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ISIS

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Moliere
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ISIS

Post by Moliere » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:56 pm

Let's start this general ISIS thread with the recent article from The Atlantic.

What ISIS Really Wants
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
While the article is long it provides a lot of information about the history of the movement, its goals, and relationship to groups like Al‑Qaeda.
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Re: ISIS

Post by Kraken » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:42 pm

I endorse this link.

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Re: ISIS

Post by Kurth » Wed Feb 18, 2015 2:39 pm

Best article I've read on ISIS yet. Thanks for posting!

I need to chew on it for a while before further comment. Not sure if I feel better or worse that ISIS is, essentially, just a milleniarian cult. Doesn't really offer much in terms of our strategic/tactical options for dealing with them.
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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 3:00 pm

The problem with the article (in my opinion) is that the writer ignores the fact that the Christian bible is equally as violent and intolerant if taken literally and word for word. The difference is that over time, followers of these religions (hopefully) evolve beyond the savagery of the age during which they were created. So by saying
Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.
he's also saying we should call slavery a Christian act because it's supported in some passages of the bible.

The followers of a religion are the ultimate word in what they believe in. Not ancient texts. So if the majority of the Muslim world is decrying ISIS as being UN-Islamic, they're not wrong.

But he also has some really great insight into the history of ISIS in that article as well. I just thought that one item was an unfair assertion.
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Re: ISIS

Post by Isgrimnur » Wed Feb 18, 2015 3:01 pm

Let's not forget his nerd bashing:
He has the kind of unkempt facial hair one sees on certain overgrown fans of The Lord of the Rings
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Re: ISIS

Post by Kurth » Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:15 pm

hepcat wrote:The problem with the article (in my opinion) is that the writer ignores the fact that the Christian bible is equally as violent and intolerant if taken literally and word for word. The difference is that over time, followers of these religions (hopefully) evolve beyond the savagery of the age during which they were created. So by saying
Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.
he's also saying we should call slavery a Christian act because it's supported in some passages of the bible.

The followers of a religion are the ultimate word in what they believe in. Not ancient texts. So if the majority of the Muslim world is decrying ISIS as being UN-Islamic, they're not wrong.

But he also has some really great insight into the history of ISIS in that article as well. I just thought that one item was an unfair assertion.
I didn't really have a problem with that.

I'm no Bible scholar, so I can't really comment on the slavery assertion. Rather, I would think the author from the piece in the Atlantic would analogize to the Crusades. Putting words in his mouth, I think he'd say that calling the Crusades "un-Christian" would be just as stupid as calling ISIS "un-Islamic."

That's obviously not to say that the brand of apocalyptic Islam ISIS embraces is the Islam embraced by the vast majority of Muslims around the world. But Islam can't wash its hands of ISIS any more than Christianity can wash its hands of the Crusades (or Westboro Baptist, for that matter).

Maybe that's not even the best way to put it. I think what I mean to say -- and what I think the author of that article is saying -- is that the "ISIS is un-Islamic" comments are problematic because they are looking at ISIS - a fundamentally religious entity, to its core -- through a secular lens.
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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 5:35 pm

As long as we agree then that we can't refer to the actions of Westboro Baptist church, abortion clinic bombers and any other atrocities committed in the name of Christianity as UN-Christian acts, I'm okay with that.

But I'm sure some Christians aren't going to be. :wink:
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Re: ISIS

Post by Defiant » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:09 pm

I haven't finished reading the entire (LONG) article, but....
hepcat wrote:
The followers of a religion are the ultimate word in what they believe in. Not ancient texts. So if the majority of the Muslim world is decrying ISIS as being UN-Islamic, they're not wrong.
How do you know who to ask when religions often have multiple strains that have differing beliefs (and sometimes don't believe that adherents of other strains aren't real believers)?

Also,while ancient text alone shouldn't define a religion, it generally does play an important part. I would assume that most Muslims consider their "ancient texts" a very important part of their beliefs, so you can't easily dismiss it like that.

Edit: I found two polls of Muslims that say it should be read literally, one in in a number of African countries (54-93%) and one in the US (50%)

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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:25 pm

I wasn't aware I was easily dismissing it, simply stating that its followers and their beliefs evolve over time and generally don't believe in literal interpretations
I found two polls of Muslims of how many not only consider it very important, but say it should be read literally, one in in a number of African countries (54-93%) and one in the US (50%)
If they truly believed in literal interpretations, they would have a very difficult time existing within the confines of most nations on Earth.

By the way, I used the term "ancient texts" so as not to write out Koran, Old Testament/New Testament, Torah, etc.. It wasn't meant as a disparaging comment.
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Re: ISIS

Post by Moliere » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:37 pm

hepcat wrote:If they truly believed in literal interpretations, they would have a very difficult time existing within the confines of most nations on Earth.
It doesn't stop 28% of Americans from believing the Bible is the word of god and should be taking literally.
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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:41 pm

They tell people that, yes.
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Re: ISIS

Post by El Guapo » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:49 pm

hepcat wrote:They tell people that, yes.
Are they lying?

