I have many thoughts on the Paris attacks but the one I want to point out today is this: there are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and what most of them want to do is live their lives, love their family, friends and neighbors, and be at peace with themselves, their world and their God.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks; one of ISIS’ goals is to spread distrust of Muslims for its own ends, to end the “grayzone,” as it calls it:

Which is to say that every time someone lumps all Muslims into the ISIS camp, the stupid, murderous, rapist, culture-destroying ISIS camp, they’re doing ISIS’ work for them. ISIS is relying on the rest of us to see the world as they do, and as they want us to.

If you believe that every Muslim supports ISIS and groups like it, then you should also believe that all Christians support the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church and Scott Lively. You should believe that all white people support actions like the Charleston Shooting. You should believe every man celebrates the anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre. And so on, across any group or affiliation you might be able to name.

If you don’t believe all of these things, but somehow manage to believe that more than a billion people are somehow sympathetic to, and responsible for the actions of, a cadre of murderous fundamentalists (“fundamentalist” in this case, as in so many cases with that term, not accurately representing the fundamentals of the religion it claims to represent), then the problem is you, not 1.2 billion Muslims. If you demand they answer and apologize for ISIS, I will be more than happy to go down a list of all the things you can be identified as and demand you apologize and answer for the actions of the worst of that segment of society. I suspect you will get tired of this very quickly.

The Muslims I know, and I know more than just a few, are as horrified as anyone by ISIS and what they represent. The Muslims I know are good people, and I am proud if and when they consider me to be their friend. I don’t experience what they feel when events like this happen, which give bigots here, where we live, an excuse to hate and demonize them. But I can see the impact from the outside. It’s stupid what is done to them, and it’s wrong.

So: Don’t. Don’t do what ISIS wants you to do. Don’t be who ISIS wants you to be, and to be to Muslims. Be smarter than they want you to be. All it takes is for you to imagine the average Muslim to be like you, than to be like ISIS. If you can do that, you make a better world, and a more difficult one for groups like ISIS to exist in.

If you can’t do that, consider that perhaps you are more like ISIS than the average Muslim.

272 Comments on “Paris”

  1. Obviously the Mallet will be in play here. I will not tolerate bigotry against Muslims as a class, and will have a hair trigger on deciding what counts as a bigoted statement. Fear my wrath.

    This post is likely to bring in new people here. For those of you who actually plan to leave cogent comments, here is the comment policy for the site. Pay attention to it, please. For those who come just to be shitheads, your comments are going to be deleted, so I’m not sure why you would want to bother.

    I do have other work to do this weekend, so if this comment thread becomes too much work to moderate, I plan on closing it.

    Basically, don’t piss me off. Not in the mood for it today.

  2. Well said. My first thought was that now more than ever Europe/the U.S.should open themselves to Syrian refugees. More ‘grey zone’ is the best way to stick it to the people who do these terrible things.

  3. I have a number of Muslim friends, mostly writers and poets, much of their writings denigrate America though they live and work here, the CEO of a huge corporation finds the “pagan” lifestyle here abominable. My thought is, come out, good muslims, come out and show your outrage for the terroism done in the name of Islam.

  4. Heartafire:

    I have a lot of friends who are not Muslims who also write works that can be seen as “denigrating” America although they live and work here too — hell, some of my work is undoubtedly seen that way. So what? The privilege of being an American and/or living here is the ability to speak your mind on any subject however you like. Your Muslim friends are doing no more or less than any other person here has a perfect right to under our Constitution.

    Also, so, you’re asking for other Muslims to answer and apologize for the stupidities of ISIS and terrorism, basically. Please go back and read the entry more closely this time.

  5. All blind belief makes me sad these days–all those who refuse to use logic and evidence (along with all those who refuse to admit how painfully little we actually know for sure, which should above all else make us slow to judge, slow to act, and for the sake of all that is good slow to think we know enough when to kill another human being . . . which goes for everyone, of any persuasion, anywhere). I’m just incredibly sad for the people out on a beautiful Parisian night, and now they are dead.) Peace.

  6. My thoughts and my heart is with the people of France and Paris. It is also with our muslim citizens and the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have come here fleeing that very terror. Because I know they’ll be seen as “them”. When you demand that they “come out now and condemn* this” you say that unless they prove their opposition, they are suspected of being in allegiance with Daesh.

    *Which, of course, many of them have already done and keep doing because in times like this religious and political leaders tend to do those things. Regardless whether the perpetrators shared their religion or nationality.

  7. Yes. A quick Google search (not necessarily accurate, and these things are always hard to quantify) gives me roughly 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and (for comparison) 2.2 billion Christians in the world. With those numbers, it’s simply impossible for Islam to be the religion of violence that the bigots would have you believe it is. If it were, the world we live in would look nothing like the world we, y’know, live in.

  8. Yes to all of this. It’s getting to the point where I’m convinced angry bigots (are there any happy bigots?) simply rejoice when these things happen. Anything to reinforce their narrow, false, and paranoid world view. They have this stunning brain function whereby they cannot comprehend they are no different than the hateful bigots inhabiting the other nations of the world.

  9. One of the most frightening sidelines of this tragedy is the number of people willing to ally themselves with the madmen of ISIS in order to score points on their own (usually domestic) political agenda. Banal, predictable, but still frightening. And sad.

  10. Sadness is the right feeling. Nobody wins, except of some newspapers and some news senders who are increasing the number of readers or viewers and some lobbyist who will have easer to sell more arms and so called security measures.
    People will get all excited about religion and emigrants giving more power to populistic, power seeking politicians.
    Unfortunately, only a few will make a study of it. For me there are good people and evil people. Fortunately, there are much more good people than evil. No matter of color, religion or culture.

  11. This is why I am not a writer. You put my thoughts into words in a way that I could never do. Thank you.

  12. @Heartafire, @Alan

    “come out, good muslims,…”?
    “… rarely if ever hear Muslims denounce these acts of terrorism”?

    Seriously? You mean like this? Or this?

    I would suggest that just because you *somehow* don’t hear it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. This took me all of 20 seconds, by Googling paris attacks condemnation.

    I also wonder, like what Mr Scalzi has said above, do you feel the need to constantly and publicly declaim the Westboro Baptist Church? For the Klan? For whatever terrible acts someone who you share an ethnicity, or creed, or gender with? If not, why do you have these expectations of others?

  13. So few white folk from Christianized cultures realize that Islam isn’t a monolith. It has denominations and sects and regional/cultural variances just like Christianity does. A Wahabbist from Saudi Arabia does Islam entirely differently than a Muslim from Indonesia. They are just as different from each other as a Kansas Presbyterian is from a Serbian Orthodox.

    The people attempting to weaponize religion have far more in common with each other than with the vast majority of peaceful members of the (nominally) same umbrella faith. There’s a reason why these assholes target their own (Syria, Beirut, Boko Haram): They WANT to eliminate the peaceful ones so non-Muslims will see all of them as a violent monolith which must be attacked. They WANT a full-on war, just as the RCC wanted holy wars throughout most of the previous millennium. (And like the RCC attacked fellow Christians who didn’t toe their line. Go look at what Europe looked like ~500 years ago. Same shit, different century.)

    It’s also easy to blame religion in general for this. I’m an atheist, and I do think empiricism would be a far better guide for public policy than superstition. However, formal religion isn’t necessary for destroyers and despots to use as a vehicle for their violence. Any passionately held belief can be used as a tool to gain followers and inspire them to do violence.

    If it helps, think of these assholes like a supervillain that gains in power the more laser blasts you aim at it. More violence will not make them stop, but make them stronger. The only way to stop them is to cut off their source of power and thus disarm them. That’s what we should do here, and every other time some fuckwit who says they’re channelling The One True Way starts hurting innocents.

  14. Sorry, looks like part of my response was someone who got deleted for exceptional silliness. Please feel free to remove the offending bit that I quoted if necessary.

  15. Here’s the Muslim Council of Great Britain (the country I live in) condmning ISIS. Personally I didn’t need them to do it, but here they are if anyone wants to see.

    Now this was in August 2014, and, apparently not the first time they spoke out. I also recall several Imams writing a letter saying that joining ISIS is against Islam as they understand it about that time.

    If this isn’t good enough for someone, perhaps they should let me know how often or frequently or powerfully one needs to condemn something to be acceptable.

  16. “Black-and-white thinking”, aka “splitting”, is in the DSM-IV as one of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, and also as a destructive process that can happen as a component of depression.

    But it’s both something people normally do as a response to violence, and also one of the causes of violence. The elimination of the greyzone.

  17. In the aftermath of another tragic event I find myself wondering the same old question, what happens to people to make them hate so much? I know that ignorance is what causes citizens of the world to dump the blame on one large group of people. No matter how many times the voices of reason explain the truth, it seems to go in one ear and out the other side. They want someone to hate, too.The circle goes round and round. What’s it going to take for people to wake up? I’m afraid that there isn’t a solution that doesn’t take centuries to enact and that’s the most distressing thing to me.

  18. Thanks for being a voice of calm and reason. I’m too much in shock at the whole affair, of all the senseless deaths of innocent people, to say anything…thinky. But I did want to say thank you.

  19. Thank you for these thoughts.

    I shared this post with my Facebook and G+ crews, with the following comment:

    Scalzi wisdom: re: recent events
    TL;DR version: Hate and fear is both their greatest weapon, and the largest chink in our armor. Calmer heads prevail.
    My thoughts: Wanna get back at ISIS? Go find a muslim and give em a big ol’ hug – post the pictures online. Make it a movement.

    Hate is for people who are not capable of coming up with a better idea. For everyone else, we need to embrace and live that better idea.

  20. My thought is, come out, good muslims, come out and show your outrage for the terroism done in the name of Islam.

    My thought is….why aren’t you listening?

    They do this after every single terrorist act linked to Islam…it’s even in the mass media….and still people say this.

  21. @heartafire – I understand why you feel that way. But I hope that I can persuade you that your desire that Muslims speak out against these acts of violence is misdirected blame. As a Muslim, may I share a piece I have written that tries to address your point? It was actually written in response to a very similar complaint by a Christian blogger, Dan Peterson, to which I replied in detail. Here is the link:

    the silence libel: Muslims do not need to condemn

    I sincerely hope you have time to read and consider what I am trying to say and I invite you to contact me if you would like to continue the discussion. You can reach me on twitter at @azizhp.

  22. First of all thank you for your poignant and accurate perspective on this sad tragedy. I don’t know very many Muslims, but I do know Christians and non Christians who will lump the Muslim community in to one giant hate group for what has happened in Paris. All too often do people forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and see that, above the religion and politics, there is one thing that truly binds us together and that is the human condition.

  23. No, of course not all Muslims are supporters of the Daesh (the Arabic name for ISIS and a name that they will kill you for using). For that matter, most of the people the Daesh are killing are fellow Muslims, whether they be Shi’a or Kurds or Sunnis who aren’t as nuts as they are. The problem is with a particular strain of Sunni Islam called Salafism that teaches that the only “pure” Islam is the Islam practiced at the time of Muhammad—a form of Islam that is innately violent, brutal, and utterly intolerant. So yes, on the point that not all Muslims are violent, that’s absolutely true. Most Muslims are not violent, do not support the Daesh, and just want to live their lives in peace.

    The problem is that there’s a significant minority—anywhere from a quarter to a third depending on what surveys you look at—that isn’t peaceful. They are Salafists who believe that it is their God-given duty to slaughter the infidels, wherever they may be. I know that’s a tough statement, but here’s what the intellectual founder of the modern Salafist jihadi movement said about it:

    “It is immaterial whether the homeland of Islam – in the true Islamic sense, Dar ul-Islam – is in a condition of peace or whether it is threatened by its neighbors. When Islam strives for peace, its objective is not that superficial peace which requires that only that part of the earth where the followers of Islam are residing remain secure. The peace which Islam desires is that the religion (i.e. the Law of the society) be purified for God, that the obedience of all people be for God alone.”

    “With these verses from the Qur’an and with many Traditions of the Prophet – peace be on him – in praise of Jihaad, and with the entire history of Islam, which is full of Jihaad, the heart of every Muslim rejects that explanation of jihaad invented by those people whose minds have accepted defeat under unfavorable conditions and under the attacks on Islamic Jihaad by the shrewd orientalists.”

    “What kind of a man is it who, after listening to the commandment of God and the Traditions of the Prophet – peace be on him-and after reading about the events which occurred during the Islamic Jihaad, still thinks that it is a temporary injunction related to transient conditions and that it is concerned only with the defense of the borders?”

    The author of those words was Sayyid Qutb, one of the founders of al-Iqwan (the Muslim Brotherhood) who helped set the foundation for groups like al-Qaeda and the Daesh.

    Yes, the Daesh want to eliminate the “gray zone” and divide the world into what Qutb called “dar ul-Islam” (the House of Submission) and “dar ul-harb” (the House of War). But just being friendly with Muslims isn’t going to stop them. The only way to stop groups like the Daesh is to stop them from being able to wage war against anyone, whether it be Kurds, other Sunnis, Europeans, or Americans.

    The question we need to be asking is what do we do to stop groups like Daesh? Comforting bromides about how not all Muslims are violent don’t get anywhere near to answering that question. The realities of the situation are far harsher than that. We have a group of people that very literally will not stop until they have killed everyone that doesn’t believe exactly what they do. They don’t care about moderate Muslims—they are very happy to kill them too.

    No, we are not at war with all 1.8 billion members of the Islamic faith. But you can be damn sure we are at war with the Salafist minority—a war they have declared and they have been consistently carrying out for far too long. The question is whether we want to end that war now or let it continue to spread like a cancer across the globe—killing more moderate Muslims than anyone else?

    We’ve endured a slow drip of mass-casualty terrorist attacks from Paris to London to Madrid to Mumbai to Bali to New York. How long are we going to live in a world where that’s allowed to happen before we decide to not only name the real enemy but do something decisive about them? The longer we try to ignore the situation, the worse it will get. The war in Syria has already spread to Iraq, it’s already spreading to Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, and other places.

    President Holland has already promised to be “pitiless” in going after the Daesh. I hope that’s exactly what he does—and under Article V of the NATO charter the United States should treat the attack on Paris as an attack on us. Just, I may add, as the French did after 9/11. The Daesh are a cancer that is already killing the Middle East and will not stop there. Are we going to merely point out that most of the cells in the body of the Middle East are not cancerous and leave it at that? Or are we going to attack the cancer and end it?

  24. “Attacking the cancer” won’t end it. It feeds it. In the past century and a half there have only been two guerrilla movements that have been extinguished. And only through reaching the people, not killing them. I speak from some knowledge having spent a good portion of my life studying and practicing both insurgency and counter-insurgency.
    I recommend watching Frontline’s special on The Rise of Isis to at least get an idea what it is and where it came from. And initially ISIS was on the side of the Syrian Rebels we are now supporting (although there aren’t many left) And the Kurds are a different group who we’ve been working with for a long time, such as Operation Provide Comfort. This situation, like almost all, is not black or white. There are shades of grey to it.
    Also, those who espouse “kill ’em all” should be writing that on their way to enlist. Don’t leave it to others.

  25. Those who wish to say this somehow taints all people of Islam, read what those who analyze actual data say:
    “Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11”

    “According to Table 2, the US ranks 20th in terms of total attacks. The most frequently attacked country in the data set is Colombia with over 6,700 attacks.”

    Also remember: Judaism had its Golden Age under Islam at a time when Christians like Tomás de Torquemada were torturing all who did not agree with a very narrow worldview.

  26. [This posted deleted in no small part because it said, “you will probably delete this,” and I hate to disappoint people with their expectations. Also because of poor logic, but mostly for the first thing — JS]

  27. Well said, Mr. Scalzi, and thank you. But it’s Shawna’s remarks that I’d like to have put on a billboard and planted in front of my house.

  28. Jay Reding:

    “The problem is that there’s a significant minority—anywhere from a quarter to a third depending on what surveys you look at—that isn’t peaceful.”

    Well, no. Your presentation is unnuanced to say the least. To point out only one issue here, there is ample evidence of Salafi Muslims who have condemned terrorist attacks (see, as an example, this response from earlier in the year regarding the attack on Charlie Hebdo, a relevant part of which is this:

    Fifthly: Those who perpetrated these crimes:

    1. Have no knowledge, understanding, insight and patience.

    2. They have no authority or governance.

    3. They have exposed the Muslims to greater harm and more restrictions, unwarranted scrutiny and acts of mindless revenge upon the innocent.

    4. They have emboldened more non-Muslim journalists and the general folk to mock and ridicule Islām, the Prophet and the believers.

    5. They have set up yet another barrier to non-Muslims from learning the beauty of Islām and entering into the true religion.

    6. They have created an image that Islām is a religion of confusion, anarchy and disorder.

    7. They have diverted the people away from the true Message of Islām which is: The call to the worship of Allāh, Almighty God, without associating partners with Him in any aspect of one’s worship. This was the starting point of the call of the Messengers from Noah to Moses to Jesus and finally, Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon them all)

    You’re not doing much better than those who go after all Muslims, Mr. Reding. Let’s go ahead and move on.

  29. The comparison of radical Islamic pieces of $&^#, their sympathizers and their supporters – both overt and covert – to the same among the KKK, Christian fundamentalist, and those Westboro Baptist whack jobs is quite a stretch and growing very wearisome. It’s the default argument of defense. There are nowhere near as many KKK and members, sympathizers and supporters of the KKK, Westboro Baptists, or ANY other “radicals” as there are on “the other side” of this author’s argument.

    Indeed, 1.2 billion is a huge number. I get that it’s just plain wrong to paint all those Muslims with the same brush. And these numbers of Islamic radicals (all are Muslim right?) basing their actions on Islam interpretation – however perverted it may be – is huge, growing rapidly and shows no sign of slowing down. The ‘averages’ that the author asks us to “be smarter than we want to be about” are growing. As this progresses it’s going to be harder and harder to keep an open mind.

    Frankly I’d rather have a Westboro Whack Job wave a sign in front of my house than I would an Islamic Radical blow me up. It just seems better for me personally.

  30. Steve S:

    “The comparison of radical Islamic pieces of $&^#, their sympathizers and their supporters – both overt and covert – to the same among the KKK, Christian fundamentalist, and those Westboro Baptist whack jobs is quite a stretch and growing very wearisome.”

    Well, Steve S., if you like I can bring up these Christian militias in Africa who very recently did an ethnic cleansing on Muslims, or point out that the Hutu in Rwanda were largely Christian and killed nearly a million people, mostly Tutsi, who were largely Muslim. That was not so long ago. But I thought I would focus on groups people reading would be more likely to know.

    Also, would you rather bleed to death after having your arms cleaved off by a Christian wielding a machete, or have an Islamic radical blow you up? Since you didn’t find Westboro and the KKK sufficiently evil, I mean.

  31. To the people of France:

    Clearly, ISIS poses a danger to your nation, and at this moment it may be difficult to think one greater. But there is one larger potential danger: your reaction to their attacks. As we in the US found out, the urge to take action after such a horrific event can overwhelm the ability to work out exactly just what actions to take.

    I invite you to learn from our experience. Think back on 9/11, and ask yourself: What did the US do right? What mistakes did it make? (And, while you’re at it, ask yourselves which of those mistakes contributed to the rise of ISIS.) Ironically, you may be in a better position to asses our response than we are, as our evaluation of it is hindered by politics and misplaced patriotism; it’s entirely possible that an honest assessment of our response may have to wait until all of us who were alive on 9/11 are gone.

    You have one big advantage over the US: your military is probably not capable of mounting an invasion of Syria on its own. But there are still many serious mistakes available to you. You could elect more National Front candidates, which is tantamount to giving ISIS the ability to choose your leaders. Or you could curtail the rights of French Muslims in some way, trading your national principles for perceived safety. Or many others.

    We Americans can be idiots sometimes (think Freedom Fries), but we value you as a free nation and an ally, and sincerely wish you well. Please choose carefully.

  32. I agree with your post. Whitewashing all Muslims to be like those who purpotrated these attacks is foolish.

    You also frequently point out that there are over 1 billion Muslims, most of whom just want to live their lives in peace. Agreed.

    But, this is argumentum ad populem to some extent. “There is a billion of these people, most don’t do this!” ignores the flipside of the coin. Even if only 1% of Muslims are radicalized and agree w/ ISIS, that’s over a million people. That’s not an insignificant number.

