining the organization, must less conducting terrorism in its name. Of course It’s troubling that there is any support for ISIS, but if we’re going to look at polls…

    Why is it that 58% of American Protestants, 58% of Catholics, 52% of Jews, and 64% of Mormons believe it is okay for the military to kill civilians? (These are all higher percentages than American Muslims and atheists/agnostics.) Why is it that 26% of American Protestants, 27% of Catholics, 22% of Jews, and 19% of Mormons believe is is okay for “an individual person or a small group of persons” to kill civilians? What kind of small groups are these, anyway? What civilians?? You know, someone on the other side of the world might say, “Your Christian holy books are filled with violence, your polls show that you condone violence against innocent civilians, and your soldiers are doing exactly that in my country right now. So much for your Judea-Christian values.” Supposedly, all those that Christians and Jews who support killing innocent civilians also believe that the ten commandments are literally the word of God, from God’s lips to Moses’ tablet. One of those commandments is, “Thou shall not kill.” So much for seeing things in black and white when it isn’t convenient for them. Anyway, my point is that perhaps some of this depends on which end of the lens you are looking through.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/148763/muslim-americans-no-justification-violence.aspx

    I really cannot imagine what it must be like to live in an area the size of California, or the eastern seaboard, which experiences 60 bombings a day, every day, for over a year, as the US military is doing in Iraq and Syria. I mean, there is just nothing in my experience to relate to that. But I would imagine that experiencing something like that takes a pretty heavy emotional and mental toll. Again, I’m not saying that our military campaign and terrorism are morally equivalent, but I’ve got to think that such an experience heavily affects one’s perspective. They might even not like Americans!

    Regarding anti-semitesm, I think it is also worth pointing out that anti-semetism isn’t the sole province of Muslims. It wasn’t that long ago that Nazi Germany—a country that was almost entirely Christian—undertook a sustained campaign to exterminate six million Jews. This happened a long time after Christianity was reformed and by definition had to involve lots and lots of Christians because in 1939 the population of Germany was 94% Christian. Now, even if the Nazis had used Biblical passages to support what they were doing, I don’t think anyone would seriously claim that they were representing Christianity in any conceivable way. Yet, many American automatically assume that ISIS is an authentic representation of Islam.

    As for “solid majorities condemning homosexuality as morally wrong and wives must ALWAYS obey her husband,” I agree that the Arab/Muslim world has a LONG way to go. Ironically, I have a lot of evangelical Christian relatives (I’m the black sheep), and they most certainly do believe that wives must always obey their husbands. 🙂

    Let me say for the record that I think we have more common ground than meets the eye.

    Oh, I agree. I think it probably mostly boils down to a matter of degree.

    I think you’re a very intelligent and thoughtful guy and you often make me reconsider my views, which is something I appreciate (even though I come around to realizing my views were right in the first place, I still appreciate it. Ha!).

    Well, if we’re confessing here, I admit that you usually make me reconsider my point of view. I do marvel at how the hell you can be so sure of everything. I’m not even sure I know how to be an adult half the time. But the first rule of Internet discussion forums is that no one’s mind ever changes about anything!

    Finally, I leave you with this interesting piece at Vox: “33 maps that explain terrorism”

    (Also, I see that you have added more comments. I’ll try to get to those later.)

  11. This is quick because I’m out the door…

    You have not read the Islamic holy books yet you insist that ISIS is distorting them.

    Many people more learned about Islam than you or me claim that.

    I’ve read the Quran. I can assure you those passages are not anomalies.

    Then I have much respect. And hadiths, too? Okay, you impressed me. In any event, if the price of admission is having read the Quran, then I am happy to take my ball and go home. Even if I were to read the Quran, I would also be reading companion texts to help me understand it. But which one? There are so many. In any event, you know as well as I that there is no universal interpretation of the Quran, nor is the even a universal translation into English of the Quran. And there are myriad books telling me how to understand it all. Karen Armstrong doesn’t have the same view as, say, Robert Spencer. The difference between me and Glen Roberts is that I do not have a website claiming to be an authoritative source of information about Islam. You are correct in suggesting that his website is a handy dandy, convenient and quick, one-stop shop for your arguments, as well as for Islamaphobic arguments in general. (I’m not accusing of Islamaphobia, just pointing out that many people use it in that way.)

    Perhaps there is evidence that the majority of Muslim theologians would agree that suicide bombers will be greeted in heaven by 72 virgins. That is at the very least disputable by theologians.

    My somewhat hardened position about this is heavily influenced by my own interaction with the Muslim employee group at work, and one particular individual that I worked with. They actually gave presentations during “diversity weeks” and did Q&A. (I don’t work any longer.) I suppose I got the “regressive liberal view” since we’re talking about a bunch of well-educated people, so I may have been exposed to just a sliver of the truth. Maybe it was sanitized for this audience. I don’t remember the specifics; I can’t go on offhandly about the five pillars of faith, the meaning of infidel, and all. But I do remember the overall takeaway.

    First of all, there is currently no widespread global problem of Christians acting out on literalist interpretations of the Bible backed by millions of sympathizers, so your point is moot.

