Friday, February 20, 2015

"What ISIS Really Wants"

Islamic State's insular demand that it become all things to all men is nicely parsed in readable English in Graeme Wood's essay in the March issue of The Atlantic: "What ISIS Really Wants." The essay was passed along in email today and makes for informative reading, given the lackluster, us-against-them reporting and policy-making in so many halls of western power.

I admit to feeling a bit pole-axed: The essay is longish and introduces a host of characters and ideologies. By the time I finished, I felt as if I had been a participant at Coney Island's hot-dog-eating contest... a mind overstuffed with good information that I couldn't hope to digest ... but I was bloated.

Nevertheless, since war seems to be in the inevitable cards, I also felt a little less stupid, a little less under-informed, a little less slap-dash. Islamic State, it seems, is done a treacly injustice when some claim its religious foundations are bogus or corrupt. It is religious; it is grounded in Islam; and claiming otherwise amounts to an unwillingness to investigate.

And there is more and more and more ... does this jewel lack for facets to twinkle in the author's light? The essay is well done, but just because I can read it doesn't mean I honestly understand or can swallow yet one more hot dog. I can only hope that others -- whether politician or pundit -- will take Wood seriously.

Wood has fulfilled an idle wish of mine -- that someone, anyone, might take a serious look at the views of those who are acclaimed as "insane" or "enemies." Aside from anything else, well, perhaps the bloodletting will be a little less casual.

The trouble with insanity, of course, is that it can be so eminently sane and must, in some sense, be treated as sane if sanity is the desired result. Knowing how intricately scary Islamic State can be somehow makes it a little less scary.

1 comment:

  1. We've investigated mental illness too. Maybe i'm too stupid, it just seems that no matter how faithful and scholarly and diligently applied to the letters of religious stuff from hundreds of yeas ago, it still "does not apply" and it's crazy to try and do so. I suppose i'm a buddhist, but i willfully ignore his views on women as being the goo of his world stuck between his toes. If we're not supposed to interpret and adapt, what are these brains for? Instinct would suffice for dogged behavior.