    But if you look at the most recent, widely polled, non-political pew data, there is only one conclusion to be made. The percentage of Muslims who sympathize/approve of violance towards: civilians, apostasy, women, other faiths, etc. is well beyond 1%.

    To not acknowledge this is disingenuous.

    We absolutely need to give sympathy & support to the majority of Muslims who have nothing to do with this. But it is not bigoted/hateful to point out that Islam has a significant problem with extremisim and terrorists. Rather, all people should acknowledge and discuss it, collectively & constructively, so that we can find a peaceful solution for all people.

  33. Keithrl:

    “But it is not bigoted/hateful to point out that Islam has a significant problem with extremisim and terrorists.”

    So does Christianity. So does Buddhism. So does Hinduism. So does [insert any group/religion/nation/etc you like]. Not recognizing the truth of this statement will not endear you to actual fact. Likewise, suggesting that it is Islam specifically that has this problem, while not recognizing the same dynamic in other religions/groups/nations, etc, is bigoted and hateful.

    Maybe instead of saying “ISLAM has a problem!” we should recognize that humans endemically have a problem with violence, and also choose to rationalize our problem with violence by creating justifications for it with the nearest convenient ideology.

  34. @Steve S: Would you rather have a Christian Identity nut shoot up your synagogue than an Islamic fundamentalist protest the opening of a liquor store? Would you prefer to have your daughter murdered by a “men’s rights warrior” than to see an op-ed in your local paper complaining about women going around with their hair uncovered? Are you more OK with Christian terrorists executing doctors and blowing up abortion clinics than you are with Muslim cab drivers refusing to transport alcohol?

    And do you similarly demand that Buddhists worldwide apologize for terrorism against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, or that Jews everywhere shout a mea culpa when ultra-haredi extremists burn a Palestinian olive grove?

    Setting aside your missing the original point (i.e., that it’s silly to expect only certain groups, but not others, to loudly grovel in public when some small subset of that group behaves abominably), you’re deliberately comparing apples and oranges – terrorists vs. protesters.

  35. Steve S. “As this progresses it’s going to be harder and harder to keep an open mind.” Regardless of the difficulty, keep on keeping an open mind. It’s the only sane way to respond to, well, anything. The alternative is a closed mine, and I can’t see how that is ever useful.

  36. That’s nice that this is your first thought. My first thought is with the victims, who went to see a music show, arguably one of the greatest things about life, and are now dead. I cant help being angry about it and the anger, while not misplaced, is desperate and despairing. And everyone’s ‘prayers’ can do dick for them now.
    Surely you can understand people’s anger? Surely you can understand how everyone is sick of the same shit happening over and over, including this lecture you felt obligated to write? Whats happening lately is like that quote about Insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Rights foaming at the mouth and being hypocrites, lefts instantly trying to prove their humanity, and politicians spewing the same old tired speeches about ‘cowards’ and ‘not being intimidated and scared’.
    Well, people are fucking right to be intimidated and scared at this point. And naturally everyone is going to think about their families. That is not self-centered, it’s just a fact of life.

    The problem with conservatives is that they don’t seem to acknowledge their “hard line” for decades now has bred terrorists and doesn’t work. But there is also a problem with liberals too. The incessant need to tumblrize life, to ‘understand’ something thats right now at a point of complete incomprehesion, and to be constant benevolent lecturers instead of taking a step back and finding middle ground. The middle ground here would be for EVERYONE to reevaluate their lives and opinions.

  37. I concluded a while back that the people who are comfortable dehumanizing their enemies are all basically in agreement. The people who think that it’s great when gay people die, and the people who think it’s great when Nazis die, and the people who feel that way about any other set of people, whatever their reasoning? They all *agree*, fundamentally, that only some of the humans are really people. They are just arguing over who’s on which list.

    I don’t expect all the Muslims out there to condemn ISIS, any more than I expect all the Christians to stop what they’re doing every time Westboro does something horrible and say “hey, I don’t like those people”.

  38. @Jay Reding & Steve S:

    Actually, waving signs is what most Salafis do. As Mr. Scalzi pointed out, there are Salafis who renounce terrrorism, and among Salafis, they are actually the majority. In that respect, they are very much like Evangelical Christians: They are ultra-conservative and they will go to great lengths to convert you to their faith, but they are not violent. Terrorists like ISIS are a minority inside a minority, and it is quite accurate to compare them to the violent fringe of the Christian right (say KKK, say Eric Rudolph).

    What is plain wrong is the comparison to the Third Reich. ISIS was never voted into power the way the Nazis were. Most people who live under ISIS rule simply have no choice, because the alternative is being barrel-bombed by Assad’s troops or paying a lot of money to be able to flee to Europe.

    To everyone who would like to discuss the relation of ISIS-like terrorism to Islam, I have a request: Know what you are talking about. If you bring up salafism, please know about Salafi ideology and its differing strands. If you bring up Sayyid Qutb, please read him up first, because although a member of the Muslim Brothers, he wasn’t one of their founders. If you repeat the Salafi claim that their particular interpretation of Islam is “the Islam practiced at the time of Muhammad—a form of Islam that is innately violent, brutal, and utterly intolerant”, please know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) never advocated suicide attacks, the slaughtering of civilians, the stoning of women or the destruction of cultural landmarks. Neither does the Qur’an teach that Islam is constantly at war with the rest of the world, as the 8th century doctrince of the dar al-harb/dar al-islam would have it. On the contrary, the Qur’an teaches that there must be no compulsion in religion.

    The world has to stand together against ISIS. There is no other way. To achieve this, we must do the utmost to understand each other.

  39. AJ:

    “That’s nice that this is your first thought.”

    What makes you think this was my first thought? Are you under the impression that I am chained to this blog and that I automatically blurp out the first thing that comes to my mind? You might note the time and date at which this entry was posted, and compare it to the timeline of events; it might suggest that this, in fact, was not a first thought.

    This wasn’t my first thought. It was, however, the thought I wished to say publicly on my blog.

    I’m not especially persuaded by your “middle ground” argument here, AJ. I don’t know about other liberals, but my reminding folks that Muslims are like they are rather than like murdering terrorists hardly seems like an extreme position, or one that one should move off to find a “middle ground” with. It’s not even a particularly liberal position, merely a sane and compassionate one that as it happens is also an actual reflection of the real world.

    What “middle ground” would you like to me to reflect, AJ, rather than this one?

  40. @keithrl: My admittedly unscientific sampling indicates that well over 1% of Christians sympathize with/approve of violence, as well. (source: my Facebook feed.)

  41. I think those of you suggesting attacking the bad people are missing something fundamental: The bad people are not the problem. The bad people are the symptom. The bad *ideas* are the problem, and when you attack the bad people, you strengthen the bad ideas.

    You cannot end the idea that two groups of people cannot coexist by killing members of another group.

  42. Seebs, that is a wonderfully insightful comment. I have concluded much the same. Humans have a kind of psychological inability to simultaneously hate and see other people as people. Part of the process which leads to hate and violence is inevitably some process of dehumanization or othering. There is a way to provide a point at which people can “opt out” of those processes before they go too far, but these require intervention and education, not more killing. The notion that we can disagree without making one another existentially less is a crucial step on the path toward peace.

  43. Thank you for the words, Mr. S.Well said.

    To Michael Enright; pretty sure the Sharia court thing you mention is typical sensationalist journalism – as far as I can make out, (if they exist) they have less legal standing than the average residents’ committee. Please check your facts before stirring the pot.

  44. An informed, reasonable, and very interesting debate happening over at Foreign Policy (dot com) on the subject of Islam and violence. Well worth the free registration to check it out. (Also some utter dreck on how we should promptly invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter, but hey — no website is perfect.)

  45. Mr. Scalzi:

    Someone already brought up the Pew Forum survey, which is (AFAIK) the latest credible survey on attitudes towards extremism in the Muslim world. (There are many more less-than-credible ones, however. Polling in the Muslim world is even harder than polling here.) From that survey:

    In most countries where the question was asked, roughly three-quarters or more Muslims reject suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians. And in most countries, the prevailing view is that such acts are never justified as a means of defending Islam from its enemies. Yet there are some countries in which substantial minorities think violence against civilians is at least sometimes justified. This view is particularly widespread among Muslims in the Palestinian territories (40%), Afghanistan (39%), Egypt (29%) and Bangladesh (26%)

    29% of Egyptians (at least in 2013) supported violence against civilians. That figure alone should be deeply troubling. If that weren’t disturbing enough, there are the surveys showing 16% of French citizens supporting the Daesh: – and while that survey may not be the best, it is consistent with enough others to see a trend.

    And again, it proves the point. Of course there are such things as moderate Muslims. Acknowledging that fact gets us nowhere—it distracts us from the fact that there are extremely violent, dangerous, and radical Islamists who have pledged to kill us and have demonstrated the capability of carrying that out. Middle Eastern politics are all about constantly shifting alliances, groups falling into and out of each other’s orbits, and constant change. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t identify and react to a particular ideology as the problem.

    I encourage you and all your readers to understand what the tenets of Salafism actually are—a good place to start is “Suicide Bombers in Iraq: The Strategy and Ideology of Martyrdom” by Mohammed M. Hafez or “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright. One is a view of terrorism looking from the inside of the Arab world, and the other is view from the outside looking in. You can also read Sayyid Qutb, but unless you’ve had at least a few classes in Islamic theology a lot of it doesn’t make much sense.

    Mr. Scalzi’s point writ large is correct, but also not particularly useful. No, we should not blame all Muslims for the act of a minority. But that’s not what the vast majority of people are doing. I don’t think we’re in a religious war with Islam, and it’s not particularly useful to frame it that way. However, groups like the Daesh have openly and plainly declared war on us.

    It is certainly easier to believe that we can defeat the Daesh just be hugging a Muslim. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not going to say “you know what, let’s all be friends” because someone in Cleveland smiles at their Muslim neighbor. Doing that may well be all and good for a whole host of different reasons, but it won’t stop the Daesh from crucifying Christians, raping Yazidi women to death, and burning their fellow Muslims alive.

    It is much easier and far less dangerous to criticize one’s own people than it is to confront the reality that there is a large and apparently growing group of radicals with the means, motive, and opportunity to kill us at random. But if there is one lesson we need to learn from the last 15 years of our history its that we cannot cling to those comfortable illusions. To do so is to let more attacks continue to happen. That will involve more people dying because we’re too busy criticizing each other than identifying and stopping groups like the Daesh. Our focus and our moral opprobrium should be against the Daesh, not each other or all Muslims as a whole.

  46. And can we please stop this facile and dishonest comparison to Westboro, as if they were the worst of the worst that Christianity has to offer, and the closest comparison to Christian terrorists? In the US, we have tolerated (and at times encouraged) Christian terrorism for a very long time. Setting aside the historic activities of the KKK and of organized anti-Semites, in recent times organized far-right Christian groups vandalized abortion clinics, stalked and outed patients, put doctors’ names on hit lists, and murdered ‘abortionists’ for years and not much was done because many people (including the then-administration) sympathized with their cause, and because they were doin’ it for Jesus. There is still Christian terrorism directed at “unbelievers” – ask any of the Sikhs who were beaten or had their houses of worship burned because They Look Like Them Muslims, or for that matter, actual Muslims, whose attempts to build mosques are met with everything from fake zoning laws to outright vandalism and death threats.

    There are still plenty of places in the US where it would be unsafe for me and my family to live, because the only way to fit in with the community would be to pretend to be Christian or at least meekly shut up when Christians put government force behind their beliefs. One of those places, I’m sorry to say, is my grandmother’s hometown.

    And of course there is plenty of violent Christian extremism outside of the US; the Hutus, as our host notes, as well as the government of Uganda attempting to impose state execution of LGBTs in part because of the belief that homosexuality is “un-Christian”. Encouraged, of course, by American activists. (Before his new gig as a consultant to Uganda, Scott Lively was an instrumental part of the anti-LGBT movement in Oregon, and wrote a book called The Pink Swastika purporting to show that the Third Reich was secretly a homosexual conspiracy.)

    Terrorism and extremism, and the selective warping of religion to justify secular power are neither peculiar to, nor a necessary result of, Islam. Pretending otherwise is nothing more than an excuse for Two Minutes’ Hate.

  47. @JayReding

    You’re palming a card there. Your quote makes it clear that the percentage you’re quoting feel that violence against civilians is sometimes justified. I would note that this puts them in the same category as some several members of the current, and former US executive and legislature. In fact, I believe that various military organisations are accepting of this necessity, this “collateral damage” shall we call it – it sounds like a good term for it.

    But you are implicitly basing your argument on the assumption that the percentage that study is talking about themselves are seeking to commit violence or that they always feel that violence against civilians is justified.

    You are misinterpreting the data you yourself are citing. I suggest you take a less jaundiced look at it again.

  48. What I’d like to see (and it may have happened I don’t know) is a very public debate among the many factions of the Muslin faithful so that folks like me can be educated as to the realities of this religion in modern day life. What in the Koran do they follow and what do they not?
    I am a very tolerant atheist that believes people should follow the spirituality of their heart how ever they see fit.

  49. Sorry to nitpick, but that’s the second reference to Hutus, and since violence in Burundi may very well erupt in earnest soon (potentially dragging Rwanda in with it), it’s worth nipping any misconceptions in the bud. While the majority of Hutus are indeed Christian, so are the majority of Tutsis. Religious extremism played no significant role in the Rwandan genocide. Many Christian religious leaders were involved, but the ideology inspiring the violence was not religious in nature.

  50. This argument strikes me as very similar to the “Not all men…” defense that arises when the subject is sexism. It’s not helpful then and is of limited use in this context as well.

    Few people are actually calling out all 1.2B Muslims, but is it illegitimate for people to be concerned about the dangers posed by a few hundred thousand, or even million people, who passively or actively support an interpretation of a religion that seems bent on wreaking havoc on Western Civilization—women and the LGBTQ community especially? If not, at what threshold would it merit concern?

    What terrifies some of us is that the horrendous actions we witnessed last night seem to enjoy broader support than one might imagine:

    According to a report from CBS News 28% of Britain’s Muslim population—or ~400,000 people—would like to see England become a fundementalist Islamic State. (

    According to Newsweek, 16% of the French population supports ISIS. (

    What level of support for honor killings, FGM, and other atrocities must there be before the religion can be criticized like any other ideology?

    And to address one of the examples you provided

    + The KKK example is surprisingly instructive. The group was actively targeted by law enforcement (using guns) and cultural leaders (using mockery), transforming it from a potent political (and terrorist actor) into a still dangerous, but by no means prevalent sub-culture that is looked on scornfully by the overwhelming majority of the country.

  51. Due to my own peculiar mindset, I know a bit more about terrorism than most people. One of the (usually unmentioned) theories behind terrorism is that terror radicalizes the situation, that it erodes the moderates and the uncommitted, forcing them into one camp or the other. When used against a government, the intent is to force the government into extreme and oppressive measures that act to force people to join the terrorist organization, be “fellow travelers” or act as either passive or active support out of pure self defense.

    One of the major red flags is when a movement considers its principles and philosophy to be more important than human lives.

    It is one thing to kill someone because you think they are a threat or because you hate them. It is quite another thing to kill a bunch of total strangers as a political statement.

  52. Jay Reding:

    Meanwhile, here in 2015, 49% of Iowa Republican polled don’t think Islam should be legal in the United States, which does make one wonder how those polled planned to deal with practitioners of the religion when/if it were outlawed. Fortunately we won’t find out; seems unlikely we’ll amend the Constitution.

    My point here is that it is not surprising to find a low-information, intolerant minority of people espousing bigotry in any nation.

    To that point, I’m not entirely sure your assertion “we should not blame all Muslims for the act of a minority. But that’s not what the vast majority of people are doing” is as cut and dried as you appear to think it is. A mere sliver less than half of polled GOP members in one of our states seem to be ready to throw the proverbial baby of Islam out with the bathwater of terrorism. It’s one state and one political party. But I’m willing to bet if you poll more extensively, you’d see similar opinions. This is a separate question from “are Muslims in general to blame for ISIS,” so I will be the first to point out the answer for one question does not equate to another. But I’m suggesting that the majority for agreeing to that question, if polled, might not be as vast as we both would hope.

    I certainly think you and I are in agreement that ISIS and an underlying structure of religious intolerance around it are a present problem which needs to be addressed, militarily and otherwise. Where we part ways appears to be on the extent of that underlying structure, and the extent to which our own bigotries present an issue with resolving the problem.

    A Concerned Feminist:

    “Few people are actually calling out all 1.2B Muslims”

    You’re not spending much time on Twitter or Facebook, it appears. Or hearing what a number of prominent US politicians are saying.

    Much of your argument I’ve addressed via my discussion with Mr. Reding above. Beyond that, the framing of your questions very much appears that you are asking for all Muslims to stand accused of actions a tiny minority of them practice. Pay more attention to what you’re asking and how you’re asking it, please.

    mark baczynski:

    I assume “Muslin” is a typo.

    Second, why is the burden on Muslims to educate you? Why not educate yourself? Your local library is likely to have books and information on Islam and Islam in America (and if it doesn’t it can probably locate that information via interlibrary loan). And of course there is Google. At the very least before you trouble Muslims with your questions, you can answer some of your own most basic questions, so that when you ask them questions, they are of some weight and nuance.

  53. This argument strikes me as very similar to the “Not all men…” defense that arises when the subject is sexism.

    Then either you don’t understand the #notallmen problem, or you in fact believe that Islam overall is a problem.

    “Not all men”, in reaction to discussions of widespread sexism, is a derailment and an attempt to reframe the discussion to one about how in fact many men are good people – when the actual subject is about a pervasive, systemic problem, such that pointing to individual examples of decency is an ineffective rebuttal.

    So if you’re comparing this to #notallmen, what you are in effect saying is that Islam is inherently problematic, widespread throughout the faith, and results in bad things, with the good will of individual Muslims being irrelevant, in the same way that male privilege and sexism are endemic to US culture such that an individual dude’s cry of “but *I* wouldn’t do that!” is not a real response.

  54. I live in the City of London, where today hundreds of thousands of people have been enjoying the Lord Mayor’s Show, and celebrating its 800th anniversary following the signing of the Magna Carta, which set out as a first attempt to establish the freedom we now take to be our birthright.

    Many of the people taking part in, and watching, the procession are Muslims, since London is a vast multicultural city; they value freedom just as much as members of other religions, or no religion, value it. Tonight, instead of the usual spectacular fireworks display, Tower Bridge and the London Eye are lit in the colours of the Tricolor, symbolising both our respect for those suffering and our determination that we will never give up the freedom that our ancestors fought for.

    Isis, or whatever it’s calling itself at the moment, is a tiny fraction of Muslims; the atrocities in Paris reflect that fact. They have to go for soft targets because they don’t have the people and the skills that would let them go for hard targets, like the hundreds of thousands of people enjoying the Lord Mayor’s show today.

    I do wonder sometimes whether anonymous people frothing at the mouth on the Net about the dangers of Isis are, in fact, members of Isis churning out propaganda. They are certainly not displaying any signs of rational thought processes…

  55. Personally, I don’t think anyone from the U.S. or U.K. has any business insisting that 20% of Muslims are terrorist sympathizers when we have folks like UKIP, the BNP, and countless well-organized Christian militia groups. Hell, the radical right has managed to take over an entire U.S. political party, which has now offered up a dozen-plus warmongers, bigots, and Dominionists as major presidential candidates. If we’re going to demand that every Muslim answer for the deeds of their tiny violent minority, we had best be ready to explain why we haven’t yet done anything to eradicate Stormfront and the KKK, and why 30% of Americans think we should be a Christian nation.

  56. @bob : Clearly, ISIS poses a danger to your nation, and at this moment it may be difficult to think one greater. But there is one larger potential danger: your reaction to their attacks. As we in the US found out, the urge to take action after such a horrific event can overwhelm the ability to work out exactly just what actions to take.

    I invite you to learn from our experience.


    Bob, Here’s the speech given by the French ambassador to the UN opposing the invasion of Iraq by the US in 2003.

    If the US had bothered learning from France’s experience, ISIS would not be here. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, thousands of Americans and now at least 128 French citizens would not have died as a result.