    Correct. The point is that in my view, when Christians do act out, most of us wouldn’t blame it on Christianity. It’s easier to blame Islam because most Americans know nothing about it. There is a large component of what I term political factors in the Middle East. There is obviously the Islamic aspect as well. I am not denying that. I get the impression that you think that ISIS is essentially carrying out what the Quran says and endorses. There are many more learned people about this subject who disagree. (And of course there are others than completely agree with you.) I’m just repeating myself.

    As for other forms of terrorism, I included the Mexican drug wars because they have several of the hallmarks of terrorism, such as murder, public executions, kidnapping, torture, beheadings, dismembering, political assassinations. Some Congressman have suggested that they be formally labeled terrorist groups, but of course that is politically loaded. According to wikipedia, estimates set the death toll of the Mexican drug wars above 120,000 killed by 2013, not including 27,000 missing. That’s not a small number and the techniques are the as used by traditional terrorist organizations. In contrast, Boko Haram has killed an estimated 20,000 people per wiki. The link I previously provided from Vox has a more thorough, easily digestible overview of terrorism in the world. I did not provide the link as evidence for any of my positions (or to refute any of yours), just in the spirit of discussion. It hit my Twitter feed today and I found it interesting.

    I don’t want to quibble (ha), but if you mean organized religion, I strongly disagree.

    I was mainly thinking of mankind’s need to find a spiritual purpose, let’s say. I think that’a a pretty universal thing.

    Rusty, we could continue to go in circles, but why? I haven’t read the Quran. That’s a disqualified for you, so I think we’re done. Perhaps a continuation of discussion, if there is one, should focus on what could be done to address radical Islamic terrorism. I know you offered some thoughts, but I haven’t really read them yet.

    The wife just said she thinks we should wear matching Santa hats. I think I need to go now.

    • rustybrown2014 says:

      Sorry for the long post, this is responding to two of yours.

      Your wife is right. I’m beginning to think we should both be institutionalized at a place where we can passive-aggressively berate each other all day long as a type of immersion therapy. After time, maybe we could rejoin the normal world.

      In any event, I’m seeing a lot more common ground between us. When I allow myself to dismount from my high horse for a moment I’m free to admit that I share your views on our interventionism in the Middle East and it’s consequences; I always have, it’s just not what I’m arguing here at the moment. I think the extent of of our bombing campaigns that you mention are horrendous, but let’s not forget the motivations behind them. I believe we’re into a sick “chicken-or-the-egg” cycle here, but we’re currently bombing specifically to disrupt a horrible group of bad actors who not only pose a serious threat to us and all of Western civilization but are brutalizing their own populations. Yes, I admit ISIS exists partly as a result of our meddling, but still–chicken or egg–the bombs we’re dropping now are aimed at promoting stability.

      I’m not sure bombing is the answer, but there are no easy answers to this conflict. Actually, I’m strongly non-interventialist by nature and my instinct is to completely pull out and make those intentions publicly known far and wide. But I’m afraid this would result in a worse humanitarian disaster. You could pretty much kiss Israel goodbye and they’ll probably start a nuclear war on their way out. Left unchecked, ISIS would likely grow and terrorize millions more throughout the region. If the larger Middle East then becomes similarly radicalized we’ll be staring down the barrel at a full global religious war between East and West, which is the ultimate goal of ISIS. So, are these desirable outcomes? Is it morally justified to allow this to happen just so we can say, “our hands are NOW clean, we are not intervening”?

      So, I agree with you that our policies in the Middle East have been a significant factor in the rise of modern terror, I never claimed otherwise but glad to emphasize that here. Btw, after doing some reading I also concede that the Sunni/Shia conflict is far more political than I originally thought, although, let’s face it, religion still plays a pretty big part. Next, I admit the 72 virgins thing is a loose interpretation of scripture. That specific claim is an actual example where it could be argued it’s a bastardization of the texts–BUT, the wider concept of MARTYRDOM is repeatedly supported by the holy books so really this comes down to splitting semantical hair splitting.

      As for drug cartels, no doubt some of their behavior can be defined as terrorism. But we clearly know what motivates them: money. It’s an entirely different dynamic from the terrorism we’re talking about, one that’s mostly driven by religious fanatics in my opinion.

      I think there are two main difference between us: How much of a role religion plays in this conflict and a disagreement between us about the role of interpreting and implementing religious texts.

      Second one first: you highlight the point that there are many religious scholars who state ISIS is a distortion of the Quran and Hadiths (many of these scholars conveniently ignore the Hadiths in order to make their point about the Quran; the Hadiths are even more bloody). For one thing, this is unsurprising. You can find apologists for all religions and their methods vary with the degree of slipperiness they employ. But also Watson, It’s actually those apologist clerics you mention that I am most in favor of. They’re the ones who are preaching the type of reformation I’m advocating–twisting the holy texts into a peaceful pablum. I’m all for these brave reformers who speak out against ISIS and strive to interpret the Quran as a guidebook to peace and enlightenment. The problem as I see it is there actually aren’t enough of these vocal scholars and their influence isn’t strong enough. The problem is that there is a disturbingly large number of Muslims who interpret the Quran as a call to violence.