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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:53 pm

Yes. Or they've never read it.
Last edited by hepcat on Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ISIS

Post by Rip » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:54 pm

I think to take the ancient texts literally you would need to be capable of reading and comprehending them as they were written, rather than the bastardized translations that are used today.

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Re: ISIS

Post by El Guapo » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:57 pm

hepcat wrote:Yes. Or they've never read it.
I do think it's crazy to believe that ancient religious texts are word-for-word true and literal. But at the same time, people believe all sorts of crazy things.

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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:08 pm

It's more likely the majority of that 28 percent are lying rather than insane.
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Re: ISIS

Post by El Guapo » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:18 pm

hepcat wrote:It's more likely the majority of that 28 percent are lying rather than insane.
Really? I think it's far more likely that the people in question aren't terribly interested in reconciling their beliefs with contrary evidence.

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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:22 pm

So they're not lying, they're just not telling the truth?
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Re: ISIS

Post by El Guapo » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:27 pm

hepcat wrote:So they're not lying, they're just not telling the truth?
They are honestly expressing crazy beliefs.

For example, it is crazy to believe that the U.S. government faked the moon landing, but lots of people nonetheless believe that it is true. Unless there's a secret conspiracy where people coordinate moon landing conspiracy nonsense for hidden profits.

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Re: ISIS

Post by Kraken » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:31 pm

El Guapo wrote:
hepcat wrote:It's more likely the majority of that 28 percent are lying rather than insane.
Really? I think it's far more likely that the people in question aren't terribly interested in reconciling their beliefs with contrary evidence.
The Christian fundies that I've known believe selectively, ignoring or glossing over the inconvenient bits about slavery, polygamy, stoning, animal sacrifice, and similar impractical practices. ISIS embraces those.

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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:37 pm

But the majority of Muslims outside ISIS don't consider that to be the beliefs of a true Muslim.
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Re: ISIS

Post by El Guapo » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:37 pm

Kraken wrote:
El Guapo wrote:
hepcat wrote:It's more likely the majority of that 28 percent are lying rather than insane.
Really? I think it's far more likely that the people in question aren't terribly interested in reconciling their beliefs with contrary evidence.
The Christian fundies that I've known believe selectively, ignoring or glossing over the inconvenient bits about slavery, polygamy, stoning, animal sacrifice, and similar impractical practices. ISIS embraces those.
Yeah. They gloss over the contrary parts, but that doesn't mean that their belief isn't honest. They're not sitting there thinking "I sure pulled the wool over that pollster!"

While ISIS certainly doesn't ignore the medieval parts of the Koran, I suspect that they do a similar glossing over of the Koran, it's just that they're glossing over the compassionate parts rather than the medieval punishments parts.

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Re: ISIS

Post by El Guapo » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:38 pm

hepcat wrote:But the majority of Muslims outside ISIS don't consider that to be the beliefs of a true Muslim.
Sure. I was just responding to your statement that people who say that they believe religious texts to be literally true are probably lying.

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Re: ISIS

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:52 pm

The Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, aptly addressed the dangers involved with radical interpretations of sacred Islamic texts during his speech on New Year’s Day, 2015:
Among other things, Sisi said that the “corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries” are “antagonizing the entire world”; that it is not “possible that 1.6 billion people [reference to the world’s Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live”; and that Egypt (or the Islamic world in its entirety) “is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”

The relevant excerpt from Sisi’s speech follows (translation by Michele Antaki):

I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.
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Re: ISIS

Post by Kraken » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:56 pm

hepcat wrote:But the majority of Muslims outside ISIS don't consider that to be the beliefs of a true Muslim.
There are degrees of fundamentalism in any religion. I was raised in a sect (Reformed Church in America) that most people would consider conservative, but I had friends in the stricter Christian Reformed church who considered us liberals because we didn't ban dancing, movies, music in church, leaving the house on Sundays, and similar heinous practices. Our sect's ban on alcohol translated into "don't be seen drinking in public"; theirs was absolute. The difference is that they didn't label us heretics and kill us. Going to hell was punishment enough. God would get us in the end.

The main thing I learned about ISIS is that they are an apocalyptic cult. They can't tolerate apostates, and every Muslim who doesn't believe as they do is an apostate. Recognizing them as a legitimate state and trying to coexist is not an option. There can be no compromise, no accommodation.

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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:58 pm

El Guapo wrote:
hepcat wrote:But the majority of Muslims outside ISIS don't consider that to be the beliefs of a true Muslim.
Sure. I was just responding to your statement that people who say that they believe religious texts to be literally true are probably lying.
I was actually responding to Kraken with that post. :wink:

And let's get something crystal clear: If this discussion results in me eventually having even one less person to play against when the digital version of Twilight Struggle comes out, I will be really pissed off!