  57. The sad thing to me is how few people have even a remote understanding of why they do these things. People don’t blow themselves up because they hate us. They blow themselves up because they want their side or cause to benefit from it. And, the fact of the matter is: terrorism works. In fact, it works incredibly well. Osama Bin Laden was successful beyond his wildest dreams and this latest round of attacks will likely be nearly as successful. And, those who lump all Islam with the terrorists are helping more than anyone else.

    Why do they do these horrible acts? Is it because they hate us? Actually, they could care less about us. ISIS wants their own country. They don’t want it here, they want it in the middle east. That’s the whole idea. To do so, they are fighting a war on two fronts with a relatively small force. And, who are they fighting? They are fighting other Muslims. If we were not in the picture, they would have been destroyed long ago. Nobody would want to support their tactics and methods. Muslims would not rush to them to help rape and kill other Muslims. So, they are smart. A few very low budget terrorist operations and they turn this into a war against the US and its allies. And the west does exactly what they want. American drones kill thousands, Guantanamo Bay still holds people with no trial and no rights, brutal dictators get lots of support and ISIS is the hero, fighting US air power, Assad, a puppet of the Russians, and a corrupt Iraqi government set up by the US.

    And their greatest success? Politicians cowering in fear. Lindsey Graham calls ISIS an “existential threat” and warns of American cities in flames. David Cameron has said much the same thing. Republicans debate how much we should increase our already massive military budget while screaming about deficits. Wow, a few terrorist attacks and suddenly 20,000 ISIS fighters are a force that threatens our very existence? So, we will throw billions or trillions of dollars and thousands of soldiers into fighting them on their home turf. We should get the heck out of there and let the countries in the region handle ISIS.

  58. Thank you. I get just the tiniest, faintest taste of this, when people accuse all Jews of being responsible for every outrage in the occupied territories. I can barely imagine what Muslims go through every time somebody who claims to be Muslim kills a bunch of people — and my imagination for horrors is unfortunately pretty good. :(

  59. Jay Reding says:

    It is certainly easier to believe that we can defeat the Daesh just be hugging a Muslim. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not going to say “you know what, let’s all be friends” because someone in Cleveland smiles at their Muslim neighbor. Doing that may well be all and good for a whole host of different reasons, but it won’t stop the Daesh from crucifying Christians, raping Yazidi women to death, and burning their fellow Muslims alive.

    Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to stop the Daesh from doing anything. I might meet a Muslim shop assistant, speak to one of the Pakistani Muslims my brother works with, or run into one of the Muslim students I’ve worked with in the past next week. Should I ask them if they condone the Paris attacks? Or should I assume that they don’t, because they’re not arseholes, unless they explicitly do so?

    Which approach, going forward and multplied by hundreds of casual interactions (and in theory by thousands of people) is most likely to lower support for Islamic extremists, and violent extremists in general?

  60. According to a report from CBS News 28% of Britain’s Muslim population—or ~400,000 people—would like to see England become a fundementalist Islamic State. (

    And what percentage of US Christians do you suppose would like to see the US become a Christian state? For that matter, what percentage of them /already/ think and operate as though that we’re true?

  61. I keep on hearing the shaking voice of one of the surivors of Bataclan in the aftermath, someone who saw the face of the shooters inside the club – they were not masked, he said, and one of them looked “so young”.

    It was a nightclub, and a rock concert, and soemone (maybe this same guy) spoke of tripping over a badly wounded and heavily bleeding young girl on his way out of the venue (he hauled her out. No way of knowing what happened to her afterwards.)

    CHildren. Children killing children.

    They’re poisoning the wells. SOMEBODY started it – the parents’ generation, the grandparents’ generation, take your pick go as far back as you want to – somebody started it, and now children are killing children in the name of something they probably know only as repeated platitudes.

    I’m hearsick over all of this. But I also register that France, and Paris, because they are France and Paris, are getting the lion’s share of media attention on this. On the same day in Lebanon 44 people were killed in a shooting spree, and you’d have to DIG through thenews to find word of it. Is it because in Lebanon it’s such old news that nobody even registers death any more? WHo started THAT?

    And more importantly, when does it end? How many generations does this need to take to burn itself out?…

  62. John Scalzi: I study Arabic language, culture and history at University, although my primary field of study is Linguistics. Yes, terminology matters. It became popular in our circles, particularly among Arab students, here in the U.S. to use “daesh” precisely because it has the effect of delegitmizing and distancing the speaker from the group. It lacks the kind of authority that a title like “the Islamic State” implies, and removes some of the cognitive dissonance in that most do not consider this entity to be either Islamic or a state. Is it derogatory? Perhaps, but it remains an accurate description of the stated goals of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Their reaction to the use of the term is like someone taking offense to being called a “murderer” when they are openly taking credit for killing.

  63. @Scalzi – I was going to make a snide crack about the American Religious Right’s own bigotry and violence, but….

    Instead, I think I’ll just repost the link to your blog post on Facebook, because I feel you get it in one.

  64. While I accept without hesitation that the vast majority of Muslims are appalled by what happened in Paris, it’s impossible for an impartial observer not to notice that the proportion of Muslims who oppose exactly the same kinds of acts when the victims are Israelis drops dramatically. I question the sincerity and moral consistency of someone who asserts different values depending on the nationality or creed of the victims.

  65. We’re allowing murderers to lay claim to a whole religion. We don’t do that with christian murderers, no matter how prolific or idealistic their rhetoric sounds. Why do we do that for these guys?

  66. While it’s not necessarily the best translation, and the next part of the verse basically says “but not their leaders”, I do find this part of La Marsellies relevant. I don’t want violence and reaction to induce further radicalization.

    Wish I had a good plan for avoiding that…

    Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
    Bear or hold back your blows
    Spare these sad victims
    That they regret taking up arms against us

  67. Claudio Puviani: I agree, and the majority of conversations I have participated in initially recognize the tragedies of what Israelis suffer from terrorism. Sympathies wane, however, in proportion to the Israeli response. I see it as likely that if France begins profiling Muslims, arresting children, destroying homes, and adopting a national rhetoric of racism that public sympathies for the French will wane in a similar manner. Those who sympathize with the victims of terror attacks regardless of ethnicity, nationality or religion tend to be largely composed of those who equally sympathize with the victims of unjust marginalization and occupation.

  68. I didn’t know about the word ‘daesh’ and its biting punnery. But I’m down with this and will start using it immediately. Words matter and they can be powerful and peaceful weapons. But how do you pronounce it? Day-esh? Die-esh? Dash?

  69. Can’t imagine anyone saying this any better or more clearly. Well done indeed. May many ears hear your message!

    I can only hope that like the Crusades, this time will come to be seen as a regrettable period of history remembered for the lessons it teaches, not as yet another forgettable incident in a far-too-long series of excuses for pointless crusades. My heart goes out to the French, but also to the many innocent Muslims who will suffer the aftershocks.

    Some years back, there was an SF short story in which a stand-up comic drove a group of terrorists into apoplexy by lampooning their actions — without slandering the majority who superficially shared some of the historical characteristics of the terrorists. (If memory serves, it didn’t end well for the comic.) Can’t remember the title or author, but seems eerily prophetic in hindsight.

  70. Thought provoking as always, although it probably shouldn’t be. I’m an educated guy. I’m dragging three post secondary degrees around. I spent time in undergrad taking multiple classes on Islam, comparative religious studies, and middle eastern history. I spent a lot of free time reading additional material on the crusades and the centuries that followed in the middle east, north africa, spain, southern europe and the mediteranean from writers who were christian, muslim, and none of the above.

    And yet yesterday evening I found myself thinking “what the f*** is wrong with those people”, and I’d be lying if said I meant just the murdering a*******. I should know better. I DO know better. And yet… I don’t know any muslims. It’s so easy to slip into that lazy, wrongheaded thinking, even when you know better. Hence, this was thought provoking, even though it shouldn’t have been.

    Also, as a christian, and a guy who went to a university that had the luck to be visited by the Westboro mob, I have no problems with your comparison at all. People I knew watched those morons and asked me how I could be a christian. My answer was that I didn’t think the Westboro mob had anything to do with the God I knew. Which is pretty much the same response the followers of Islam who condemn acts like these give when they get a chance to rise above the grinding noise of the endless news cycle.

    Thanks for writing. Sorry you’re losing a lot of your weekend to patrolling the comments.

  71. [Deleted because Mark Steyn is about as reliable a commenter on this topic as he is on global warming. Please do better – JS]

  72. thomasmhewlett: it contains the sound “ayn” which is difficult for non-native speakers. Think of it as an “a” that travels back and gets briefly stuck in the throat before returning as more of an “e”. If you are familiar with hip-hop culture, its similar to the sound that begins the word “aight”. So:


    for those who know IPA: [daʕish],

    and for those who don’t:

  73. “If you demand they answer and apologize for ISIS, I will be more than happy to go down a list of all the things you can be identified as and demand you apologize and answer for the actions of the worst of that segment of society. I suspect you will get tired of this very quickly.”

    How the fucketty fuck did this simple, cogent argument not occur to me at any time in the last fifteen years? I am so mad at myself right now. Once again, thank you, John.

  74. “My thought is, come out, good muslims, come out and show your outrage for the terroism done in the name of Islam. ”

    Well the problem is not that they don’t show outrage, the problem is that you chose to ignore their outrage, there are millions of Muslims actually fighting terror, the vast majority of terror victims are in fact Muslims, this week alone there has been at least 4 other bombings against Muslims yet you probably never heard of it. There has been hundreds of Muslim fighters who lost their life fighting terror, because guess what? right now only Muslims are fighting ISIS, the rest of the world watching or just bombing from 5000 feet.

    Here are few links for you so you know that Muslims are not silent, they are the only ones fighting terror. There is a big difference between actions and cheap talk

  75. @jayreding

    What you’re missing is that our reaction (typically overreaction) to attacks like this helps to bring ISIS new recruits. We know that this is part of their strategy because…THEY’VE SAID SO!

    Mainstream opinion in the West has failed to understand this from the beginning. They assume Muslim terrorists are dumb cavemen, and so they do not see that they are actually very savvy in the ways that they manipulate and inflame public opinion in the West.

    We must not destroy our free society in order to save it.

  76. I’m going to leave the previous comment alone, since it’s sure to be malleted, and go read the Quran that I bought several years ago, in protest, when that moron Terry Jones in Florida was promoting the burning of them. It seems like a good occasion to spend a little time with a good book.

  77. BW:

    My congratulations to you for not responding to a clearly malletable comment.

    This is a reminder to all and sundry that when a comment is clearly bigoted and/or trollish, leave it alone. I’ll come for it presently.

  78. Thank you very much as a Muslim and big fan of yours. It’s very meaningful to read those words from you. I wish my own countryman (I’m from Turkey by the way) as open-minded as you. Because Turkish people, muslims and non-muslims, literally each eat other here. It’s very sad.

    We, as Muslims, hate ISIS. We’re fighting them for years now. But they keep doing sinful things and using our names, our religion for their unforgivable actions. Our religion forbids us to kill another human being. Tell us to be good each other, don’t do any harm to anyone, whatever their religion is. So who are they, these ISIS people, who call themselves as Muslims? They’re not…

    I hope your words reach lots of people, lots of right ears. We’re really sorry what happened in France. I’m so sorry… I hope and pray that this is the end of ISIS crimes.

    Thank you sincerely.

  79. @Seebs — I like what you said and how you put it. Thank you.

    (By the way, I’m Ben W., but a different person than the BW commenter.)

  80. Luis at 4:31 pm – seconded. I’ll be memorizing that paragraph of Mr. Scalzi’s for future use myself. Sadly, as I’d rather it weren’t necessary, but with gratitude for having such a beautifully clear and succinct response to asshattery.

  81. The Peshmerga and others, with some help from (mostly) US airstrikes, are pushing back Daesh in northern Iraq and eastern Syria. The Paris attacks and the Sinai Metrojet bombings are attempts to distract the West and/or get revenge for its setbacks.

    The hard part is not to overreact. The US invasion of Iraq cost trillions of dollars (and ponzi-ing that debt through false asset growth strongly contributed to the 2008 recession), thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and made millions homeless and radicalized quite a lot of Iraqis and others into hating Americans and their allies, which is how Daesh came into being. The only lasting solutions can come from the locals, and they do not play well together. The Shi’ites mostly hate the Sunnis and vice versa, and none of them like the Kurds, the Yazidis, the Turkmen, etc. We can’t just pick a side and ignore their crimes. We need to promote human lives and human rights everywhere for everyone. We shouldn’t expect quick solutions. We won the Cold War by containment, not military misadventures. We need to be ready to help when people are ready for help.

    We can mourn the dead French, and the Lebanese from the day before, and the Russians from a couple weeks back, and the Turks in Ankara a week or so before that, and civilians killed in Iraq and Syria every day. Please let’s not shovel a bunch of American soldiers onto the pyre the way Bush did, and let’s also try not to kill a bunch of Iraqi and Syrian civilians in the crossfire of any revenge against Daesh.

  82. There might be 200k ISIS fighters spread over the planet. There are 1.2 billion Muslims. That means ISIS is 0.02% of the total muslim population. ISIS is a threat, but a managable threat. But they are trying to incite the West to attack all Islam and make the war wider, change it from a 200k problem to a 1.2billion problem.

    ISIS knows they cant do anything themselves unless they can outrage the West into doing something profoundly stupid.

    So to the bigots who cant seem to tell ISIS from Islam as a whole, who keep saying “yes but” when the conversation turns to the difference between 0.02 percent and rhe rest of Islam, who keep saying they havent heard Islamic leaders condemn these attacks and then plug their ears and hum when they do, who are for all intents and purposes playing right into the plans of ISIS to get the West to declare war on all Islam, I just want to say, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart: fuck you, you stupid, ignorant, redneck, bigotted fucks.

    Seriously. Fucknuts like you got us into Iraq over WMDs that were never there. It cost a million lives, a trillion dollars, and created ISIS. And here you are again, shouting something about how you have the electrolyes plants need, trying to double down on your cosmic level ignorance.


  83. I concluded a while back that the people who are comfortable dehumanizing their enemies are all basically in agreement. The people who think that it’s great when gay people die, and the people who think it’s great when Nazis die, and the people who feel that way about any other set of people, whatever their reasoning? They all *agree*, fundamentally, that only some of the humans are really people. They are just arguing over who’s on which list.

    Say it, Seebs! And most of us end up on the not-human list, I’m afraid.

    Charles Owen:

    They are fighting other Muslims. If we were not in the picture, they would have been destroyed long ago. Nobody would want to support their tactics and methods. Muslims would not rush to them to help rape and kill other Muslims.

    While you are making a decent point about that it’s not about them hating us per se, this is flat out wrong and does not reflect the actual conflict with ISIS. Having established a foothold in Syria without any involvement of Western forces, ISIS pushed into Iraq. And the Iraq army, despite training and supplies, weren’t paid enough in the current government mess and threw down their arms and retreated. If it weren’t for Western forces and Kurdish forces — if we had left them to themselves, ISIS would have taken Baghdad.

    There are a whole bunch of tribal governing and Islamic sect rivalries in Iraq, including the complicated situation of the Kurds, that were causing the Iraqui government to fall apart and Muslims to fight other Muslims and groups of Muslims to throw in with ISIS again long before the Western forces came in on the scene. The reality is that various groups of Muslims kill and rape other groups of Muslims all the time. That doesn’t stop them getting support from allies, Muslim and non. The West is not making Muslims kill each other (although we’ve often helped.) They’ve been doing it for thousands of years.

    And they are not alone in that, today or in the past. Every group of humans with shared identities of one kind or another rape and kill other sects of that same identity, as well as those outside the identity, and find allies within and without the identity. In fact, when it comes to atrocities, ISIS is actually only middling horrible and fairly small.

    We need to get over the idea that Muslims or Muslims in the Middle East are some sort of strange, separate creation oh so different from us with a philosophy so hard to understand, rather than what they are — regular humans with perfectly usual human beliefs of a wide variety. A large portion of the Muslim population ARE Westerners, are “us.” And a few of those Western Muslims are white people who went to join ISIS for reasons of their own. They are individuals who make decisions, not aliens. Leaving them to their own devices is not going to help those in the Middle East, nor is it a realistic view of our global interlinked population and the diaspora of refugees. Isolationism doesn’t work anymore than does a bomb them all philosophy.

    ISIS is losing. Which is why they are branching out into acts of terrorism outside their territory — the bringing down of the Russian plane in Egypt, the attacks in Paris. The level of threat that we face is no more than what we faced before (the members of ISIS having been attached to various other terrorist and rebel groups before forming ISIS.) And when ISIS is broken up into many more splinters, the problems will be the same as they were before. Those problems are not going to be solved by either occupacy by the West or the absence of the West.

  84. Mark: “And yet yesterday evening I found myself thinking ‘what the f*** is wrong with those people’, and I’d be lying if said I meant just the murdering a*******.”

    I lack your great educational advantages — not even one undergraduate degree to my name — but while I did think something like “what the fuck is wrong with those people” when I heard of the Paris attacks, it never occurred to me to mean “all Muslims” by “those people.” I meant the people who did this thing. This is one reason why I sometimes pick on people, especially on Facebook, who speak of “they” in a vaguely global manner, like “They’re ruining Star Wars!” or “They’re trying to take over” (where the context doesn’t make clear who “they” are, or what they’re trying to take over). Just who do you mean by “they,” I ask them. They generally get all pissy, and sometimes I think I’m being excessively anal about it. But then I see remarks like yours, and I think that more people should be that anal about it, because very often people generalize wildly, and when they get irrational enough, I can almost see the “they” morphing into “the International Homosexual Space Jews Conspiracy in the Pay of the Rockefellers.”

    I don’t see what is so difficult about recognizing that the misdeeds of some are not necessarily the deeds of all of a group, especially when one knows (as you say you do) a lot about Islam. You must know, better than most people, something of the range of cultures and attitudes among Muslims around the world, and that the Paris killers are not representative of all of them. I think that most people are quite capable of this recognition about their own group, though that’s less a sign of rationality than a weasely defensive move, in the mode of #NotAllMen, #AllLivesMatter, and the like. I think it basically accepts the They-All-Do-It stereotype, while still trying to carve out an except for one’s own side.

    And yet I’m also wary of the reflexive NotAllMuslims move, for similar reasons. I recently read a book called Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think by John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, published by Gallup Press in 2008, using international polling data, and while I learned a lot from it, I also was not entirely reassured. It appears, for example, that the percentage of Muslims around the world who believe that Islam should be the basis for society and government is almost exactly the same as the percentage of American Christians who think that the Bible should be the basis for society and government, about 50 percent in each case. I think that’s alarming in both cases. Muslims are no worse as a group than Christians on many issues, but that’s not saying much. I don’t have any numbers for atheists, but I don’t assume that we’re much better, if at all. Esposito and Mogahed’s book ought to be read by everyone who generalizes ignorantly about Islam (or Christianity), whether positively or negatively. But I don’t consider any religion to be positive overall, so I reserve the right to criticize Islam just as I criticize Christianity, Judaism, paganism, and atheism. If I actually criticize Islam less often, it’s because I know less about it, and I prefer that my critiques be well-informed.

  85. I posted my thoughts on my blog at:
    Paris – Solidarité
    By Ben W. | BlueCatShip

    Hint: Humans are a single species, one of many species who share a little blue-green oasis in a vast empty desert. To “share” is a key word there.

  86. Some years back, there was an SF short story in which a stand-up comic drove a group of terrorists into apoplexy by lampooning their actions — without slandering the majority who superficially shared some of the historical characteristics of the terrorists. (If memory serves, it didn’t end well for the comic.) Can’t remember the title or author, but seems eerily prophetic in hindsight.

    I suspect you’re referring to “Very Proper Charlies” by Dean Ing, written in 1978.

  87. John, you have to run for congress and then a few years later run for president. You would be SO much better than any of the clowns on either side. And I hear you have an empty seat in your district?

