If President Obama said he liked baseball, certain politicians and “news” sources would ask why he hates football. The Hate Obama crowd can be entertaining at times, but when it comes to confronting the most evil group of terrorists in a generation, their petulant identity politics aren’t just annoying and counterproductive, they’re downright dangerous.
Let’s get one thing clear up front: the so-called Islamic State is evil. There is no other word that so accurately describes a group of men who take such gleeful pleasure in destruction, torture, and killing. There is no other word that adequately communicates the urgent need to stop them by any means necessary. There is no other word that clearly demonstrates the impossibility of compromise and containment. The Islamic State is evil, period.
(I refuse to call this group “ISIS” – I will not further profane the common name of the Goddess Auset)
But for some in this country, defeating the IS doesn’t appear to be their primary concern. They complain that President Obama isn’t “denouncing Islamic terrorism.” Some still persist with the insane idea that Obama is a “secret Muslim” while others want to use this as an excuse to attack Islam and promote their own religion.
These are dangerous distractions from the fight against the evil that is the Islamic State.
President Obama is correct in trying to isolate the IS from the rest of the Muslim world. At a White House summit meeting, he said:
We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.
The IS is helping isolate themselves. Perhaps many in the Middle East don’t care if the IS murders Americans, but burning a Jordanian pilot to death and beheading 21 Egyptians are quite different, as is evidenced by the rapid and lethal response from Jordan and Egypt. The vast majority of Muslims don’t want to live under the IS any more than you do – this made it personal for them.
The US military is conducting air strikes against the IS and we are arming and training local resistance. President Obama has asked Congress for its authorization for further action. That’s probably not legally necessary given the precedents of the past decade, but showing a united front in international conflicts is always helpful.
But this isn’t good enough for those who want this to be a religious war. They want this to be Team Jesus (or, if they’re feeling inclusive, Team Jesus and Moses) against Team Muhammad. They think this is some kind of fantasy sport and they want Obama to score points for their team. They want the President of the United States to not just be the Commander in Chief but also the Revival Preacher in Chief.
And what they really want is what Ann Coulter ridiculously suggested: “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”
This is an unethical suggestion, to say nothing of unrealistic. The atheist suggestion of persuading Muslims to abandon all religion is just as unrealistic.
There are 2 billion Muslims in the world, practicing many forms of Islam. Religion is intertwined with culture – the Islam in Saudi Arabia is not the Islam in Indonesia is not the Islam in the United States.
Those who claim the IS represents “true” Islam are doing exactly what Richard Dawkins et al do with Christianity – assume that the worst is the norm. The Christianity of Mainline Protestantism is not the Christianity of the Southern Baptist Convention is not the Christianity of the Westboro Baptist Church. Islam is at least as diverse as Christianity.
Yes, Islam needs a Reformation, but that has to originate from within Islam.
Those who say we can’t defeat the IS without understanding their religion are correct. This long article in The Atlantic is getting a lot of circulation. It’s not perfect, but it’s key point is critical – the IS believes they’re bringing about a final conflict which will result in a world governed by their version of Islam. There may be some who joined up because of government corruption or lack of employment opportunities (issues that must be addressed if religious extremism is to be permanently wiped out), but the core of the IS are True Believers who won’t be stopped by anything other than force.
However, those who insist we can’t defeat the IS without embracing a muscular, militant Christianity are wrong. If you can watch the IS videos (I haven’t) or read their descriptions (I have) and not feel moved to do something to stop these evildoers, then you’re lacking empathy, not religion.
The evil of the IS has a religious origin but it does not have a religious solution. We can debate whether or not President Obama should be taking a more aggressive approach, but ultimately we need a realistic plan for how to defeat them, without sowing the seeds for something just as bad to spring up after them. That includes massive political and economic reform in the Middle East, which includes our allies in Saudi Arabia, who – lest we forget – carries out its own beheadings for “crimes” such as apostasy, adultery, and witchcraft.
I’m no fan of Islam – I’m a polytheist, remember? I have religious and philosophical problems with monotheism, and I have huge problems with any religion that tries to spread by force. But as with all religions, I will judge the various forms of Islam by how they inspire their followers to live their lives. By that standard, Islam is a good thing for hundreds of millions of people, and I will not lump them in with the evildoers of the IS.
You want a religious condemnation of the IS? Leave that to the religious folks. Here’s mine:
As Horus has defeated Set, so do the forces of Ma’at defeat the evildoers.
Naked are they driven into the desert;
they have no water, they have no bread,
the asp bites and the scorpion stings.
Sekhmet sees their great evil – the Eye of Ra devours them.
They have no Book of Going Forth, for their lies are seen by the Gods.
Their hearts are weighed and found heavy,
for they hold a multitude of sins
and are stained with the blood of the innocent.
Osiris casts their hearts to Ammit
and their souls are consumed.
Their feet are turned backwards, their mouths are not opened.
Never again will they walk among the living.
Never will they ascend to the Duat.
Their children will not know their fathers
and their names are forgotten.
The holy name of Isis is purified
and Auset is praised in the old lands and in the new.