But back on topic: I do still truly believe that the overwhelming majority of that 28 percent are lying. But being a hypocrite doesn't necessarily mean you're evil and/or conspiratorial. Still, a hypocrite is, by definition, a liar. And they may not want to, or even be capable of admitting that. But their actions are what determines whether or not they're lying in my mind, not what they personally believe.

Although the phrase "lying to yourself" comes to mind.

By the way, I would kill to see the percentage of that group that has at least one divorce under their belt.
Last edited by hepcat on Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:02 pm

Kraken wrote:
hepcat wrote:But the majority of Muslims outside ISIS don't consider that to be the beliefs of a true Muslim.
There are degrees of fundamentalism in any religion. I was raised in a sect (Reformed Church in America) that most people would consider conservative, but I had friends in the stricter Christian Reformed church who considered us liberals because we didn't ban dancing, movies, music in church, leaving the house on Sundays, and similar heinous practices. Our sect's ban on alcohol translated into "don't be seen drinking in public"; theirs was absolute. The difference is that they didn't label us heretics and kill us. Going to hell was punishment enough. God would get us in the end.

The main thing I learned about ISIS is that they are an apocalyptic cult. They can't tolerate apostates, and every Muslim who doesn't believe as they do is an apostate. Recognizing them as a legitimate state and trying to coexist is not an option. There can be no compromise, no accommodation.
I agree with all of that. I also now believe you were the inspiration for Kevin Bacon's character in Footloose.
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Re: ISIS

Post by LordMortis » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:55 pm

hepcat wrote:It's more likely the majority of that 28 percent are lying rather than insane.
I think it's more likely they are deceiving themselves than they are lying. I think they often believe they believe the Bible is literal but their fingers go in their ears with lalalalalalimnotlisteninglalalalalala when it comes being put to death for working on the sabbath or taking the Lord's name in vane and then they go on believing that they believe in literal teachings of the Bible.

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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:00 pm

So they're not lying, they're just not telling the truth? :wink:

Lying to yourself, lying to others, deceiving yourself, deceiving others...it's all still lying, in my mind.
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Re: ISIS

Post by Defiant » Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:11 pm

It's cognitive dissonance. (Or, in some cases, just ignorance)

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Re: ISIS

Post by Hipolito » Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:31 pm

I'd like to suggest referring to them as Daesh instead of ISIS. Daesh is the Arabic acronym, but the terrorists don't like it because it's a pun for other, derogatory terms. And, fittingly, it sounds like "douche."
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Re: ISIS

Post by Holman » Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:38 pm

It's worth remembering, too, that most people who affirm that their scripture is literally true haven't studied the scriptures with an eye towards what might *not* be true. Reading faithfully and reading critically are different work.

Maybe they've read the entire Bible/Koran, but they've focused on the parts they've been taught are crucial. The rest, even the patently unbelievable stuff, is simply glossed over because they're not part of the core curriculum. When they stumble over a bit that seems hard to take, they just assume that wiser scriptural minds have it covered.

At least, that's how it seemed to work for me back in the day.
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Re: ISIS

Post by Kraken » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:19 pm

Holman wrote:It's worth remembering, too, that most people who affirm that their scripture is literally true haven't studied the scriptures with an eye towards what might *not* be true. Reading faithfully and reading critically are different work.
Yeah, that was a point that I left out of my earlier argument: Believers believe what their leaders teach them. Your average fundie is working with a specific version of the highlights, not the finer points of doctrine. They're not dissembling, they're parroting their particular church's line.

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Re: ISIS

Post by msduncan » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:21 pm

So in a grand total of less than five posts in this "ISIS thread", you guys managed to make it 100% evil Christian thread.

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Re: ISIS

Post by Kraken » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:33 pm

If you read for comprehension you will see that we're talking about fundamentalism in general and the difference between Christian and Muslim fundies in particular.

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Re: ISIS

Post by hepcat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:48 pm

Coincidentally, I'm drinking Guiness.
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Re: ISIS

Post by Zarathud » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:51 pm

Nah, Rip is just reading faithfully.

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Re: ISIS

Post by Zarathud » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:54 pm

hepcat wrote:Coincidentally, I'm drinking Guiness.
How could you, you monster? They're so adorable. Although I can see how you'd get those guineas confused with your umbrella drinks after you put them into a blender:

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Re: ISIS

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:31 am

Zarathud wrote:Nah, Rip is just reading faithfully.
Don't you mean msduncan? :razz:
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Re: ISIS

Post by Zarathud » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:36 am

Doh, serves me right for posting on my way home from work.

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"When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal. - Nixon
"I don't stand by anything." - Trump
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews, 2/1/1867

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