Tuesday, November 17, 2015

more things to think about

If you read a plea to think, you know I've been thinking about the whole ISIS situation. You also know I feel it's more complex than people believe. Here's some further readings:
  • I Was Held Hostage by ISIS presents a good inside look at the terrorist group. They come off less as malevolent evildoers and more like angsty teenagers desperately searching for something in which to believe.
  • How Islamic is the Islamic State? largely undermines the notion of the terrorists as fanatical ideologues. The author writes: "Religion plays little, if any, role in the radicalisation process...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."
  • ISIS Has Studied the Past Successes of Terrorism All Too Well undoes the idea of a real distinction between terrorists and legitimate methods of social change. Terrorism, the author argues, often works quite well as a means to achieve political goals: "neither Sinn Féin, the IRA’s long‑denied legal political wing, nor Hezbollah could ever have acquired the power, influence and status they enjoy today if not for their terrorist antecedents...while governments regularly decry terrorism as ineffective, the terrorists themselves have an abiding faith in their violence, and for good reason"
  • What Americans Thought of Jewish Refugees on the Eve of World War II points out some fairly frightening parallels with the anti-Syrian refugee movement. "[M]ost Western countries regarded the plight of Jewish refugees with skepticism or unveiled bigotry (and sympathy followed only wider knowledge of the monstrous slaughters of the Holocaust)." Hopefully, we won't follow the same path.
Okay, next time, I'm moving on to other things (my album, existential philosophy, or new recipes).

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