  88. I agree that “blaming all Muslims” is wrong, but too many line up in sympathy with the “nut cases.” *Just* as they do with WBC/etc. Too often, when _any_ media talks to a “Prominent Muslim,” they try to excuse ISIS/Al Quaeda/etc. Whether it’s “fear of retaliation,” or inability to see a difference between *personal* Jihad, and Public terrorism, doesn’t matter. What _matters_ is the *actions.*
    As a Charismatic Christian, I understand the “personal jihad” concept. As a Christian, I understand wanting political systems, to “conform” to religious values; *However,* I am also *commanded* to be an _*example*_ to the world. To so powerfully _live_ my religious values that others are converted.
    Unlike what I have seen of the Q’uran, which depending on the “teachings” of the Imam for strictness, *demands* that all be either _of Islam_ or subject to it, with the _how_ subject to interpretation. IOW, “conform or die,” and how that is achieved (personal example or conquest) decided by the *Imam.* This is reinforced by the “religious declaration” that *the original language of the Q’uran is the ‘perfect one,’ and never to be ‘translated.'”
    Since no one _living_ actually speaks that “language,” just as no one speaks an _understandable_ version of 14th Century English (Actually, the “drift” is greater), it becomes a problem So, what the Q’uran _actually_ “says,” changes from Imam to Imam. Each choosing their *personal* “translation” of the wording. That means *no one, anywhere* can say. “My wording and phrasing is the true version.”

  89. A response from someone living in France:

    And here’s what I wrote as my response to that, on Facebook, where I saw it referenced, where every second person is currently sporting the French Flag SOlidarity Overlay over their profile pic:

    I probably wouldn’t have put it in quite those terms – but this, basically, is why I haven’t rushed to paint the French flag over my FB profile picture. I Understand the impulse but it proves nothing (for me anyway) to suddenly stare at the world through French-flag-covered spectacles, not when so many other people, elsewhere, everywhere, are dying every day. Others have called out the discrepancy between the outpouring on social media on the subject of Paris… which is beyond horrible… and Beirut, which happened 24 hours before Paris, a bombing atrocity in which 44 people (the last count I saw) died, and which is *no less horrible* but I saw no Lebanese flags anywhere commemorating THOSE dead. It may help others to wear the flag on the face, as it were, as an expression of their feelings… but I have said what I have said on social media. I continue to say it. I will continue to say it long after this particular incarnation of the French Flag Over Your Face phase is over. If we were honest we could change the flag we drape over our mugshots every day to commemorate deaths by bullet or explosion, or change our profile pic every day to show the face of a victim cut down in the flower of their life, in memoriam. But here, for once, I’ll reverse it. Speak out, don’t rest on an image. TELL, don’t show. For once. Tell it. Tell it ALL.

    I’m sorry. None of those who have put that flag overlay up will keep it forever – and some won’t even keep it very long. But the stuff that is said – that is spoken – that is talked about – that might stick around longer. That might start a dialogue. That might spark a solution. I just don’t like flag waving as a symbol of anything, outrage included.

    I’d rather donate to the Red Cross, and keep talking. Keep speaking out. Keep remembering THIS outrage, and the ones that came before it, and the ones that are inevitably still coming. And it’s the same outrage. It isn’t tied to a single nation’s flag, no matter how heavy that nation’s loss in any given moment of horror.

    I love you, Paris. And I mourn your dead.

    But I don’t forget other blood spilled.And I mourn it also. I mourn it ALL.

    For what it’s worth. One person’s view.

  90. Duncan: You can have at my use of “they” all you like, for the reasons I noted above. But if you go after people for the use of “they” in “they’re ruining star wars”, then I probably agree with those who think you’re being unnecessarily uptight about it. If you’ve never, in an emotional moment, generalized the bad actions of a few to an entire group with whom the few you disapprove of have something in common, I congratulate you. You’re a rare person. As for me, I’m trying. Acknowledging an irrational thought for its irrationality is, in my opinion, a step to banishing the thought process that created it in the first place.

  91. Duncan: To clarify, I guess I might agree with you if the people who say “they’re ruining star wars” are bemoaning the lack of a completely white cast, which apparently is a source of anxiety for some morons out there, although I’d focus less on the use of the word “they” than the underlying idiocy. If the people who say “they’re ruining star wars” are complaining about the existence of cross hilts on a light saber in the upcoming film, then I think you’re being unnecessarily uptight.

  92. [Deleted for highly selective quoting of the Koran to justify deeply questionable conclusions about Muslims. As someone who has actually read the Koran, yeah, don’t do that here. — JS]

  93. @Walter Daniels: As a Christian, you ought to know that Jewish and Christian scholars for centures and even today try to analyze, and disagree over, the meaning of what the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic texts literally say and the historical context of the words and phrases used – and as a result, what the “correct” meaning is. That’s what the Talmudic debates are about, and why your Christian Bible has many, many different versions, ranging from the KJV to the Good News Bible. And Christianity has many denominations and schools of thought about what different parts of the Bible really mean; presumably by identifying yourself as a “Charismatic Christian” you understand that there is not a unified view in the Christian world as to the One True Correct Word, and that there is not Pope of All the Christians who gets to tell all of you exactly what a particular passage says.

    You of course also must be familiar with fellow Christians who misunderstand the meaning of portions of the Bible, either because they don’t understand their historical and linguistic contexts or because they simply prefer to understand or mentally re-write them. (Say, that ‘eye for an eye’ passage as a justification for revenge – in direct opposition to Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness – and in complete disregard of the actual meaning, which is that punishment should not be disproportionate to a crime.)

    So I really don’t understand where you get off tut-tutting at Muslims for not having decided on the exact interpretation of every word in the Quran, enforced by a single authority, or for the fact that some Muslims are going to choose to interpret the texts in an ignorant and/or very self-serving way. What’s that passage about the mote in your own eye again?

  94. J. Rutger Madison:

    Thanks, I have! Move along, now.

    Everyone else:

    I’m likely to close up this comment thread in the next hour or so, because I have a hankerin’ to play some video games and don’t want to leave the thread unattended. Don’t worry, I’ll open it back up in the morning.

  95. Since there’s been various general advice here to read up about Islam, allow me to suggest a specific book aimed precisely at the generally ignorant American (in which category I count myself), especially those feared that their Muslim neighbors are all secret terrorists who’ll up and murder them in their beds (I’m not one of those).

    It’s called The Muslim Next Door by Sumbul Ali-Karamali, and while it does have its flaws (which I won’t discuss here) and leaves some questions unaddressed (I won’t do that here, either), I found it generally a thoroughly enlightening book that makes clear that to a Muslim, the terrorists are no less weird outliers who misrepresent the religion they claim to follow than the Klan, who used Christian panoply to justify their terrorism. The only difference is whether the media treat them as exemplars of their religion.

  96. Hi John,

    A few quick points.

    1) I agree. The number of Muslims that participate in these attacks is a small/fractional percentage of the whole.

    That knowledge needs to be tempered with the knowledge that a larger/non-trivial percentage of the whole are fine with such oppression even if they are unlikely to get involved in enforcing it. There are some of that non-trivial percentage in the US. I’ve spoken with a couple of their victims.

    2) We are right and they are wrong. The “we” in this case being western civilization with our liberal/open-minded/tolerant approach to government and society.

    “They” being the folks that seek to impose Islam on the world. I know they lack the numbers to do so, but they can wreak a hell of a lot of damage in the trying.

    3) In January of 2009, we had a much better position from which to work in the “grey zone”. Libya had turned over a previously unknown WMD program. Syria had withdrawn from Lebanon. Iran was cowed. Iraq had their version of representative government in place and was developing a peaceful relationship between the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites. (The trend of terrorism/violence was sharply down at that point.) Afghanistan wasn’t as good, but it was a darned sight better than it is today. Egypt was changing slowly but steadily. Even Saudi Arabia was making incremental movements at constraining their more extreme elements.

    Extremism may not have been fully contained. But the battlefield was sharply tilted towards being in the Middle East.

    Which is precisely where it belongs if we are to have any positive influence in this conflict.

    Since then we have abandoned the field of battle, snatched defeat from jaws of victory, and left hundreds of millions of innocent Muslims to suffer at the hands of mad men. Current events are the predictable fruits sown by the seeds of a failed foreign policy. If we are to feel any shame, it is our full scale retreat that should be the cause.


  97. “Some years back, there was an SF short story in which a stand-up comic drove a group of terrorists into apoplexy by lampooning their actions — without slandering the majority who superficially shared some of the historical characteristics of the terrorists. (If memory serves, it didn’t end well for the comic.) Can’t remember the title or author, but seems eerily prophetic in hindsight.”

    With reply:

    ‘I suspect you’re referring to “Very Proper Charlies” by Dean Ing, written in 1978.’

    Which is, I would expect an allusion to “Bug Jack Barron”, the 1969 novel (and Hugo nominee) by Norman Spinrad. Though, in the Spinrad novel it is a coalition/conspiracy of news announces (IIRC) that chose to refer to terrorists as “Very proper Charlies”.

  98. So, what is an acceptable solution to the problem of ISIS? How do you separate the likes of ISIS, al-Queda, Muslim Brotherhood, et al, from the majority of Muslims and Islam in the minds of westerners?

  99. “If you believe that every Muslim supports ISIS and groups like it, then you should also believe that all Christians support the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church and Scott Lively.” Not all Christians but enough of them to pass a bunch of laws at the state and federal level to ban gay marriage. This does not make me optimistic about the situation we find ourselves in.

  100. SMC:

    As noted here, the first step is for people to realize and act personally on the idea that “Muslim” is not in fact synonymous with the worst elements of those claiming Islam as an excuse for their terrible actions. Beyond that, I’m not sure this thread is the best place for these particular questions. It’s meant to be focused on individuals and how they act personally.

  101. Ok. So how do you prevent a person from forming a negative stereotype about Muslims when the message most westerners receive ties Muslims, Islam and terrorism/extremism together?

  102. Very well said, M. Scalzi.

    If there’s anything the last fifteen years have taught us all, it’s that people start talking about a “clash of civilizations” when they are about to do something dumb. Or don’t wish to do the homework that would tell that it’s not that simple. Or just wish to see something blown up with a clean conscious.

  103. If one looks at the death toll, ISIS have killed far more people of Muslim faith than those of any other faith or ethnicity. I think that says something about their intentions.

  104. Dann665

    I’m sorry but your second paragraph is incomprehensible. You say that you ‘have spoken to a couple of their victims’ but apparently you are not talking about people who have been attacked by terrorists. Who (in general terms) are they, and what are they victims of?

    You then disappear down a blind alley; the only people ranting about clashes between two cultures are people with axes to grind which have nothing to do with the events in Paris.

    Equally, it’s fatuous to assert that Muslims don’t have the numbers necessary to take us out; there are almost 1.6 billion of them, around a quarter of the world’s population. As others have noted, if Islam really bred terror we’d all be dead right now. The fact that we are not suggests that the stuff about breeding terror is untrue.

    And then there’s the nonsense about abandoning the field of battle; in my experience that sort of nonsense is confined to armchair warriors who’ve never been anywhere near a battlefield. The driving force for the expansion of religious extremism within Islam was the US ignoring everything we have ever learned about fighting proxy wars, viz. they never end well.

    It was the US who poured vast amounts of money and arms into the forerunners of Taliban et al, thinking they would fight the Russians for them. It apparently never occurred to the policy makers that, once the ungodly Russians had been disposed of, the religious extremists would move on to disposing of the ungodly Americans.

    We are living with the consequences of that incredible stupidity, just as we are living with the consequences of yet more incredible stupidity in the Middle East. Some are dying as the consequence of that incredible stupidity, which is all the more reason to think hard and long about what we can do to effect change for the better.

    For example, the Imam Ibrahim El Ghoul, of the mosque where Omar Mostefai was allegedly radicalised by a previous incumbent, has spoken to reporters at a press conference, saying that he “totally” condemns the Paris terror attacks, and that he ‘shared the sadness”. “Our hearts are crying”. He cited a verse from the Koran which asserts that he who kills an innocent person kills the entire world.

    It’s difficult to see what more he could do; he has spoken out, as John has done. We need to keep speaking out about all victims of terrorists, regardless of the cause they espouse…

  105. Thanks to those who suggested “Very Proper Charlies”. That seems likely to be the good one. However, I’m dismayed that it’s such an old story. Apparently I’m suffering from old fart syndrome and conflating 30-some years ago with “a couple years back”. Scary.

    Further to the notion of Muslims standing together to protest ISIS, a relevant article from HuffPost:

    This won’t persuade anyone who’s joined ISIS because they’re psychopaths who are looking for any excuse to commit violence (a pan-human problem, not a Muslim problem), but might just talk a few folks out of joining. More to the point, I hope this counteracts some of the likely kickback against Islam based purely on knee-jerk “us against them”-ism.

  106. I agree with heartafire. No offense, but the point is many Muslims choose to come here to America, and then they are digusted, dissatisfied; They decry our way of life, the things that they want and have come here for. While here, they have the freedom to do what they cannot do in their own countries. And I am sure they love their countries, as I love mine. Why then, would they not wish to stay in their own countries where they will not be so offended. I do not believe every Muslim is tantamout to ISIS. But I don’t appreciate the disgust of the western world they share with ISIS, while they seem to take all they can from our way of life. Please. They should enjoy all the pleasures from their home countries and go back there. We should have immigrants here who appreciate what we have to offer.

  107. Strange to see that some commenters are apparently taking the poll quoted by Newsweek seriously. 16 percent of the French population is 10.5 million, and France’s total Muslim population is 5 million. So even if you assume that every French Muslim supports ISIS, which is ridiculous, around half of French citizens who supposedly support ISIS are non-Muslims.

  108. Llara:

    “No offense, but the point is many Muslims choose to come here to America, and then they are digusted, dissatisfied”

    Your assertion is no more provable than “Many Muslims choose to come here to America, and then they are delighted and thrilled,” however. Nor does it suggest that the Muslims who are as your claim are so in a manner that is different than any other group of immigrants, some who are happy, some who are not, and some who are conflicted because realistically speaking very few immigrant experiences are entirely one way or another.

    More to the point, you can’t dictate how immigrants ought to feel about their own situation, unless you want to create a special force of the INS dedicated to throwing people out of the country unless they feel sufficient levels of appreciation. And even more to the point, why should you or anyone else care if an immigrant, Muslim or otherwise, is dissatisfied? They have a perfect constitutional right to be so, if such is their desire. Not everyone is happy. As long as they aren’t breaking any laws, however, it’s not your problem, or anyone else’s.

  109. Walter: I agree that “blaming all Muslims” is wrong, but too many line up in sympathy with the “nut cases.” *Just* as they do with WBC/etc. Too often, when _any_ media talks to a “Prominent Muslim,” they try to excuse ISIS/Al Quaeda/etc. Whether it’s “fear of retaliation,” or inability to see a difference between *personal* Jihad, and Public terrorism, doesn’t matter. What _matters_ is the *actions.*

    Oh, if only you followed your own rules. Just to clarify, sympathy is thought, not action. And what you are doing, sir, is called thought policing. Anyone who is trying to condemn all Islam with ISIS, is trying to appoint themselves the thought police and regulate religion.

    but… but… but…

    But nothing. What matters is the BEHAVIOR. And you’re trying to control people’s thoughts.

    Oh, and if what _matters_ is action, what, pray tell, what ACTION do you see coming out of condemning all Islam as indistinguishable from ISIS because of their brainwaves and other spectral evidence?

    I agree that “blaming all Muslims” is wrong, but

    If all that matters is action, then all you’ve done is rendered a pointless judgement about all Islam. What in hell do you plan on DOING as an objective outcome of “blaming all Muslims”? Or what do you want America to DO about it? Round them up? If all that matters is ACTIONS, then why did you spend your entire post rendering bigotted judgements?

    I am entirely convinced that the lesson America has never learned about “hearts and minds” is that winning them is entirely different from dictating them or conquering them. And you, sir, are demonstrating that perfectly. Next, I fully expect you to say we will have to destroy western Iraq to “save” it.

    Dann: In January of 2009, we had a much better position from which to work in the “grey zone”. … Iraq had their version of representative government in place and was developing a peaceful relationship between the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites. … Since then we have abandoned the field of battle, snatched defeat from jaws of victory

    Oh god. Bog standard right wing propaganda. Bush had Iraq all buttoned up and Obama lost it. Utter nonsense.

    Almost all of the regional commanders appointed by ISIS’ leader and self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, played prominent roles in the Baathist army before the 2003 invasion of Iraq and became involved with ISIS either in the resulting insurgency or after the dictator’s 2006 execution.


    Lets see. 2006. That was a full two years before Obama became president, yes? But leave it to the right wingers to want to blame Bush’s bullshit war on anybody buy themselves and their hillbilly president.

    SMC: How do you separate the likes of ISIS, al-Queda, Muslim Brotherhood, et al, from the majority of Muslims and Islam in the minds of westerners?

    By pointing out that the problem is in the minds of bigotted westerners who can’t distinguish less than 1% from 100%, not, as you seem to be implying, in some external behavior that the 99% of Muslims are failing to do.

    So, what is an acceptable solution to the problem of ISIS?

    Attack ISIS and support those who attack ISIS, and most importantly, do so in a manner that does not wreak of Islamophobia or recklessness towards innocent Muslims and other civilians under ISIS control. In short, don’t win the PR war for ISIS. Don’t make it easy by setting up a torture prison in Abu Graib, a prison notorious for being used by Saddam to torture prisoners, and then do nothing about it or call it a “few bad apples” when it clearly wasn’t.

    If you want a strategy that fits the standard American attention span of several weeks, and cool video footage of laser guided bombs, it doesn’t exist.

    The success of ISIS hinges in two things. (1) that ISIS show their legitimacy and their continued legitimacy by maintaining and expanding control of the ground in Iraq/Syria. They are a recruiting magnet because they are successful. No one wants to support a failure, so we have to help them fail. (2) In helping them fail, do not, for fucks sake, hand them a free PR campaign, such as Abu Graib, or any of the countless wedding parties that have been bombed in Afghanistan, or any of the countless cases of American troops doing horrendously stupid things like pissing on the bodies of dead prisoners, murdering civilians, burning Korans, torture, etc.

    My understanding is that currently, NO ONE who is geographically located in the area likes ISIS. (except ISIS itself). That’s a good start, possibly something that can be leveraged. But we most certainly do NOT want to fuck it up by declaring war on all Islam.

    Llara: I do not believe every Muslim is tantamout to ISIS. But I don’t appreciate the disgust of the western world they share with ISIS

    This is thought policing again. Read my reply to Walter.

    There is a very perverted form of Americanism that says “love it or leave it”. Given the Founding Fathers didn’t leave the colonies and instead fought the British, and given when they won they embedded into the basics of the constitution the idea that civilians have every right to bitch and moan and publicly complain about their country and their government without having to leave it, and embedded into the basics of the constitution that civilinas have every right to their freedom fo beliefs and religion they want, the idea that anyone has to not only NOT complain, but can’t be disgusted,and have to watch that their thoughts are proper, is about as UN-American as one can get.

    To all the anti-Muslim folks out there: Seriously? How is your attitude anything more than thought policing what religion people can follow and what thoughts they have in their head about whether they “sympathize” too much with some group or that they are thinking “disgusted” thoughts about something you don’t think they should be disgusted about?

    Seriously? Have we been reduced to lumping a billion people together with a couple hundred thousand because they read the same fucking book ????

  110. Thank you for writing this, and writing it so well. It encapsulates a lot of what I’ve been thinking about since this newest incident, but so much better than I ever could have expressed myself. (It’s almost like you’re a really good professional author or something.)

    Again – thank you.

  111. @Llara – you could easily swap “Fundamentalist Christians” with Muslims in your rant, and be more accurate. For in the southern states, the fundamentalist Christians are trying to destroy the constitutional separation of church and state, the prohibition of establishing a state religion, the right to abortion, pushing back against gay marriage, etc, etc. I regard this bigoted small minded and regressive tendency as more of a threat to the US than the vanishingly small number of fundamentalist Muslims. Ted “the Canadian” Cruz is an existential threat to the USA – a few thousand black clad loonies in Toyota HiLuxes in the mid east is not.

    As an immigrant myself, I do like and admire certain aspects of US culture, but I’m out in California so the state is more center-right than the extreme right found in the rest of the country. I was considered right wing in the UK, I’m now to the left of Bernie Saunders…but I’m not going back to the UK, and as a citizen, I have the same rights as you do to vote and campaign for what I think is right.

