The Nazis and the Khmer Rouge went to great lengths to hide their crimes against humanity. Instead, ISIS posts its many crimes on social media for global distribution with seemingly no thoughts for the consequences.
The mistake some make when viewing ISIS is to see it as a rational actor. Instead, as the magazine documents, its ideology is that of an apocalyptic cult that believes that we are living in the end times and that ISIS' actions are hastening the moment when this will happen.
We live in an increasingly secularized world, so it's sometimes difficult to take seriously the deeply held religious beliefs of others. For many of us the idea that the end of times will come with a battle between "Rome" and Islam at the obscure Syrian town of Dabiq is as absurd as the belief that the Mayans had that their human sacrifices could influence future events.
First, what world does this author, Peter Bergen, live in that is increasingly secularized? Has CNN fired all the Christians that worked there? Does he choose to surround himself with only liberal atheists? Last I checked, some 75% of Americans call themselves Christian. Over 1.5 billion people around the world call themselves Christian. Around the same call themselves Muslim. That’s over half the world’s population right there, Peter, that are not secular. Maybe the media in America is, by and large, secularized today, but the population most certainly is not. If you cannot “take seriously the deeply held religious beliefs of others,” it sounds like you need to work on your tolerance— which today means accepting all opposing viewpoints as truth— and stop condescending.
What consequences will ISIS have for beheading hundreds, thousands of people and posting videos of their acts online? The media is shirking away from showing the “offensive” images that caused the mass murder in Paris last month. The media is shirking away from showing the “offensive” images that caused the killings in Denmark over the weekend. The President of the United States of America refuses to call these men and women Muslim and even refused to call the victims of 21 beheadings Christian, even though that was the key defining trait that got them killed. Estimates show that we have killed some 6,000 members of ISIS in our bombing raids, while they have grown to over 150,000 strong. Us killing them is only making them stronger!
I had talked with many friends a couple years back about the dire situation in Syria, that it was a powderkeg waiting to blow, that if we didn’t do something, it would blow. My guess at the time was too small. I said that it would end with the destruction of Damascus and the country that once stood in Syria would become a training ground for Al Qaeda. Well, it did blow, but the rebels got much bigger and blew out the east of Syria to start their conquering of Iraq to reform the caliphate.
When Peter writes “The mistake some make when viewing ISIS is to see it as a rational actor,” he condescends to the point of not understanding, making a big mistake. Can we look back at Hitler and see rhyme and reason in what he did? Some of it. But some of it so horrific that many cannot see the rationality. Most cannot see the eugenics experiment that he was conducting to cleanse the German people and form the Aryan race. That starting with the weak, the insane, the handicapped was straight up logic from a Darwinian worldview. They were a burden on an already bad economy. The mistake that Peter makes here is that ISIS is a rational actor, but you must understand their ideology to understand their reasoning.
Instead of saying that Islam is a peaceful religion, you should be looking back at Islam historically. Look at what they did to Spain when they conquered it. Many revisionist historians say that the citizens of Spain lived happily and safely under their Muslim rulers, but the fact is they were forced to pay the jizya to show their subjection to Islamic law and to receive protection. The Muslim leaders took woman as sex slaves left and right, forcing them into marriage. Happiness is not the word that I’d use to describe Muslim Spain. And Spain wasn’t the only one to be conquered by Islam before the Crusades we called to push them back and defend those under the oppressive rule of Islam.
The first war that America fought after the Revolution was with Islam. After our ships being attacked by Tripolian forces again and again, Thomas Jefferson “asked the Muslim ambassador what the new country of America had done to offend them, he reported to John Jay, March 28, 1786”:
The Ambassador answered us that it was … written in their Qur’an, that all nations who should not have acknowledged Islam’s authority were sinners, that it was their … duty to make war upon them … and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners.
Jefferson’s response was not to claim they were not Muslim, but to buy a Quran so that he could understand them. Jefferson rose a navy specifically to go after and end this threat to America.
You can look at the large, 1400 years of Islamic history and see the actions of ISIS repeated time and again. This isn’t the first time this has happened. The history of Islam is war.
So are all Muslims like this? No! There are many moderate and liberal Muslims, especially in America, that don’t follow the historical, warring views of Islam. Just like there are groups of Christians that don’t follow the largely peaceful history of Christianity. But to quote Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham:
Many people in history have used the name of Jesus Christ to accomplish evil things for their own desires. But Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness. He came to give His life for the sins of mankind, not to take life. Mohammad on the contrary was a warrior and killed many innocent people. True followers of Christ emulate Christ—true followers of Mohammed emulate Mohammed.
That is why saying that there are radicals in all faiths in only partly true. Radical Christians kill people. Radical Muslims don’t. Those that follow Mohammed do kill and do so in abundance.
Understand the rationality of those that seek to kill you. Instead of condescending— “rational actor”, “cult,” “difficult to take seriously the deeply held religious beliefs,” “absurd”— to those that you don’t understand, try to understand them. We are not going to dismantle their new caliphate if we just call them barbaric as we drop our bombs on them.