David Brooks, Semi-Conservative New York Times columnist.
I never read the New York Times. I read the low-level USA today to see what people are exposed to. I scan the Yahoo headlines when I open Firefox for the same reason. Besides the regular world news and tragedies we are so wired to wanna know about, Taylor Swift and Kanye West get way too much press. After Eminem, Kanye West is the biggest douchebag on earth, OK he passed up Eminem years ago.
Anyways they didn’t have a USA Today so I went for more cerebral reading, the NYT. I usually get my heavy info from all the science and history books, magazines and papers I read, even videos.
Well, I hit this oped by Mr. Brooks entitled When Rapists Win.
He begins by detailing ISIS’s ugly behaviors:
“The ISIS atrocities have descended like distant nightmares upon the numbed conscience of the world. The first beheadings of Americans had the power to shock, but since then there has been a steady barrage of inhumanity: mass executions of Christians and others, throwing gay men from rooftops, the destruction of ancient archaeological treasures, the routine use of poison gas.”
He mentions that ISIS’s reprehensible acts, especially the systematic sex-slave exploitation of captured women has opened “a secret wormhole into (a) different historical epoch” and “knowledge of centuries is being unlearned.” You bet. A return to the Dark Ages, to the Golden Age of Islam.
He’s right, we are witnessing a revival of medieval thinking but the world shouldn’t be surprised. It’s what religions do. And Islam does it better (worse) than all the others combined. Religions glorify the past and uphold bad old ideas, especially medieval ones. It is just that the other religions if they do describe taking captured women for sex slaves (concubines) as in the disgusting Old Testament of Xianity,(the Hebrew Bible of Judaism), it is obvious to today’s believers that the commands of Yahweh applied only to the ancient Israelites and were only for that ancient and barbaric period of history. It is a real stretch to interpret the OT as being a guide for slaughtering your present day enemies and keeping the virgins for yourselves as god commanded Moses with the Midianites. There arent any Midianites around anymore.
Unfortunately the Koran and hadith are real clear that emulating the Prophets behaviors to a tee is a good idea for all time, very easily read as: “If Muhammed and his immediate successors did it then, that’s what we should do now” on all sorts of subjects. ISIS is not making much of a stretch in bringing back sex slavery despite denial by various Muslim interpreters.
From the wiki:
“Muhammad made it legal for his men to marry their slaves and the women they captured in war, giving them full marriage rights, based on two chapters of the Qur’an, Al-Muminun 6 and Al-Maarij 30, which clarify permissible sexual intercourse as being with either conventional spouses or female slaves, saying literally “their spouses or what their right hands possess”.”
Xians don’t take WWJD very seriously in their daily routine, but our Muslim friends follow WWMD (What Would Muhhammed Do) as a constant source of guidance on just about everything. The ISIS boyz aren’t extremists extrapolating some weird interpretation of their scripture. They are just following the book. All Muslims are wont to do that, much more than your average Xian or Jew and the language is clearer to repeat behaviors of the past. So what we might call extremism is actually very much mainstream Islam. Its just that most Muslims being good human beings don’t go that far. They have enough archaic ideas on women, homosexuality, sex, birth control, FGM, to keep themselves busy anyway. And most people of any religion aren’t all that violent.
Brooks does a good job listing the absurd and ugly facts of what he aptly terms ISIS’s “theocratized” rape. It is difficult to read and imagine for the enslaved young victims, and I applaud his clear exposition of the religious aspects. However, he goes on to say:
“This wasn’t supposed to happen in the 21st century. Western experts have stared this thing in the face, trying to figure out the cause (emphasis mine) and significance of the moral disaster we are witnessing.”
Really? Fuck me.
“Its the religion, stupid” is my answer to Brooks and the Western experts. What did you expect? The cause is direct and clear.
All religions are a moral disaster to some extent. All the misogyny, homophobia, sexual repression and science denial in the world are mediated by religious ideas. Women are only second class citizens and denied their reproductive rights in religious realms, not by the secular world. ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban before them, ALL Muslim terrorists are merely following their book. That’s why there are so many Islamic terrorist organizations and lone acts of terrorism far surpassing any other extant religion. It is in their book. It is not that “Muslims” (a broad mix of every ethnicity) are somehow inherently more violent and prone to extremism. Its the religion that promotes subjugation, repression of women, death to apostates and infidels (and cartoonists), the return of the caliphate and yes, sex slavery.