  112. @Greg
    Well, that’s an interesting, and not very coherent rant.

    “By pointing out that the problem is in the minds of bigotted westerners who can’t distinguish less than 1% from 100%, not, as you seem to be implying, in some external behavior that the 99% of Muslims are failing to do.”

    You assert all westerners are bigoted. That’s rather intolerant of you.

    How would you attack ISIS? Put boots on the ground? War is the ultimate in Us vs. Them, Black vs. White. If ISIS goal is to eliminate the ‘grey zone’, then going to war with them is a great way to do it. As for legitimizing ISIS, all France has to do is invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty, as some are suggesting.

  113. ISIS is not a religious conflict. ISIS is not trying to inflict Islam on the world. ISIS doesn’t even like most of Islam. ISIS is a geo-power conflict. Some of the main members of ISIS are former Iraqi army commanders who, after Iraq forces surrender in the war, were fired by the Bush administration in the most bone-headed and deadliest decision of the Iraqi War. These people became the most problematic of the insurgent factions in Iraq in the aftermath and they are continuing that. They don’t want to really establish a caliphate. They want to come back into power in Iraq at a time when the Iraq nation was highly vulnerable due to divisions. And in doing so, those factions and tribal groups that have been largely shut out of the Iraqi government joined up with them as an attempted coup to hold their territories.

    Likewise, some of the power players of ISIS are guys kicked out of power in Al-Qaeda, so they signed on to create a new organization to kick Al-Qaeda off its perch at the top of the terrorism tree and try and control parts of the Middle East. Some of ISIS were from various political splinter groups in Syria trying to outseat Assad, a Muslim. Although some of their divisions are supposedly sectarian based, in large part it’s simply a rogue’s gallery of small power players trying to level up in the area.

    ISIS does not follow any consistent set of beliefs related to Islam or otherwise, which is now beginning to hurt them a lot as they aren’t exactly benevolent to the people in the areas they take over. They have forced and bought Muslim children and women into their camps, using them as sex slaves and slave soldiers for fodder. They have their clarion call on the Web, most of which their leaders aren’t following at all. This is how it goes down with any authoritarian group claiming it’s fighting over moral weaknesses. This is not a new dance. Faith is just politics in a flowy robe.

    And the demonizing of Muslims or people of any religious group isn’t new either. Whenever it’s politically and financially expedient, you’ll get people trying to use a military conflict to enforce repression of entire populations and line their own pockets. But if ISIS manages to hold on to a slice of territory because bigger powers don’t want to commit themselves to a long slog in the desert again in which numerous mistakes usually get made, it’s not going to be a theocracy. It’s just going to be a standard bunch of crooks reeking brutality on whatever populace they can cow. Stop romanticizing it and exaggerating it by pretending there’s some mystical violence gene to Islam or Arabs.

  114. SMC

    Greg hasn’t asserted that all westerners are bigoted. Anyone with the reading skills of the average 10 year old knows very well that the sentence you quote doesn’t say what you claim it does.

    Perhaps you could address your own defects in language comprehension before you make false statements about what other posters have said.

  115. @Stevie

    Explain it to me then…use simple words, please, since my reading comprehension is, according to you, no better than the average 10 year old.

  116. ISIS is not a religious conflict. ISIS is not trying to inflict Islam on the world. ISIS doesn’t even like most of Islam.

    Yeah, the Da’esh pigfuckers are so bad that Iran is willing to work directly with America on ending them. Iran and Saudi Arabia, currently working on multiple proxy wars to counter each others’ influence, had ambassadors sit down in Vienna with John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov to hash out a plan to end the pigfuckers.

    We shouldn’t use “ISIS”, either. Calling the pigfuckers an “Islamic state” legitimizes them; the proper term is the Arabic epithet داس (Da’esh), meaning “trample”, or the slur “pigfuckers” (since pigs are considered unclean in Islam, anybody who copulates with a pig is essentially mating with filth–my Palestinian friend calls it “poetic”, and he should know since he’s a poet).

    Hell, the pigfuckers have even threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone who calls them “Da’esh”. If those monsters hate it, it has to be a good thing.

    Well said in general, Mr. Scalzi. It heartens me to see people like you actually approaching this like sensible human beings.

    Finally, I’ll just leave this here:

    They’re evil, they’re blasphemous and sacreligious, and they may just be Satan’s host. Congratulations, pigfuckers. You have truly surpassed all human understanding of evil.

  117. Floored:

    They’re evil, they’re blasphemous and sacreligious, and they may just be Satan’s host. Congratulations, pigfuckers. You have truly surpassed all human understanding of evil.

    You pretty much completely missed my point, kitten. They have not surpassed all human understanding of evil. They are pretty standard human evil with very human and political motivations for most of what they are doing. Iran, Saudi Arabia, the U.S., France, Russia and countless other countries have done things equally as evil, for similar political reasons.

    Which is not to say that they shouldn’t be stopped. But they are not a special breed of evil and it is dehumanizing and romanticizing — leading to the discrimination and threat of millions of others tarred with the same brush — to keep painting them as such. The people in this group are people we’ve fought before. It’s not new, it’s not special, and most of their success has been luck. Dealing with them is tricky, because it involves numerous different populations in the region and now thousands of refugees, and because some of the people fighting for them or aiding them are coerced into doing so. Black hats and white hats approaches don’t help us, and never have in the Middle East or elsewhere.

  118. Stevie: Recast the sentence. You directly state that the sentence “The problem is in the minds of bigotted westerners” implies that all westerners are bigots. This is logically false. Change it to something completely different: “The problem is in the minds of tabby kittens.” Does this imply that “All kittens are tabbies”? Clearly not.

    Now, if you’re going to claim that the argument in question carries an EMOTIONAL implication that all westerners are bigoted, then fine…but in that case, you still have some heavy lifting to do in order to make that case.

  119. @ Kat Goodwin: I have to disagree to an extent; the pigfuckers do things as standard policy that even the US didn’t do during, say, the Bush administration. The things that the pigfuckers do, quite frankly, are on the level of the Nazis–rounding up and exterminating people, forced labor, setting up a fascist state, even the internal political schisms of the group are reminiscent of the Nazis.

    I agree that it’s not new. I’m just saying that, like the Nazis, or North Korea, the pigfuckers go beyond what humans believe themselves capable of in terms of evil.

    And I have to stop thinking about this, because I’m going to end up burning the supreme pigfucker in effigy again. I…have a low tolerance for sapient rights abuses.

    Also, is “kitten” my new nickname? Because I actually like that. Kittens are nice.

  120. @SMC: Good point; I’ve killed off Stalin in enough alternate-history stories to know that he was really evil.

    I remember one time, when I had him assassinated by Sir Christopher Lee and Simo Häyhä. That was a good death scene. Very humiliating.

  121. John



    I wasn’t the person who construed Greg’s comment as suggesting that all Westerners are bigoted. The person who did so was SMC, and I do not see how any rational person could construe the sentence quoted as asserting that all Westerners are bigoted.

    The only person who can explain why SMC made that claim is SMC…

  122. [Deleted because take your little soapbox somewhere else, Billy Quiets, you’re boring me. If on the other hand you want to add something of actual substance to the conversation here, you may try again — JS]

  123. SMC

    As I noted above, the only person who can explain why you believe that the sentence you quoted is an assertion that all Westerners are bigoted is you. No one else can do so since telepathy doesn’t exist.

    I am surprised that you are so reluctant to explain why you made that claim, but I have no means of knowing why this is; I’m not a telepath. I could speculate that you are unaccustomed to people actually reading what others have written, and thus you are somewhat taken aback when people do so, but that is mere speculation. The ball remains in your court…

  124. “By pointing out that the problem is in the minds of bigotted westerners…”

    If Greg didn’t mean, all westerners are bigoted, then at the very least, this is a poorly constructed statement. Now, back to you.

  125. SMC: I’ll give it a shot, then. “Bigoted Westerners” doesn’t mean that all Westerners are bigoted, any more than “red-headed Hoosiers” means that all Hoosiers are redheads. It refers to those Westerners who are bigoted, not to all Westerners. This seems to me blindingly obvious, but that’s one of the problems with language, I guess: what is obvious to me may not be obvious to others.

    Similarly, “white racists” doesn’t mean that all whites are racist, or that only whites are racist. It refers to some white people who are racist, and some racists who are white. I could multiply examples of this sort of thing. I’ve noticed, though, that the people who read “white racists” as meaning that all white people are racist, which totally isn’t fair because #NotAllWhitePeople! … are generally white racists themselves.

    I also find it interesting that Mark responded to my earlier comment by focusing on a side issue, not the main issue of stereotyping. Well played!

  126. SMC: Well, that’s an interesting, and not very coherent rant.

    Greg: “By pointing out that the problem is in the minds of bigotted westerners who can’t distinguish less than 1% from 100%,

    SMC: You assert all westerners are bigoted. That’s rather intolerant of you.

    Good lord, man, “bigotted westerners”. It’s called an adjective. It couldn’t be more coherent.

    The fact that others have explained it to you, and rather than admit you screwed up, you instead try to say a statement following basic, stock standard grammar rules is a “poorly constructed statement” is a reflection of you, not my sentence construction.

    SMC: If ISIS goal is to eliminate the ‘grey zone’, then going to war with them is a great way to do it.

    That’s not what the ‘grey zone’ is referring to.

    The grey zone is referring to the “lurkers who support ISIS in email”, ISIS wants to imagine a “silent majority” of Muslims who quietly support them. If there were a political cartoon that captured the essence of the “grey zone”, it would be ISIS drawn as a kid pointing at the West, saying “Oh yeah? My big brother is gonna beat you up!” and the “Big Brother” is the other 99.9% of muslims. And those muslims are looking at ISIS with a “WTF?” over their head.

    At that point, the West has two options. (1) continue attacking ISIS and leave big brother out of it or (2) attack big brother and bring about the apocolypse that ISIS is trying to create.

    ISIS wants the other 99% of Muslims to join their side. The other 99% of muslims have no interest in fighting the fight that ISIS started. But if the West wants to attack Muslims for being Muslim, then that’s the West picking a new fight, and a very stupid one as well.

    Kat: But they are not a special breed of evil and it is dehumanizing and romanticizing — leading to the discrimination and threat of millions of others tarred with the same brush — to keep painting them as such.

    Saying “ISIS is a special kind of evil” isnt’ the proverbial “shouting fire in a crowded theater” of bigots. The problem is shouting “FIRE!” when the statement is not true. But ISIS really IS a special kind of evil, or at least the facts support it as not an unreasonable opinion to express.

    Now, if shouting “FIRE” when the theater is in fact burning causes bigots to stampede and trample themselves and others, then that’s the bigots’ fault, not the guy who said “fire”.

  127. Kelly

    Not to worry about it; it can get a bit confusing, and we’ve all managed to misidentify things quite frequently…

  128. We are right and they are wrong. The “we” in this case being western civilization with our liberal/open-minded/tolerant approach to government and society.

    You might want to take a little more careful look at “Western civilization” there, Dann, and who you think of as “we”. When a third of Iowa Republicans think Islam should be illegal with another fifth ‘unsure’, for example, despite freedom of religion being the law of the land, I think you can pretty confidently say those folks don’t have a “liberal/open-minded/tolerant” approach to government and society.

    Similarly, I think you’d be hard-pressed to say that the Canadians who burned down a mosque yesterday, half an hour after families were inside celebrating the birth of a child, probably didn’t share a liberal/open-minded/tolerant approach to government and society.

  129. I wholeheartedly agree that most Muslims aren’t terrorists.

    Most airline passengers aren’t trying to blow the plane up, either. But we still send everyone through a metal detector.

  130. Most airline passengers aren’t trying to blow the plane up, either. But we still send everyone through a metal detector

    So, Bill, someone commits a violent act — do we immediately go after every community of which they were a member? Hmm, let’s see: Timothy McVeigh was an American. Go after all Americans! He was from New York. Go after all New Yorkers! He was a veteran. Go after all veterans! He attended Bryant and Stratton College! Go after all their students!

    Alternatively, we could realize how idiotic that logic is and move on.

  131. Duncan: I focused on the side issue because that was the only aspect of your comment I took issue with. The rest I agreed with, although, as I also tried to add to the discussion, if people are honest with themselves I think there are a lot more people that fall into simplistic generalizations that are harmful when they’re not vigilant (which I did and acknowledged doing) than those who honestly never do so.

  132. And…. now we have the Republican scare-mongering contingent saying we shouldn’t let in any Syrian refugees. I think someone above was saying things about broadbrush generalizations?

    Electing a Republican regime here would help Daesh because they’d immediately go do something stupid. On prior form, invading Iran would be the likely (and utterly wrong) start point – especially because they hate Daesh too.

    And although Obama’s “contained” statement was pretty dumb, I remember a certain US president in a flight suit on an aircraft carrier.

  133. Mark: I guess the real question you should be asking yourself is “What the f*** is wrong with me?” Because that’s where one has to start. I don’t remember at which point in my life I abandoned the stereotyping mode we’re talking about here, but it was pretty early. It may be harder for others than it was for me, I don’t know — but most people don’t seem even to try.

    Maybe I didn’t choose my “they” examples very well, though I think you still miss the point. Here’s a better one: during the fading years of the Bush/Cheney regime I had an argument with a co-worker. I condemned the US invasion of Iraq. She said: “Well, if they can come over here and bomb us, why shouldn’t we fight back?” Of course, the Iraqis had never come over here and bombed us. I suppose by “they” she meant “Ayrabs” or “Mooslims.” Or maybe just “furriners.” My point is that I’ve learned to perk up when someone talks vaguely but with hostility about “they” (or “those people”), whether they’re talking about precious parts of our cultural heritage like Star Trek or Star Wars, or about anything else. That vague “they” is a stepping stone to dehumanizing others.

    You deserve credit for admitting your immediate reaction; I should have said that before. I just find it baffling. Clearly, I’m odd person out in this, as I am in many areas.

  134. Incidentally, I listened to Democracy Now! this morning, and heard some of the best commentary I’ve heard so far on these attacks. Especially Vijay Prashad, who had a lot of substantive and informed things to say about the cluelessness and frequent incompetence of both the US and France in dealing with violence in the Middle East, with ISIS in particular. The transcript hasn’t been posted yet, but it should be up soon after noon Eastern Time.

    Not the Reddit Chris S.: You give Obama too much credit. Yes, he’s Not-Bush. But he still has a lot of innocent blood on his hands, he has done nothing to make the world safer, and as Prashad says, he has no idea what he’s doing despite his posturing about ISIS, Iran, and other Middle Eastern countries. Think of the terror-bombing of Libya in 2011, supported by the US but largely led by France, which killed thousands of innocent people, put a corrupt and despotic regime in power (Meet the new boss…), and contributed to the increasing instability and violence in the region. This is not to endorse the Republicans, of course; that’s another example of the stereotyping we’re looking at here. (If you don’t support POTUS, you must love the Republicans; if you don’t favor the bombing of Libya, you must wish Qaddafy was still in power; and so on.)

  135. As for demonizing, foreign-born may not understand demonizing as we do. I say this because several colleagues at work from various countries, in a discussion, said we north americans can have Remembrance Day/Veterans Day only because our wars were external… unlike theirs.

    This suggests to me they don’t know that German Shepherd dogs became Alsatians, or that restaurants sold liberty cabbage. Over here, in wartime, if our body politic, all of us, support some of us to derail our lives working in bayonet factories, or to jab with such bayonets, then demonizing is a prerequisite.

    i guess the trick is not to press the “war” button. Words build your world. If we can surmount our egos to downgrade global warming to climate change, then perhaps, without feeling like losers, we can downgrade the war on terror to, say, a campaign against terror, or a police action or global effort or —I will stop brainstorming.

    I’m not the only one who hates the term war. Vigilante journalists have noticed that President Obama never says “war on terror.”

  136. We are more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by ISIS. That isnt meant to downplay those who were murdered, but to give a guage with which to compare whatever our response ends up being.

    I think the only reason someone would see the ISIS attack and respond with all out war on all Islam is because they have lost control of their fear and they are willing to “other” anything they dont understand.

    I swear, if Thor made lightning, we would have found a way to Asgard long ago, and bombed it.

  137. Can’t…look…away… I’ve been fascinated by the thread, and occasionally managed to catch a post before it was malleted (sp?). The places people can go from a post that I read as, “Don’t be a hater or a bully”. I liked the original blog entry, and I admire your ability to keep the comments largely on topic and civil. As for me, it’s time to drive on and stop the rubbernecking!

  138. I agree with everything Scalzi says, but I gotta ask why nearly all the world terror attacks come from Muslim groups? Comparing ISIS to the KKK might be valid, but I don’t see hundreds of christian extremist attacks killing thousands of innocent people in the last ten years. Dredging up the Crusades doesn’t count. If only one religion is actively responsible for all this then they are gonna get lumped together, right or wrong.

  139. David: “If only one religion is actively responsible for all this then they are gonna get lumped together, right or wrong.”

    The fact you are willing to condemn Islam “right or *wrong*” is a reflection on the flexibility of your morality, not some objective reality that hands down justifications for bigotry.

    And bigots will look at a hundred Islamic scholars telling Daesh that they are doing Islam wrong, shrug, and go back to being bigots.

  140. What you’ve said is true. But don’t blame people for their words and thoughts on this subject. They are frightened. This mayhem has gone on a long time now and people are stressed out because they can’t see an end to it.

  141. I think “Apologizing for” is stating it wrong. I think it is more a wish for more active denouncement and work to eliminate such extremism. I also think we don’t do enough to denounce and ridicule Westboro either, but if Westboro broke a law, they’d be in jail, so it’s not apples to apples.

    For the Isis assholes to exist, there has to be fuel. Until they are shunned and wiped out by their own community, it will continue to breed such people. Until every mosque teaches its flock to denounce, shun, and turn those such murderous types in for their activities, they will continue.

    The other nations in the middle east also need to denounce and actively try to slay them to the man. It isn’t OUR battle, or at least it shouldn’t be. They should clean up their own cancer if they want peace, but they use such groups for their own political and internal gain. They feed the fire by using the western world as a scapegoat, and fan the flames of radical muslims because it is a means to their own ends.

    Yes, it is simplistic and ignorant to blame all Muslims. But there also has to be some accountability.

  142. @David: Offhand, and I speak as an English major with no specific political knowledge, I’d say it has to do with the infrastructure/culture/etc in any given country.

    In the US and possibly in many other countries where Christianity is the dominant religion, there’s often a relative amount of peace and prosperity. We have our fanatics, including violent ones, but a) there’s not the widespread desperation that gives terrorist groups a great foothold, and b) our law enforcement hasn’t been disrupted by years of war, regime change, etc. Our terrorists are generally young men desperately grasping for delusions of adequacy, and they generally act on their own, because the groups that encourage that sort of thing also present a pretty vast profile.

    Like, do I think Operation Rescue celebrated and encouraged Dr. Tiller’s murder, or that Falwell’s bunch knew they got *exactly what they wanted* when Matthew Shepard died? Fuck yes. Do I think they’d encourage more of that sort of thing if they thought they could get away with it? Also yes. But in the US, the legal and media climate is such that they feel the need to distance themselves from the very actions they encourage with their doctrine.

    (I mean, I would also lay many LGBT suicides, botched attempts at home abortion, fatal pregnancies, etc at the door of the Christian right–not to mention a good part of the AIDS crisis–but that is, I admit, not violent. Our horrible fanatics are mostly content to *passive-aggressively* kill people, so…yay?)

    This isn’t an innate property of Islam v. Christianity, or the West v. the Middle East: if anything, it comes from the West fucking over a bunch of Islamic-majority countries during the Cold War because OMG COMMIES, plus all the other stuff people mention here. Monstrous people can use any belief as fuel (Anders Breivik, IIRC, was some variety of Christian fundamentalist, and I can list a whole bunch of serial killers who turned to the Bible for justification*), and we, in part, have created a lot of places where monsters can thrive.

    * Yes, I am a font of creepy knowledge.

  143. Until they are shunned and wiped out by their own community, it will continue to breed such people.

    You do realize that more than 99% of Muslims hate the pigfuckers just as much as we do? That using “pigfuckers” to refer to Da’esh is something that I picked up from a Muslim friend, who used the term to express how un-Islamic the pigfuckers actually are?