      I haven’t pored over the Gallup poll you provided but it looks encouraging. As I’ve mentioned before though, some of the questions seem frustratingly vague and general. The questions you raise (“What kind of small groups are these, anyway? What civilians??”) are important. After all, bin Laden was a civilian. But you run off the rails here:

      You know, someone on the other side of the world might say, “Your Christian holy books are filled with violence, your polls show that you condone violence against innocent civilians, and your soldiers are doing exactly that in my country right now. So much for your Judea-Christian values.”

      For one thing, “INNOCENT civilians”? Where does the poll say that? This is the vagary of the poll I’m talking about. Secondly, I must have missed the parts where a) it’s shown our soldiers are specifically targeting civilian populations. b) our military is operating under religious instruction toward religious ends. These motivations make a difference. Lets not confuse apples for oranges.

      Supposedly, all those that Christians and Jews who support killing innocent civilians also believe that the ten commandments are literally the word of God, from God’s lips to Moses’ tablet. One of those commandments is, “Thou shall not kill.”

      That’s a mighty big supposition on your part. This brings up the reformation I’m always yammering about. You see, the reformations and counter reformations of Judo-Christian faiths are what allow practitioners to relax their own rules, so to speak. The fact of the matter is that the ten commandments are WIDELY ignored even by many who are otherwise devout. Do you know any religious people who’ve been known to work on Sunday or shout “Jesus!” when they hit their thumb with a hammer? Don’t even get me started on coveting your neighbor’s wife. The point is, this is the type of relaxing of the rules that’s needed for Islam.

      As for the role Islam plays in our current terrorist woes, I think it’s the major motivation for the Islamic State and the tens of millions of its supporters in the Muslim community. I’m surprised you’re still heartened by the Pew poll that shows 72% of Pakistanis won’t condemn ISIS. You say ONLY 9% have a favorable view of ISIS. Only 9%? That’s a very large minority for such an extremist view in my opinion. If 72% of Americans didn’t know whether they had a favorable opinion of the KKK or not while 9% polled favorable, I’d think we’d have a big problem on our hands. I’m led to believe you’d be unconcerned.

      The fact is, we only need open our ears to understand what motivates Islamic extremists; they take great pains to tell us.

      Here’s an honest question, and I sincerely wish you read and think carefully on this point: Can you name one area of criminality, atrocity, or war, beside jihad, where we consistently ignore the stated motivations of the perpetrators? When we catch serial or mass murderers, we’re eager to interview them for their motivations and generally believe what’s told to us. It’s widely known such first hand revelations are actually very helpful in understanding root causes for the abhorrent behavior and preventing it in the future. Similarly with war and sectarian conflict (again, besides Islamic jihad), when presented with stated motivations from our enemies, we take them seriously and try to use that information to our advantage, whether militarily or in peace talks. The point is it’s generally valuable to take our antagonists at their word for why they’re antagonizing us (subterfuge aside).

      Not so with Islamic Jihadists. When confronted with volumes of manifestos explaining their religious motivation, hours of speeches saying the same, murderous attackers literally screaming their religious motivation as they massacre innocent men, women and children, you and others on the regressive left cock your head and say, “Nnooo. Nope. Sorry guys. Didn’t you mean to say Western military interventionism and poverty are the main catalysts for your actions?” You completely ignore what they’re telling you and insist the reason is something you personally find more palatable. Not only do I find that bizarre and dangerous, it’s also insufferably condescending and paternalistic. Such obscurantism must be more than frustrating to the greatest victims of Islamic radicalism: Muslims.

      Again, name me one single example where this is done elsewhere for similar conflicts.

      You really don’t have to answer. Take it as food for thought. Apologies to the missus.

      • rustybrown2014 says:

        Very good article about what motivates ISIS:

        The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

        Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.

        Their skepticism is comprehensible. In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics—notably the late Edward Said—who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.

        Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.

        According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”

        All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”

        http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

      • Here’s an honest question, and I sincerely wish you read and think carefully on this point: Can you name one area of criminality, atrocity, or war, beside jihad, where we consistently ignore the stated motivations of the perpetrators?

        Rusty, I think that is a very good way to put it and certainly worth me pondering. You’ve brought me further to your way of thinking, let’s say, about this than before, so let’s leave it at that. I really need to take a break because this stuff keeps creeping into my mind.

        As for the polls, I know I’m stirring the shit about how these polls can be used and perhaps misused. Just saying that Americans are not the only ones who read them and make judgements about foreigners based upon them. One of the ISIS’ hallmarks is its propaganda machine, after all. That said, while I did not see the Republican debate last night–I was at the theater with the missus, which I should have been very scared to do from what I heard of the debate–it seems as though Donald Trump and Ted Cruz answered my rhetorical question about just which civilians half the Christian population of American feels the military is justified in killing.

      • rustybrown2014 says:

        Oh yeah, what I saw of the debate was a horrorshow. Some of their rhetoric about terrorism was reasonable; much of it was xenophobic and pandering to the deep collective fears of Americans. I’d much rather have Democrats address this issue reasonably, but they’ll have to mention the dreaded “I” word first.

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