Wahhabism, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Al Queda, the Muslim Brotherhood and on and on. It is in their book to emulate the Prophet who could do no wrong and to establish a caliphate, take slaves, convert everyone else or have them pay taxes if they don’t. Unlike their predecessors whom they have eclipsed, ISIS has done just that. They are not the first to take territory, but they are the first to declare the caliphate and follow the book to the letter.
No other religion, however archaic, divisive, ugly and repressive has anything like this in its tenets. Xians want you to know the “Good News” of Christ’s salvation. The Kingdom of God awaits you in heaven, not in a re-established Xian caliphate here on earth. The reincarnation religions of Buddhism and Hindusim (however as homophobic and misogynistic as Xiansanity) want us all to become enlightened, but not subjugated.
ISIS ability to recruit worldwide is due in large part in claiming the caliphate has been finally returned and that is supposed to be not merely a good thing but the best thing for all Muslims everywhere. The Taliban and others never made that step.
Brooks feels “the response to ISIS has been pathetic” and “ISIS will thrive and spread its ideas far and wide as long as it has land.” The Taliban had way more land but no international Internet PR making sure the world knew the caliphate and its caliph had returned.
Brooks thinks it is the territory they hold that is the issue and like other Conservatives the ISIS problem could be solved with force. It is a simple matter of taking the territory back. He strongly feels along with other Conservatives that Obama hasn’t taken ISIS seriously. The US and coalition forces have tried taking back territory in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, to complete failure. They wisely didn’t bite on getting directly involved in Syria. But Brooks is incensed we (the US) have not responded strongly enough to the sex slavery, the systematic rape.
We must remember Boko Haram re-established an Islamic sex-slave trade in Nigeria on the world stage just before ISIS by kidnapping schoolgirls nearly a year and a half ago. They still maintain their territory, but despite desiring to they haven’t been able to establish a caliphate. They still control a wide swath of Nigeria and the majority of the kidnapped girls have never been freed. Taking land from any of the Islamic terrorist groups has been a failure as bad as Vietnam.
ISIS’s formidable recruiting power from Muslims all over the world as compared to that of any other terrorist group resides in the politico-religious act of establishing the caliphate which all Muslims are taught is just the bestest thing happenin’ and the one true and holy way to protect Islam from pollution by other cultures, to preserve it purely for all time, to provide a return to the Golden Age, and from which to rule the entire world to the glory of Allah. It is all these ideas, not just the territory that make ISIS a threat to modern civilization. It is inherent in the religion itself.
When we view the atrocities of ISIS and Boko Haram today as nearly impossible to fathom, we forget the forerunners of such horrors perpetrated by the Taliban 2 decades ago in 1998 with arms and vehicles provided by the Saudis and including Arab fighters supplied by bin Laden in decimating the Shi’te population of Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan:
“Once inside the defenseless city, the Taliban continued raping and killing for two days, indiscriminately shooting anything that moved, then slitting throats and shooting dead men in the testicles. The bodies of the dead were left to wild dogs for six days before survivors were allowed to bury them. Those citizens who fled the city on foot were bombed by the Taliban air force. Hundreds of others were loaded into shipping containers and baked alive in the desert sun. The UN estimated the total number of victims in the slaughter to be between five and six thousand people. Four hundred women were taken to be concubines”
The above is excerpted from Lawrence Wright’s “The Looming Tower” from a previous post here which provides a good synopsis of the Rise of Islamism .
So despite Conservatives handwaving that what ISIS is doing is atrocious at it is, (and it certainly is) and our response is not strong enough, it is nothing new. The Taliban did as much over a quarter of decade ago and Boko Haram a year before ISIS in carrying out “theocratized” rape and the taking of concubine sex slaves from the infidels. ISIS just makes sure the whole world knows about it. And US boots on the ground is EXACTLY what they want. Then they could really recruit from the worlds 2 billion Muslims to help preserve the caliphate against the US Satan out to destroy Islam itself.
Taking back the terrorists territory alone wont do it, if it could be done. It is the ideas in the religion that must be reformed or jettisoned outright or another organization will morph to take its place after the last of these three isn’t in the news anymore and in the Conservatives crosshairs. Islam must reform its way out of its insular paranoid cocoon, caliphate-envy and the horrific theocratized violence it perpetrates on the world, predominantly on fellow Muslims.
end religion now. All of them.