    You’re basically saying “until every church hunts down the WBC and decries them for what they are, they need to be held accountable and the WBC and similar hate groups will continue to grow”.

  144. I think it is more a wish for more active denouncement and work to eliminate such extremism

    Which is to say, putting those goalposts on rails so they can be moved at will. The handy thing about “more active” denouncement and “more work” is that no matter what individual Muslims or Muslim organizations do or say, you can turn up your nose and say, oh well, that’s not active enough or loud enough or consistent enough, and failing that, you can always go back and say that they should have been louder in the past so the present doesn’t count.

    And yes, it is apples to apples, because we have Christian extremists here in the US who aren’t in jail – unless Cliven Bundy and his buddies got dragged to Guantanamo when we weren’t looking and a robo-Cliven was substituted in by the black helicopter dudes? Did I miss the mass arrests of the military wing of Operation Rescue and the people who stalked, threatened and attacked abortion-clinic workers and patients, or was it just because there weren’t any until somebody actually committed open murder (and then it was the usual White Dude So He’s A Lone Wolf symphony a-playing)? Did that right-wing extremism report that was withdrawn in 2009 ever get reasserted by the government, or did it stay buried because certain constituencies would prefer the government pretended slapping a cross on a manifesto is a kind of Terrorism-B-Gone?

  145. @Floored and Mythago: right, exactly.

    And, you know, I do expect rational Christian *leaders* to speak out when the local pro-forced-birth/homophobic/anti-sex/anti-woman brigade does one of their things, even when said things are nonviolent, because that’s what being a leader means. (Individual people…I assume they say things as and when they can, but I’m not privy to all their conversations, so.) And I do kinda side-eye any Christian public figure who remains silent when these things come up. Many do speak out, and that’s great, but I’m not sure they get heard over the less reasonable factions.

    Likewise, Muslim leaders have spoken out against this attack and the others. A lot. It doesn’t get through to the pigfuckers, any more than Fred Clark or Gene Robinson get through to James Dobson or his followers. People like that don’t listen.

  146. Everything you say seems so obvious, and yet it is not to so many people. I do not understand and I am also saddened because the only explanations I can come up with depress me.

    @ David Teach– Scalzi already provided counter-examples in green in this very thread. (See: November 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm ) It’s hard to read an entire one of these comment sections, but it’s pretty easy just to read the green boxes. I imagine the difference is media bias and the fact that the US is primarily Christian so we tend to report Christian attacks as isolated events having nothing to do with Christianity if we report them at all.

  147. Julia Robb:

    “But don’t blame people for their words and thoughts on this subject. They are frightened.”

    Well, no. That’s not much of an excuse unless you’re directly in the middle of it, or immediately thereafter. Most of the people commenting on Twitter and other social media (or at least, on the portion of Twitter and other social media I see) are literally thousands of miles away, without any direct personal connection. I think it’s not unreasonable to hold them accountable for their speech, and to ask why they in particular feel frightened.

    Ironically, the people here in the US I would give a pass for feeling frightened would be Muslims, who also have nothing to do with the events far away, but many of whom are being asked to account for them.

  148. Tom: “The other nations in the middle east also need to denounce and actively try to slay them to the man.”

    Oh really? And what should America do about all the cia thugs who tortured, waterboarded, and even murdered prisoners of war?

    If John Doe on Main Street doesnt actively try to slay those people, can he be slain in their stead? I am interested in hearing more of your moral pronouncements. Can the military target civilians if their government launches a war against us? If a murderer goes unpunished, are the victims family and friends alowed to slay any and all who did not sufficiently punish the murderer? Do tell.

  149. John — when writing my comment, I specifically didn’t mention TSA, for reasons that jibe with the video you linked to (I’ve been a reader of Bruce Schneier for over a decade). Metal detectors predate that agency by many years, and are (unfortunately) a necessary part of the passenger air system. (and if you compare the number of hijackings before 1973, when metal detectors became more-or-less universal, to after, it’s pretty obvious that they have been very effective).

  150. Tom Combs: “I think it is more a wish for more active denouncement and work to eliminate such extremism”

    Mythago: “Which is to say, putting those goalposts on rails so they can be moved at will. The handy thing about ‘more active’ denouncement and ‘more work’ is that no matter what individual Muslims or Muslim organizations do or say, you can turn up your nose and say, oh well, that’s not active enough or loud enough or consistent enough”

    Me: And it puts the responsibility for eliminating such extremism on other Muslims, just because those particular extremists mask themselves as Muslim. Those other Muslims are no more responsible for ending extremism than anyone else is.

    It also seems to disregard how responses to terrorism made by non-Muslims can reinforce extremism. What are Muslims supposed to do when all the denouncing and all the working to eliminate extremism they may do are undercut by governments that make emotional, non-strategically sound responses to terror that have the effect of throwing gasoline on the fire? What are these Muslims to do when discrimination against them by non-Muslims because of their religion embitters their children, making them more susceptible to the siren song of terrorists?

    Seems to me that judging Muslims for their responses to terror is an easy way to avoid looking at hard problems. What are some strategically sound responses that will not up the ante? And do Western governments have the ability and willingness to make such responses in the face of their citizens’ demands for problems to be solved immediately and in a way that satisfies the popular desire for vengeance?

  151. @Bill, metal detectors are used to screen every single passenger getting onto an airplane. They are not used because peaceful air commuters are suspect and potential terrorists since they share an ideology (“wanting to get on this damn plane before it takes off”) with terrorists. So I guess I’m not following your analogy here, since you seem to proclaim that it is OK to treat all Muslims in all contexts with suspicion since some Muslims are terrorists. Could you explain?

  152. My thought is, come out, good muslims, come out and show your outrage for the terroism done in the name of Islam.


    Nah, let’s just not play this bullshit game until we start demanding Christian and Jewish leaders line up to ritually condemn every act of heinous fuckery committed by their co-religionists. Every damn time. Of course that never happens, so why do it to anyone else?

    I’m a devout openly gay mixed-race Catholic. If I had to “condemn” every shitty thing my fellow Catholics (let alone the 2.5 billion Christians on this planet) have done, are doing and will do it would be a full time job, and I’ve got a living to earn.

  153. While I do not disagree with your comments I choose to focus on those that suffer or lost their lives.

  154. While I do not disagree with your comments I choose to focus on those that suffer or lost their lives.

    Would that include the Egyptian citizen who went to a football game at the Stade De France, was seriously injured and initially (and inaccurately) reported as a suspect because his passport was found at the scene? As far as I’m aware no media outlet that did this to an innocent victim has seen fit to formally retract and apologize.

    In other news: Human beings can give a shit about more than one thing at a time. Try it.

  155. @mythago I’m saying that generalized suspicion is a part of life nowadays. (and I’m not saying it’s “OK”.) Some of that suspicion lands on Muslims, and they shouldn’t get a pass because some jerks blame the 99% for the actions of the 1% (pick your numbers). We all have lost privacy and freedoms and some presumption of innocence in the last 14 years; so identifying Muslims as mostly not deserving scrutiny is irrelevant. Mostly, we all don’t deserve scrutiny.

    And to the extent that there are Muslims that “share an ideology” (your words) with terrorist elements, they should be subject to specific suspicion. For example, four extremist Muslims (Elton Simpson, Nadir Soofi, Hassan Abu-Jihaad and Derrick Shareef) have all been associated with the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix. Now maybe that’s just a coincidence, but I think it is totally reasonable for law enforcement to pay a little extra attention to the messages espoused by the leadership of that mosque.

  156. “Would that include the Egyptian citizen who went to a football game at the Stade De France, was seriously injured and initially (and inaccurately) reported as a suspect because his passport was found at the scene? As far as I’m aware no media outlet that did this to an innocent victim has seen fit to formally retract and apologize”

    Sure, as said before I choose to focus on those that lost their lives or suffered as a result of the attack. What’s your point, I see none.

  157. @Bill, do you also believe it’s irrelevant to talk about how hard the recession hit working-class and poor families, since wealthy people took a little bit of a haircut in the stock market? I mean, we all suffered economic losses, so my losing a few percentage points of value off my 401K is so much like poor families becoming jobless and homeless that talking about the latter is really irrelevant.

    Speaking of irrelevant, nobody actually suggested that known extremist groups should be ignored if they also claim to be affiliated with Islam. I, personally, would prefer that law enforcement pays attention to any such organization, and not give a pass to those that hang their hatred on Jesus or states’ rights. Likewise, it makes no sense to assume every Christian or every fully-informed-jury advocate is probably at least in secret sympathy with extremists.

    So unless you were condemning metal detectors as being intrusive and unfair, still not getting the point you thought you were making?

  158. BW.. it’s not moving the goalposts, it is simply stating that real change starts at the base level. If the children didn’t get conned into becoming jihadi monsters, it would wither and die. If the churches and communities all denounced and worked to change things from the basest levels and work up from there, it ends.
    It ends when people turn in the terrorists instead of silently harboring them. It ends when children universally are taught that their religion doesn’t instruct you to kill infidels.
    There’s a lot of f-ed up things in the letter of Islam, and there are many who twist the teachings just like those who twist the Bible the same way. Just look at the Kevin Swanson fucker who calls for homosexuals to be exterminated. Similar evil, but if Swanson tried, he’d be in prison, not hailed as a leader.

    But real change starts on the bottom. It did when Christian were evil savages a couple hundred years ago. The PEOPLE created the change, not the pope.

  159. John your post is one of the more thoughtful analyses I have read on the topic. I am sharing it with others, and hope they will share it with their followers in kind. Terrorism cannot be fought with whack-a-mole strategies. Much better to fight it with clarity of thought, openness of spirit and eyes wide open.

  160. @WonderOfItAll:

    I’d happily spell my point out for you, but as I hear our host ominously rattling The Mallet of Loving Correction and my health insurance doesn’t cover blunt-force head trauma I’ll refrain. I didn’t think it was that hard to get, but my mistake.


    What you’ve said is true. But don’t blame people for their words and thoughts on this subject. They are frightened. This mayhem has gone on a long time now and people are stressed out because they can’t see an end to it.

    Perhaps this is exactly the time we all need to think harder and think twice before speaking once. Least we forget, there were people in Paris that dreadful, uncertain night who weren’t oozing Islamophobia but almost literally throwing open their doors to strangers who needed to get off the streets. As John pointed out, more eloquently than I could, being frightened doesn’t give anyone a pass for being ignorant or cruel. Because that’s not inevitable. I expect better from people (including myself) because we are better.

    Nor should we forget that the point of terrorism is right there in the name. To spread terror — to get us all making bad decisions so the likes of ISIL and Brevik and on and on can say “see, I was right all along.” It’s not as if ISIL have made any great secret of their utter contempt for refugees from their abuses, or that they welcome everything Western governments do to alienate and radicalize their own citizens. So why keep playing right into their hands?

  161. AJ,
    Yes, people are angry, scared and sad. Provoking those feelings is one of the aims of Daesh’s actions, in the hope that scared, angry people will make the kind of stupid choices (e.g demonizing Islam or attacking Muslims and their places of worship, individually or as a matter of public policy) that help Daesh achieve its goals.
    But feelings are not facts. One thing all of us can do is keep our heads, and resist not only Daesh’s invitation to be as hateful as they are but also those seeking to make political or religious capital out of the lives lost in Paris.
    One way to fight terrorists is to refuse to play their game: to decline to act terrorized and hateful, no matter how we feel. Scalzi’s post and most of the subsequent discussion contribute to that. Many thanks!

  162. David Teach said this, and a few other commenters have implied similar things.

    “I gotta ask why nearly all the world terror attacks come from Muslim groups?”

    As anyone who was alive in the UK and Ireland in the 80s & 90s knows, this is categorically untrue, as the IRA* and Loyalist terrorist groups were definitely not Muslim. Have a quick google about that, and the bombings carried out by David Copeland in London too. For Spain, have a look at ETA, and hell, if you’re in the USA, I can’t believe you’ve never heard of the Oklahoma Bombing or the Unabomber – or the horrible spate of terrorist arson attacks on black churches across the USA that are currently ongoing.

    (* And don’t get me started on how the IRA were predominantly funded by people within the USA…)

  163. Firstly, very well said. I’m sure that that’s already been said. (Forgive me, I haven’t read all of these thought-provoking comments…)
    Secondly, I thought that you and anyone else interested may like to read this comment piece which was written by a former hostage of the nasties… #relevant

    Thanks for writing this. I’m sure I’ll be back to visit your blog again!

  164. Well said as always, John.

    For more references to Christian atrocities, here’s an article listing some. There are lots more. (Personal fave: American slavery. Justified with “Christian” teachings. WAYYY bigger than Daesh.)

    I’m late to this party because I’ve been arguing with (and, generally, ending up blocking) right-wing dipshits who are making common cause with Daesh in that they want what Daesh wants: for Muslims to be unwelcome in the West. Arguing until I get so tired and depressed that I just go watch another several episodes of Murdoch Mysteries.

    Meanwhile, speaking of dipshits, all the dipshit GOP governors* are shoving each other out of the way to say they won’t allow any Syrian refugees in their state, even though NONE of the attackers identified so far was a Syrian refugee, and in fact all appear to have had European citizenship. It’s awfully depressing.

    Fortunately, the governors of states don’t actually have the authority to refuse refugees access to their states (Arizona v. United States, 2012), so what the asshole posturing actually does is let them say they did everything they could to keep them out…which was whine, snivel, and lie.

    *Anyone know if there are GOP governors who aren’t dipshits right now? There did use to be, but I can’t think of any current ones.

  165. Floored:

    I agree that it’s not new. I’m just saying that, like the Nazis, or North Korea, the pigfuckers go beyond what humans believe themselves capable of in terms of evil.

    That’s not true. ISIS is nowhere near the league of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot or North Korea. They are nowhere near the atrocities of both sides of WWI. They’re not even good soldiers and a portion of their army again are slaves, many of them kids. They got lucky because Syria was falling apart and the Iraqi army ran away. And they’re losing. They are certainly on par with the Polish people who killed their Jewish neighbors, threw them in shallow graves and took their stuff, with Boko Haram in Nigeria, and they are putting a bead on the slaughter in Rwanda’s civil war, but comparing them to Stalin is propaganda hyperbole. Their horrible acts are the same horrible acts committed by people in countries all over the world and always have been.

    But you know who is in that league? The U.S., which has mass slaughtered, raped, tortured and enslaved Native Americans for centuries; black people the same for centuries; tortured and killed immigrants; dropped chlorine gas in WWI, phosphorus bombs on civilians in WWII; is the only country to drop hydrogen bombs horribly killing thousands of people long and short term; interred, tortured, stole from and killed Japanese, German and Austrian Americans; tested nuclear weapons in the West, killing Americans with cancer and wiping out an entire sheep industry; sterilized and injected people with deadly diseases as experiments; kills thousands of kids with starvation and lack of medical care every year; kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, degraded, and murdered prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan — many of whom were actually innocent civilians; had soldiers commit rapes, massacres and atrocities, sometimes on their fellow soldiers; let Afghans and Iraqi allies rape and enslave children as a cultural practice that had to be tolerated without interference; have killed thousands of innocent people including many children as collateral damage in bombings over decades of war; have cops shoot unarmed, handcuffed black citizens (another one today,); put people in prison for being poor, black or drug users and keep them there through debt fines, let them be raped, beaten and killed including by cops and guards, starve them and serve them rotted food, and use the convicts for slave labor; and has sitting politicians in charge of making laws calling for the imprisonment and execution of gays, black people, women, immigrants and Muslims.

    China is choking its people to death. There is a huge global slave trade, some of it run by governments. Russia shot down a jet plane. Hershey and Mars use child slaves to give us candy bars. Oil companies kill thousands and poison the water table to get maximum profit from the gas we put in our cars. Laborers are beaten and starved to make us clothes and cellphones — we know this and we don’t care. We have virtually killed off our oceans with acid, warming and plastic — we know this and we don’t care.

    This is the world. It is covered in blood and is evil. It is also filled with beauty, kindness and hope. It is a less violent planet than it used to be. But stupidity and greed creates stupendous atrocities committed by governments and groups every day. A mosque in Canada was just set on fire, and we’re back to the free for all let’s kill random people of 9/11.

    On beaches, Syrian refugees have been watching their children die and starve, waiting to see if Western countries will at all let any of them live — that’s atrocity, that’s evil and blood on all our hands. And now, what ISIS exactly wanted to have happen has happen — Europe and large parts of the U.S. have decided to ban the refugees and kill their children over Paris, over the very same foe that sought to kill their kids. That’s in addition to the children of theirs we already killed as collateral damage in the bombings, including the one that France just did in revenge.

    So no, I’m not going to call ISIS pigfuckers or whatever dehumanizing, bigoted slur is being pushed. I’m not going to treat them as some sort of comic book super villain, the boogeyman or virulent cancer of being we’ve never seen before, when their evil is perfectly ordinary, run of the mill human evil we’ve seen countless times before and is part of a millenia long struggle in the Middle East. That’s just an excuse mechanism for atavistic violence.

    Again, a portion of ISIS are forced slaves. A portion of ISIS we’ve fought many times before — they aren’t new. And a portion of ISIS used to fight with us; they were our allies or allies of the Saudis (and they were partly financed by the Saudis initially,) fighting against Assad (who is now our ally instead of our enemy,) or factions in Iraq. They are the same old people we know, they just draped the name ISIS on themselves like a new dress and recruited or conscripted clueless young people. And when we tear up the dress, as we must, some of their people who lived will be freed to rebuild their lives if they can. Some of them will join other terrorist groups and go around the globe continuing to bomb. And some of them will go into the Iraqi and Syrian armies and become our allies again.

    And all of them will be normal human people who suffered from and/or committed acts of evil totally known and ordinary to humankind. Just like us, willfully and deliberately killing off the kids of Syrian refugees with a shrug. And pretending otherwise is not going to help your Muslim friend, Floored — it’s going to get him killed. And I’m sick of it.

  166. I have been reflecting on the kindness of the people who have helped us to learn that ISIS murdered 44 people in Beiruit on the day before they attacked Paris, since the vast majority of media ignored this. It does seem that most of the media thought that murdering people with brown skins wasn’t even significant. They were profoundly wrong, as John Donne wrote:

    No man is an island
    entire of itself
    It is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thy friends
    Or of mine were.
    Any man’s death diminishes me,
    Because I am involved in mankind,
    And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls.
    It tolls for thee.

  167. @mythago:
    “@Bill, do you also believe it’s irrelevant to talk about how hard the recession hit working-class and poor families, since wealthy people took a little bit of a haircut in the stock market?”

    In the context of this conversation, yes.

    “still not getting the point you thought you were making?”

    If that’s the case, after back-and-forth a couple of times, then it’s probably wasting the time of you, me, John Scalzi, and the rest of the participants to belabor it.

  168. I must admit to being one whose first reaction was ‘send them all away’ and your blog post has dragged me back from that hostile and negative reaction.

    Some of your blog posts (this one, on poverty , life on the easiest game setting) actually appear to be making me a better and more tolerant person than I was before.

    I must thank you for this as I prefer this me to that me. .

  169. Kat: “So no, I’m not going to call ISIS pigfuckers or whatever dehumanizing, bigoted slur is being pushed.”

    *snort* But killing them is ok?

    I dont know about you, but killing someone is order of more magnitude more “dehumanizing” than calling them bad names.

    And besides, people are pushing the name Daesh because calling them “ISIS” is in a way endorsing the idea that they are Islamic.

    You can call them whatever you want, but the push to not call them ISIS is first and foremost driven by the drive to *separate* their association from Islam. And again, if we have been launching thousands of bombing runs on daesh, then I question the concern about “dehumanizing” the people we as a nation have decided are ok to kill.

    Calling Daesh names isnt the same as trying to condemn all Islam for their actions.

  170. Well done. The one issue I have with this is when you say that ISIS is “not accurately representing the fundamentals of the religion it claims to represent”. Everything ISIS does is based on a strict, literal reading of the Quaran. Muhammad was not a peaceful guy. He had no problem robbing, kidnapping, raping, or murdering, and, like any cult, ISIS has taken on the personality of their leader.

    I agree with what a prior commenter said: Isolate them and cut off their supply lines, and let them whither away. But we should also be examining the environments that allow cultures like this to flourish.

  171. Tom. “If the children didn’t get conned into becoming jihadi monsters,”

    Mohamed Atta, 9/11 ringleader, was a fundamentalist, but nonviolent, Muslim who had a degree in architecture and studied in Germany. But the day he saw the Israeli “Grapes of Wrath” operation, which included the Qana massacre (Israel deliberately shelled a UN compound, killing civilians seeking refuge there) that was the day Atta signed up for a suicide mission.

    It isnt Islam who is “conning” children into becoming terrorists. Its history. Most people’s concept of history starts from the point in time where someone does them wrong. Anything before that, invluding any wrongs they did, simly do not exist.

    There wouldnt be a radical, extremist theocracy in Iran if America hadnt overthrown the secular, progressive democracy of Iran back in 1953, at the request of British Petroleum wanting cheap oil.

    Taking an army of high ranking mitary people in Iraq and rendering them broke and unemployed all but guaranteed they would take military action against us, the new iraq government, and use any means neccessary to regain their power, prestige, and money. Daesh wasnt conned into existence. Only someone wanting to avoid the responsibility of history would make so simple an assessment.

    America created Daesh.

  172. @Stevie,

    *sigh* just once I wished these exchanges would go off script. You missed questioning my patriotism in order to hit the trifecta.

    These Jihadists are human beings. Their existence is theirs to define on their own terms. Those terms do not have to be centered on the U.S.

    It dehumanizes them to suggest that their motivations and actions are solely determined by U.S. policy.

    For the record, I took incoming fire on three occasions in a combat zone. That is almost nothing compared to the number of incoming round received by other members of my family. And it is nothing comparied to what some of my friends have seen. I don’t advocate for keeping the military option on the table out of ignorance. I do so because taking it off the table makes the world a worse place – particularly for the people being victimized overseas.


    2006 is not 2009. 2006 was in the middle of a ton of darkness for Iraq. The tide had turned by 2009. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden were proclaiming Iraq to be a success in 2010 and 2011.

    FWIW, I was a big/vocal supporter of Mr. Obama’s Iraq policy until decided a full scale retreat was in order.


    I never claimed that western civilization were perfect. Just better. And it still isn’t even close.

    I’ll stand by that.


  173. I dont know about you, but killing someone is order of more magnitude more “dehumanizing” than calling them bad names.

    Not quite – there’s some Taoist thought that applies here (Chapter 31 of the Tao Te Ching) :

    A strong military, a tool of misfortune
    All things detest it
    Therefore, those who possess the Tao avoid it
    Honorable gentlemen, while at home, value the left
    When deploying the military, value the right

    The military is a tool of misfortune
    Not the tool of honorable gentlemen
    When using it out of necessity
    Calm detachment should be above all
    Victorious but without glory
    Those who glorify
    Are delighting in the killing
    Those who delight in killing
    Cannot achieve their ambitions upon the world

    Auspicious events favor the left
    Inauspicious events favor the right
    The lieutenant general is positioned to the left
    The major general is positioned to the right
    We say that they are treated as if in a funeral
    Those who have been killed
    Should be mourned with sadness
    Victory in war should be treated as a funeral

    Note in particular the last four lines – if you’re going to kill people, regard it as a failure, acknowledge them as people and mourn them. When you set out to kill, plan two funerals, one for them and one for yourself.

  174. @thesportpolice:

    And you have read the Qur’an, of course, and accompanying books on Islamic theology and jurisprudence? And what you say about the Prophet is based on a non-biased, critical analysis of the historical sources of the Prophet’s life, I am sure?

  175. Phoenician in a time of Romans: “if you’re going to kill people, regard it as a failure, acknowledge them as people and mourn them.”

    This bears repeating.

  176. Kat:

    “They are certainly on par with the Polish people who killed their Jewish neighbors, threw them in shallow graves and took their stuff, ”

    Yad Vashem has estimated the figure is on the order of 327 deaths from liberation to summer 1947. The Kielce pogrom is the most infamous with 42 deaths. There are concerns it was organized by the NKVD, but regardless it was abetted by underlying structural racism. Any number greater than 0 is horrible and despicable, but note this is not on the same scale as Daesh, nor was there a organized general political movement pushing for these deaths. This is against a backdrop of at least 100,000 deaths related to the Soviet occupation, with maybe a 1000 Jews dying on both sides of the conflict. (If you want more context, 2.8 M Polish Jews and 2.7 Polish gentiles, 82% and 12% of pre-war population respectively, were killed by the Germans during the war.) (Poland was also suffering from massive social and economic chaos with a large amount of “general banditry,” but that is a pretty good parallel to Syria/Iraq.)

    In general Yad Vashem did not find Poles to be more likely to turn on Jews than Western Europeans occupied by the Nazis. (I am not adding the Righteous Among Nations argument here because I don’t want to deflect from the horror of actual anti-Semitic acts by Poles or imply that Poles were “better” than other people either. I also assume that the Nazis committed more crimes against Poles and incited more resistance because the Poles were next on the List, not because the Poles were necessarily more heroic than the Dutch or whomever.)

    I would like to know which impression I am supposed to be getting here. Are you making an inflammatory comment about all/most Polish people or are you specifying the small number of people who actually committed such atrocities? If someone wrote a sentence on the formula: X are on par with the Black men who mug and rape white women, I would assume that person was a racist, even if they argued they were actually restricting their claims to specific African American individuals. And even if they could cherry-pick quotes of African Americans who advocated sexual violence against white women as a political tactic and even if they had statistics showing X number of white women are assaulted by African American men annually. But you still have some street cred here, so I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. However, at the very least, it was a terrible turn of phrase.

  177. Dann : “just once I wished these exchanges would go off script.”

    You’re the one quoting the playbook. The Iraq civil war started when the occupation began, and only ramped up after Saddam was executed and all the Iraqi generals were fired. There was never “peace” in Iraq after 2003, there was only american news reporters too clueless to know shia from sunni, unable to give any context to the endless violence they were reporting, and bored american armchair generals thinking they had the solution. Iraq was broken in 2003 and never recovered, Shisinski predicted it in 2002/2003, and Bush fired him and ignored his advice, so the blame for Iraq falling apart lands squarely on those who launched the invasion in 2003.


    Greg: “I dont know about you, but killing someone is order of more magnitude more “dehumanizing” than calling them bad names.”

    Phoenician : “victory in war should be treated as a funeral.”

    Yes. But part of that funeral is for the loss of your own humanity for killing someone.

  178. @Dann: This isn’t about Western civilization being imperfect. It’s about your drawing lines in the wrong places. If you want to pretend this is the US/Euroteam vs. the Middle East Team, then just say so; but if you really believe this is about a pluralistic society with freedom of speech and worship, then don’t confuse that with “Western civilization”. Plenty of ‘them’ want exactly that kind of society. Plenty of ‘us’ don’t, and seem to object to jihadis purely out of some sense that it’s only okay when we do that for *our* God.

  179. @ thesportspolice
    I don’t know what you know about Islam, but I used to be Bible champion in my Sunday school class. I don’t know much about Muhammad, but I can tell you that Abraham pimped his wife to Pharaoh, Samuel fired Saul as King of Israel for being insufficiently genocidal to the Amalekites, etc., etc.
    I’d like to know why Muhammad is uniquely worse than they, and why fundamentalist Muslims are worse than fundamentalists of any other religion. In the US, for example, a lot of self-identified Christians, including pastors, loudly declared that African slavery was ordained by God in the Bible, just to name one historical example.
    If you can’t show that Scalzi is wrong to say that the problem is humans’ general weakness for fundamentalism and violence, rather than the specific weakness of one religion, your argument falls to the ground.

  180. Dear Bill (and Jay and several other people),

    “I wholeheartedly agree that most Muslims aren’t terrorists.”

    You mean, like 99.98% of them?! Because approximately 1 in 5000 Muslims is an Isis warrior.

    Think about that. I can tell you (from the results of numerous polls in the US) that at least one in 5,000 American Christians is bugfuck crazy, too. In fact, pretty much one in 5,000 of any group. And as for sympathizers? Look at the polls on the number of Americans who sympathize with the goals of Operation Rescue, Even though they personally wouldn’t firebomb a clinic or kill a doctor. They’re out there in the double digits, too.

    And just as with Muslim “sympathizers,” they’re nowhere in the majority.

    So you’re looking to punish a majority of people for a minority who aren’t “right-thinking” along with a insignificantly small fraction who are genuinely destructive.

    That makes a whole lot of sense.

    Those wars you want to start (the euphemism “military solution” doesn’t boil down to anything different)? The lesson we have from pretty much every single such war in the last half-century is that you end up killing 100 to 1000 times as many people as died in what instigated that war. I’m not talking about combatants on the battlefield. I’m just talking about ordinary people who are trying to live their lives.

    Yes, Isis may kill thousands of such people around the world each year. And figuring out how to stop them would be a good thing to do. But going to war is guaranteed to kill hundreds of thousands of people.

    You really think it’s okay that 100 people who never did anything wrong should die for each terrorist-instigated death? Because that’s what you think you need to do to preserve your way of life?

    Honestly, I don’t see how that makes you better than (or for that matter, different from) them. In fact, if it’s the killing that brands them as evil, then it makes you 100 times worse.

    Shit happens. Really, you do your best stop shit from happening. But creating a much, much bigger pile of shit is not that way. It’s a lot, lot worse than doing nothing and just living with the shit.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery
    — Digital Restorations

  181. thesportspolice: “But we should also be examining the environments that allow cultures like this to flourish.”

    What does that phrase mean: “examining”?

    How do you translate that into action items? What do you plan on doing? Specific examples?

    Other than rendering subjective judgement, what objective difference will this “examination” bring about?

    I only ask because you are the third, fourth, of fifth person on this thread to say something like this, and every time I try to translate into some physical action is being suggested, it always rings of someone saying “nice religion you got there, shame if something were to happen to it”. Are you making a veiled threat towards the religion of Islam?

    Or perhaps more importantly, would it be reasonable for a muslim were to read your post and take it to be an implied threat? Because thats how you are all coming across for me.

    If not, what real world action would “examine” entail that isnt pointless mccarthyism spy-on-every-muslim-because-they-are-all-terrorists-in-the-making nonsense? What are you suggesting we actually DO?

  182. @ctein
    “Dear Bill . . . So you’re looking to punish a majority of people . . . Those wars you want to start. . . ”

    Maybe I’m too biased, but I can’t see anything in my posts that would lead someone to believe I want to do either of those things. But for the record, and to be perfectly clear, I don’t want to punish a majority of Muslims, or start a war, or have others do it in my name.

    Usually, someone who writes as well as you (I recently read Saturn Run, based on the Big Idea here) reads with a little more comprehension.

  183. @Greg

    Things had calmed way down after 2009. There were great many things that didn’t work prior to that point. There were also a great many things that did contribute to the beginnings of a transition to an Iraqi version of representative and open government.


    When it comes to the relative merits of western civilization to the Middle East, I have millions of people from that region on my side. While some undoubtedly headed for Jordan or Egypt or Saudi Arabi, the vast majority of them headed for the west instead of other Middle Eastern countries.

    If you won’t trust my opinion then perhaps you will trust theirs?

    We can always do better as a country and as a larger culture. But in this comparison, we seem to do be doing quite well. Buy a large margin.


  184. Dear Bill,

    Well, I can’t get mad at you when you lob compliments, now can I? [s]

    You didn’t specifically advocate war; others addressed in the salutation did. But you very much did do the “not all Muslims…. but…” thing in multiple posts, as did they. You’re talking about subjecting a huge group to unusual levels of scrutiny (and that never goes anywhere good) because of the behavior of a statistically insignificant minority. As you said, you’ve been reading Scheier; you know how well that’ll work out.

    So, if I’ve far overstepped what you consciously intended, my apologies tendered here and now for misreading your intentions. Intentions or not, though, it’s where those policies lead.

    pax / Ctein

  185. ctein — accepted (and I meant it about your book). I think a fair reading of my posts is “not all Muslims, but the ones who are associated with jihad/terrorism/violence against the ideals of Western civ.” At least, that’s what I meant. And that’s what any reasonable investigation that leads to useful intelligence about the bad guys will have to do. If that group is huge, it’s on them — not us.

    You and I can reasonably disagree about how far “associated” should go.

  186. Private Iron :

    I wasn’t the one who started trying to put ISIS on a scale of atrocities. Floored and others did and started making ridiculous comparisons. Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc. killed millions of people, committed atrocities on millions more. ISIS is nowhere near those numbers or scope of territory, so claiming that ISIS is equivalent to the evil of those cases, and is therefore a special evil beyond and above, while other smaller cases of atrocities and killing are somehow not on par with Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, is a lie. It’s an aggrandizement of the scope of ISIS as a threat, and it’s used to justify killing innocent people, attacking innocent people and governments performing all sorts of evil atrocities themselves.

    The Poles and others in Europe during WWII who exterminated and tortured Jews, the conflicts in the Balkans in which various groups slaughtered each other over territories, the Buddhists who slaughtered Muslims in Myanmar, the Rwanda civil war slaughters — these are all regional atrocities that are more comparable to what has happened with ISIS than Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot in terms of numbers and scope. Don’t like those ones, pick others. There are plenty of them and they’re all evil. Every country has committed horrible evil and atrocities and deaths, the bigger ones on grand scales. That’s the point, as you very fucking well know.

    ISIS is not special. ISIS is not worldwide genocide. ISIS is very human, very common evil that we’ve been dealing with for decades. All of the things that ISIS are doing are also going on by other groups of people and governments, Muslims and non, all over the world. The PR campaign to paint ISIS as a supreme bogeyman, and/or that Muslims, Arabs, Syrians, etc. are somehow inherently more evil than the rest of the world’s evil doing populations, is a bigoted game to justify additional evil and atrocities, including continuing to kill off Syrian refugee children. And if that’s what you want to go running around promoting, go to it and fuck off. I don’t care what “impression” you have of me.

  187. Dann665

    And you still haven’t explained the incomprehensible second paragraph of your post which I questioned; we are still none the wiser as to what you mean by it. You are determined to accord people the status of ‘victims’ whilst resolutely declining to identify who (in general terms) they are and why they are victims.

    Equally, if you want to claim some sort of special status for those who have been shot at by Arabs then I qualify; in fact I get extra points because I was a baby at the time. I’ve managed to live a happy life without once imagining that the desire of the Egyptian people to expel foreign military forces from their country was in some way immoral or unethical; I would feel exactly the same way about expelling foreign military forces from England.

    The US chose to pour vast amounts of money and arms to religious fundamentalists to use them to fight a proxy war against Russia, notwithstanding the blindingly obvious facts that your enemies’ enemies are not your friends, and that once those religious fundamentalists had disposed of the ungodly Russians they would set about disposing of the ungodly Americans, together with all the other ungodly people in the world.

    They sowed the seed and the world is reaping the whirlwind, whether it’s Beirut or Paris people are dying as a result. Imagining that we can fix this by starting some more wars is as idiotic as the original game plan…

  188. @Dann. those “millions of people” (who presumably are fleeing war zones, not rushing to European cafes so they can debate politics) are from the Middle East, are they not? So presumably if they value freedom of speech and faith and other liberal civic virtues, then, er, that would suggest that millions of people in the Middle East do in fact believe in the things you think are peculiar to Western civilizations…meaning that in fact, Middle Eastern cultures are just like Western cultures in terms of enshrining Enlightenment values? Because otherwise, I don’t see how you square the circle of large swaths of Americans who agree with Islamic fundamentalists on all the important points except God’s given name as ‘exceptions’ but call Middle Easterners who, by your own admission, value a progressive society as ‘the rule’.

    If you want to champion secular civic society, equality under the law, and freedom of faith and speech, I’m right there with you. It’s when you start to pretend that you can tell who holds those values depending on where they were born and what god they worship that I’m afraid I must decline.

  189. Nice. Nice read, John Scalzi.
    Before I burst your bubble. I am a Muslim.
    It’s not any hijacking of my religion. It’s prescribed for in our religion to do what they, ISIS did. The verses of violence in some form or other, are present in the Qu’ran. The sooner ISLAM seeks for a change on how that religion is taught the better for all of us.The Qu’ran by the way is immutable, so they say and Muslims will die or kill before the Qu;ran is reduce from it’s ‘pristine’ condition. So, big deal. we will die for nothing too. Not me.

    The sooner global human race accepts that it’s indoctrination from Islam, the better for us, planet earth and it’s diverse people. Not many are easily swayed by insane indoctrination. Not me.


    We Muslims need to get real about OUR causative terrorism. Here’s my take on blinkered Muslims, Muslims pretending to be blinkered or blind as bats.

    Unblinkered Muslims and non-Muslims are not so silent anymore or have you not noticed.

    Keeping it simple.

    Terrorism will end when we MUSLIMS follow the Christians, the Jews and the Hindus in removing, ignoring, refining or silencing the VERSES OF VIOLENCE from passages in their holy books, the Torah, the Bible and the Danda and RETEACH how the Quran is taught, starting with our children in the madrassas, the Muslim religious schools.

    Other than that, talk is cheap and hypocritical.

    We Muslims can talk, we can takiyya, tawira, kitman, muruna all we want, history is replete with Muslim terrorism. Muslims, handle that part of your terrorism before poking INTO other terrorisms, before we globally get it back, gobsmacked back in our faces by all the other religions and then say, “See, they do it too!”

    This is the root, the trunk, the branches, the leaves and the whole forest of the ‘root’ of the problem.

    Before the world too, loses the Muslim Caliphate plot.

  190. Bill: I can’t see anything in my posts that would lead someone to believe I want to do either of those things

    I believe that a random sample of readers would find that this:

    Bill (earlier):I wholeheartedly agree that most Muslims aren’t terrorists. Most airline passengers aren’t trying to blow the plane up, either. But we still send everyone through a metal detector.

    would be interpreted by many within the bell curve to be a vague advocation for… something… on a large scale. EVERYONE goes through a metal detector => therefore => an implication that most Muslims should go through… something… probably less pleasant that a TSA body cavity search too.

    several people on this thread have advocated for a position that … something… should be done and that it is reasonable that … something… be done to all muslims… but they always avoid saying what specifically should be done… and thus far, everyone has refused to answer my question when I ask them for specifics.

    The point being, you might know that you a perfectly reasonable, progressive, all religions are equal, kind of person who would never advocate for something like internment camps, religious tests for citizenship, loyalty tests for all muslims, or any other such nonsense that Americans have done to others in the past.


    People who DO advocate for those sorts of things often dance around direct advocacy and instead resort to dog whistles, innuendo, implications, and other indirect methods of speech to imply such measures while still being able to deny them if such measures come under attack. In other words, they talk an awful lot like the way you did. “Not all muslims are terrorists… but…..” followed by something that indirectly hints that maybe we should test all of them for terrorism anyway.

    Nice religion you have here, shame if something would happen to it.

    Maybe you can’t see it because you know in your heart of hearts that was never your intent, but to people who can’t see your soul, your words ring an awful lot like others who are implying action must be taken, something must be done, and done to most if not all Muslims.

    Kat: “claiming that ISIS is equivalent to the evil of those cases, and is therefore a special evil beyond and above, while other smaller cases of atrocities and killing are somehow not on par with Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, is a lie. It’s an aggrandizement of the scope of ISIS as a threat, and it’s used to justify killing innocent people”

    This is utter Bullshit.

    Daesh is not Hitler, to be sure. But they are fucking evil. And me saying that isn’t me trying to justify killing innocent people.

    Certainly, we should be careful with the words we use. We don’t want to get so lazy in our words that we condemn all Islam because of the acts of a few evil fucking assholes. But those guys who planned and executed the attacks on Paris? Those are some evil mother fuckers.

    And as long as those evil mother fuckers have every intent on killing more innocent people, then a very brutal shitty calculus comes up that has to weigh how many innocent people may die if we do nothing versus how many innocent people we might kill in collateral damage if we do something + plus any deaths that may result of any blowback coming from doing something. Its a shitty calculus, we harm our own humanity doing the math, but we are responsible for the outcome no matter which path we choose. If we choose to do nothing, then we have to do so with total responsibility that that’s what we chose and we are willing to accept the consequences. If we chose military action, then we have to do so with total responsibility that that’s what we chose to do and we are willing to accept the consequences.

    That’s not me trying JUSTIFY KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE. That’s me trying to be as honest as I can, as responsible as I can, as mature as I can, for the choices we face. And the people who did this are evil fucking assholes, and I’m perfectly wiling to accept full responsibility for that statement and all it entails. And at the same time, if you want to bugger it around and pretend that’s me saying we need to turn the entire middle east to glass and deport all muslims, then that’s all on you. You made that up.

    And maybe you made it up because you want to remove that language from the table because you want to remove the calculus from the table. Maybe you dont think war is ever a good idea, that it always ends poorly. And there is a long history that suggests that might be the case. And if that’s what you were saying, I’d be fine with that and I’d have respect for that.

    But you’re not saying that. Instead, what you’re doing is inserting into my head what you want to say I “really mean” when I say Daesh is a bunch of evil mother fuckers, and what you’re inserting isn’t true. What you are doing is called mind reading a strawman. “If you say BLAH, then you MUST be doing it because in your mind you really want to justify killing innocents.” No. But thanks for playing. It’s a great rhetorical tool because it gets into the “Prove to me you are not a racist” kind of nonsense. You assert I’m trying to justify mass murder, and then that’s true until disproven. But you skip over the fact that your assertion is an unproven premise, and more importantly, unprovable. It is, for all intents and purposes, spectral evidence. And it means you’re playing dirty pool in this conversation.

    If you want to take military action off the table, say so. Claim it. If you want people to speak a certain way about Daesh, advocate for it. Take a stand and make your case. But do NOT mind read that I am advocating for killing innocents simply because I use words you disagree with. It doesn’t fly, and its a rotten trick.

    As for the words we use to describe Daesh, I think John Oliver hits it:

  191. John,

    My first visit to your blog and its been interesting and well worth the time.

    I would like to say that I completely agree with your original post.

    Now for my other reactions to the comments:

    I think Kat Goodwin got the closest as far as ISIS motivation goes. The leaders are interested in power and Islamic fundamentalism is a vehicle or tool used to garner support. Although I don’t believe their goal is to just regain power in Iraq or Syria. They will work to extend their power as long and as far as they can. History sets the precedent.

    Evil exists in humanity, at personal, local, national, and international levels. ISIS is international and expanding.

    What is to be done? Lots of platitudes here but no real, concrete measures or actions. Kind of like changing your Facebook picture with a superimposed French flag. Looks cute, but doesn’t mean anything (in other words, the terrorists are laughing at you). Opinions and lofty goals mean little without actionable solutions.

    The first short-term solution is to stop the killings. To do this, someone will need to remove the ISIS leaders from power. Who will do it and how long it takes will determine how many more terrorist attacks and innocent deaths there will be.

    The final solution here is societal and must ensure that evil can not spawn again. This will take lots of time. After WW2, we occupied Japan for 6 years and Germany for 10 years before they were ready to rejoin the world as friendly and functioning states. I think this will take longer. I think it will take longer still without support from the western democracies. (Please note that I DID NOT say we should occupy the Middle East).

    I suspect a lot of tunes here will change when the bombing or massacre occurs in a SoHo cafe, a San Francisco coffee shop, or a DC club. (Thus implying a commenter’s family or friends were injured or killed – also sorry for being US-centric but I think the hypocrisy of this is more a US issue than non-US).

    Finally, there is a lot of bigotry amongst many of the the enlightened commenters toward people who may think differently than themselves (i.e. Christians and political conservatives are two examples that come to mind…). Nice.


  192. @Roger
    “Finally, there is a lot of bigotry amongst many of the the enlightened commenters toward people who may think differently than themselves (i.e. Christians and political conservatives are two examples that come to mind…)”
    Specific examples, please, or nobody can evaluate the accuracy of your statement.

    @ those demanding denunciations of Daesh from Muslims
    There’s a Youtube video called #notinmyname made by British Muslims, to add to the statements already made.

  193. @Roger: As one of the people you might be passive-aggressively alluding to: I stand by what I said, and I will stop being abrasive toward the groups I mentioned when they stop saying that my friends and I don’t deserve basic human rights, just as I’ll stop calling the group we’re discussing “pigfuckers” when they stop advocating killing anyone who disagrees with them. If that bugs you…sorry, not sorry.

    In general: I’m not particularly pacifist or turn-the-other-cheek-ish, and I certainly don’t have a problem with vilifying the people you mean to vilify. I celebrated when we got Bin Laden, and when Falwell and Phelps died, and I don’t regret that. I don’t think Daesh are special and new in re: evil–*some* variety of godawful semi-excuses for humanity has pretty much been always with us, we just have them in different forms over here right now–and it is worth remembering that some members of any army are slaves, or otherwise forced into it, and that it’s easier for pigfuckers to emerge as leaders when we help create an atmosphere of desperation and ignorance, so maybe we should stop doing that.

  194. Roger: “Finally, there is a lot of bigotry amongst many of the the enlightened commenters toward people who may think differently than themselves (i.e. Christians”

    BIGOTRY towards CHRISTIANS???? HERE????

    Direct quote, or I call bullshit.

    Unless, you mean THIS kind of “bigotry towards christians”:

    If thats what you meant, then yes we do have a lot of that here.

    Do you also believe there is a “War on Christmas”? Is that what you mean by “bigotry”?

  195. @Greg — I can’t control what you read into my post. But I’ll say again, to think that it means that I feel like a large group of people should be punished, or that I advocate a war, is so far beyond what the words actually say as to boggle me.

    When I read discussions like this, and I see the back-and-forth where one person comments on the posts of another, I think I get a sense of what a person believes not from their own direct statements, but from how they interpret the statements of other people.

  196. @Roger: you are accusing people of imaginary hypocrisy based on your unproven predictions that those you disagree with will suffer terrible things* and surely change their minds, i.e. acknowledge their wrongity wrongness, and won’t they be sorry then. As well, your predictions are themselves based on some rather ugly assumptions – that not one of the people you’re sneering at at has ever been touched by terrorism in any way, and that universally, people who have directly suffered at the hands of terrorists react with bigotry and hate. The reaction of the French people to the Paris bombing – opening their doors to those in need, and continuing to take refugees from Syria – rather gives the lie to that last one, by the way.

    Speaking of which, it isn’t bigotry to observe that just as there are Muslim terrorist groups and Muslim governments behaving badly, there are Christian terrorist group and extremist conservative groups and Christian governments behaving badly, and that for significant portions of the US, the only reason that minority religions have the freedom of worship and equality promised in the Constitution is that the government enforces those protections at gunpoint.

    *Let’s also not pretend that Americans would be united in mourning if SoHo or San Francisco suffered a terrorist attack.

  197. @Stevie

    I’m trying not to go off in full diatribe mode. I have a dictionary and a thesaurus and I’m not afraid to use ’em!


    I respectfully suggest that your lack of comprehension may be due to your lack of considering the possibility that I’m a decent person. I try to keep up on most current events. I talk to people. I listen to people.

    Some of the people that I have listened to have been Muslim women. They were standing in front of me and not playing chairborn commander. I have heard what they have to say about their lives in the U.S. I have heard what they have been told my Muslim men in the U.S.

    IMHO, one key marker of trouble within Islam is the treating of women as chattel. We have Muslims in the U.S. that believe that their wives and daughters are their property. Those girls and women are victims of the sort of authoritarian version of Islam that we have been discussing.

    Again, this probably isn’t the condition for most Muslims in the U.S. But it is bad enough that I didn’t have to go looking for it to find it. It is much worse in many Muslim majority countries, IMHO.

    I do not believe that being shot at by Muslims confers any special priveledges. You apparently do.

    And then there’s the nonsense about abandoning the field of battle; in my experience that sort of nonsense is confined to armchair warriors who’ve never been anywhere near a battlefield.

    It appears to be your opinion that the only people qualified to use the phrase “field of battle” are people that have been on it. I have.

    I will say that I agree that abandoning Afghanistan after the Afghanis had tossed out the Soviets was a bad idea. Staying and helping them rebuild would have been a better choice that could have improved our chances at avoiding a whole bunch of nastiness.

    However, I disagree that the motivations of the current Jihadists can only exist relative to the U.S. and/or Europe. They have made their motivations clear. They selected 9/11 as the date for a massive attack for a reason. Big hint – the U.S. didn’t even exist on that date in history. Europe was barely aware that the Americas existed at that point.


    I’m glad we agree. Most of the people fleeing the Middle East appear to share a preference for the values that are enshrined in Western governments. However, Middle Eastern nations appear to have a poor record at incorporating those values into their respective governments.

    If you want to champion secular civic society, equality under the law, and freedom of faith and speech, I’m right there with you.

    It’s nice to be in such good company.

    It’s when you start to pretend that you can tell who holds those values depending on where they were born and what god they worship that I’m afraid I must decline.

    Y’know, my mouth opens only so wide. Perhaps a good start would be to stop stuffing it with words.

    I never said that. It isn’t even close.


  198. Kat Godwin: you know that saying “Gypsies steal cars” and “French people steal cars” register very differently. I am sure that a Romany has purloined a motor vehicle at some time in the past, but if I make a point of using them as an example, particularly if I add some colorful language in my example, I am not just talking about criminal behavior in a neutral manner; I am propagating a stereotype with a long discursive history. Ironically, a lot of the Polish stereotypes in the Anglophonic world can be traced back to Goebbels’ propaganda machine in the 1930s.

    You invite us to add our own examples if we don’t like the ones you provide. Geesh. You are the one who is trying to communicate a point here. I should have to re-edit your posts in my mind so I get a version that doesn’t offend me? Thanks.

    You also did not address the question of whether ISIS actually fits the examples you used, either in scale or in functional terms. I suppose we can recast your argument with better analogies in our spare time as well.

    Since you indicated on another thread that you considered my post here trolling, I will simply say first that you actually offended me with your choice of phrasing; I am not just playing games. Second, that I went out of my way to say that I did NOT want you to come back with proof of what you actually wanted to say, viz-viz the potential slur at least. I just wanted you to rethink ever saying it again in that way because it’s bigoted and worse, it’s lazy bigotry. Third, if I communicated any of these points badly, it’s my responsibility, within reason, for the miscommunication. Going by some of your recent posts, it’s a responsibility you should take more seriously as well.

  199. After reading some appalling things, on line, justifying the Paris attacks, I felt compelled to write something (below). I assure you I do NOT include all Muslims as terrorists, that would be blatantly absurd and totally untrue. (And by the way, I in no way necessarily agree with all western foreign policy, far from it… In reference to that subject below.)


    “You are sitting at home with your loving children; you are watching TV in peace and quiet. Suddenly 4 Islamic terrorists burst into the room, spraying bullets everywhere. One of your children, your 4 year old daughter, is shot in the head before your very eyes; she collapses in a pool of blood. You scream in horror and in desperation and with fear. One terrorist grabs your remaining child and begins to rape her, after this she is then also shot in the head, and you begin to wonder if this is really happening, but unfortunately it is all too real. It is not a dream, it is reality. You are the only survivor; you are left alone in a daze and in confusion and you wish that you were also dead, rather than having to face the horror of what has just happened. You later discover that similar atrocities have been inflicted upon many of your neighbours also, who were also indiscriminately singled out for torture and death, along with many of their poor children. The final death toll is 150 innocent people.

    If this scenario were to happen to you, how would you feel? Suppose that others, even those that you thought were your friends, started to come out of the wood work and started to somehow justify this Islamic terrorist outrage by saying that they had their reasons for killing your children? They would say that due to USA and British interference in the Middle East, that the death of your children was the logical result and response of evil Terrorists to the meddling of the west, in what they say, are ‘their affairs’? Would such ridiculous explanations help to make you feel better? No! Rightfully so you would feel deep guttural outrage! Anyone that tries to mitigate or lessen the gross actions of terrorists in any form, by telling you that they had their reasons… are lunatics and nut jobs. And yet out there, on-line, that is exactly what the crazies are doing! They have become apologists for terrorists by their offering to them, what seems to them, viable excuses that make little sense, for ISIL to do what they do best, murder, rape, behead, slaughter and maim. No amount of what may be considered ‘bad foreign policy’ (exhibited by the West) can be used to excuse the evil done by the Islamic Terrorists, not anymore it can’t!

    The outrage in Paris should be condemned, by all, for what it truly is, and that is a totally evil act of inhumanity and of abhorrent profanity on a civilised world, it cannot be justified one little bit, not one jot, it is pure evil! You should be standing 100 percent with the people of Paris and with all the French people, there should be nothing less. And yet to my deep consternation I now observe the maggots, the nut job conspirators, the “false flag” idiots, (and we never went to the Moon types) who are presently telling us that what occurred in Paris was an ‘inside job’. That it was all planned and the French government and their western allies don’t really mind murdering their own citizens to accomplish some hidden secret agenda. If you believe this bullshit, then at the same time you are spitting on the memory and on the graves of all those poor innocents that were slaughtered in Paris. You gainfully choose to mitigate, with the use of fairly tales, the factual actions of terrorist atrocities and obstinately fail to hold them directly responsible for the evil they perpetrate, but you offer them a way out of this. If you have one jot of sympathy for what these terrorists have done, by diverting and lessening their responsibility for their desperate, despicable attack, then you are compounding what they have done. Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, can justify what these Islamic terrorists have done, NOTHING! Not U.S. Foreign policy and its… (as some believe) ‘interference’ in the Middle east can justify it, just as the slaughter of two children, while they were peacefully watching TV within the privacy of their own home with their loving parent, can in any way be justified.

    Those of you out there that are muddying the waters by stating that such evil terrorist actions were as a result of foreign policy are basically making yourselves apologists for their actions, by doing this you are mitigating the wicked actions of terrorists. You are to some degree giving them an excuse in the murder of your OWN children, because IF they were to murder your children, because of foreign policy, then in effect you must be agreeing that they would have had grounds to murder your children, that logically follows, does it not? Then you would sympathise somehow with terrorists in that action would you, in the slaughter of your own offspring!!! But of course we all know that if such were to happen to you and your kin, that you would quickly condemn the killers TOTALLY! You have to realise that nothing, NOTHING, can justify what these Islamic psychopaths have done in Paris…. Nothing!

    ISIS have claimed full responsibility for the Paris attack, do not sympathise with them by giving them some ridiculous excuse or unjustifiable reasons for what they have done. I ask you all to justly condemn their actions 100%, DO NOT condone them by giving them a way out of their evil by blaming it all on foreign policy. Don’t dare! Have some respect for the dead that have been wrongly, unjustly annihilated in Paris. I say…Je Suis Charlie.”

  200. Dear Paul,

    “Those of you out there that are muddying the waters by stating that such evil terrorist actions were as a result of foreign policy are basically making yourselves apologists for their actions”

    No. Very much no.

    An explanation is not an excuse. it’s never an excuse. It’s an explanation.

    Back when I was in high school (pre the US cultural revolution I might add, so you can’t blame it on all “them radical types”) it was taught as a standard part of history that one of the factors behind the rise of the Nazi party and Hitler in Germany was the failure of the League of Nations and the punitive measures taken by the victorious nations towards Germany, along with the Great Depression.

    Not once was it ever suggested, or even hinted at, that this in any way excused Hitler and the Nazis. The thought never entered anyone’s mind. But it was considered an important part of history to learn WHY things happen.

    More modernly, I entirely understand and can explain how US foreign policy and interests produced its myriad military incursions into Central and Latin America as well as the two wars in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Does this mean I in any way approve of or excuse the US government’s murderous actions? Not even close.

    You want to go after people who **explicitly** say that ISIS is justified? Be my guest. But understanding and explaining their behavior is NOT an apology, not by explication nor implication. Rejecting those efforts is subscribing to willful ignorance. Sticking your figurative fingers in your ears and shrieking, “I don’t care, I don’t need to care why it happened, ’cause it’s just evilevilevil?” That’s pretty damned useless. Worse than useless.

    pax / Ctein

  201. What pax/Ctein said.

    Also, Sun Tzu–not exactly a hippie–advises knowing your enemy.

    In parallel, let’s think about serial killers for a second. (I know, but…look, I only have a few real areas of knowledge here.)

    Most experts agree that most serial killers suffered some degree of abuse in their childhood. Acknowledging this doesn’t make, say, Bundy any less culpable for his crimes, or any less a horrible mad-dog excuse for a human being. However, recognizing that connection *can* be helpful in predicting and stopping future killers.

    Likewise: Daesh members, minus anyone forced into it, are absolutely horrible shitstains with a hideous ideology. However, there are reasons that this ideology took hold to the degree it did, and that the people advocating it could gain power, weapons, etc; many of these reasons have to do with Western, especially US, foreign policy. Recognizing that might be able to help us stop the current organization; it will almost certainly help us reduce the likelihood of future such movements.

    They made a choice to be evil.* *We* helped create an environment in which evil could spread easily and do a lot of harm. Seeing that clearly and taking into account is not apologism, it’s trying to stop this from happening in the future.

    Also, hyperbolic thriller-movie scenarios and blatant appeals to emotion don’t strike me as a particularly good basis for evaluating a political situation or a potential military response.

    All of that said: if people are actually posting conspiracy “false flag” bullshit or the equivalent of the 9/11 “truther” ridiculousness, those people need to fuck off behind a barn and die, because what the actual hell, conspiracy weirdos? No. I’ve been lucky enough not to see any of that on my feed, and my sympathies if you have.

    * Or so I believe, and the whole problem-of-free-will question is neither one for this forum nor one I’m wildly interested in, being neither a philosophy major nor currently stoned.

  202. Dear Isabel,

    A real knowledge of serial killers…

    OK, now that’s scary.

    pax / Ctein

    PS, This brings to mind my favoritest funny (and so creepily true) line from The Addams Family movie:

    Wednesday (when asked about her Halloween costume), “This is my costume. I’m a homicidal maniac- they look just like everyone else.”

  203. @ctein: Ha! Love that line.

    As for the serial killers…well, I was a creepy adolescent. Plus, reading Helter Skelter or Deviant on the train generally keeps That Guy from talking to me.

  204. Paul: “Those of you out there that are muddying the waters by stating that such evil terrorist actions were as a result of foreign policy are basically making yourselves apologists”

    in 1953, the CIA overthrow the secular, progressive, democratic government of Iran because British Petroleum wanted cheap oil. The Shah was installed as a puppet. He ruled for 25 years, staying in power with the help of America, and by imprisoning, torturing, and murdering tens of thousands of people. In 1979, the Iranian revolution overthrew the Shah. Many moderates had already left the country. And what came to power was a radical, extremist Islamic theocracy in the Ayatollah Khomeini.

    Who is pure evil and who is pure good in that history? Because we certainly don’t want to “muddy the waters” by talking about how American foreign policy had anything to do with that, right?

    Iran and Iraq got into a war over territory and oil soon after. By 1982, it was clear that Iran was winning. We hated Iran, so we decided to take Iraq off the “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list, give them lots of money and military support, and encourage other Western countries to sell them chemical and biological weapons. The Center for Disease Control sent Saddam Anthrax samples that could be used to create weapons. Saddam ended up using WMD’s on Iran and on his own people, the Kurds. He actually instituted what can only be described as “ethnic cleansing” of the Kurds. Saddam used WMD’s to kill tens of thousands of people in the 80’s. The UN tried more than once to pass a resolution condemning Iraq for using WMD’s, but every time, the US pressured the resolutions to be watered down to be rendered pointless. By the end of the 80’s, Saddam had hundreds of tons of chemical agents spread throughout tens of thousands of artillery shells and rockets. All of it from the West.

    This lead directly to the WMD “crisis” of the 90’s and 00’s. Both US weapons inspector Scott Ritter (1990’s) and UN weapons inspector Hans Blix (2003) reported that Iraq had been 90% disarmed and that work could be finished in a few months. Bush invaded anyway.

    Again, explain to me how talkign about America’s foreign policy toward Iraq in the 80’s would “muddy the waters” when discussing the WMD disarmament process of the 90’s and 00’s.

    Do you hold that Iraq was pure evil and Americ and the West were pure good in that history?

    I do admit, it has an appeal to it. Keepign things black and white simplifies a lot of history class.

  205. JS — Not a problem. I can’t stop them from nattering at me further, though, like some of them enjoy doing, as you know.

    We were having dinner with an old friend who has been working with the UN on hot spots. She was telling us about killings of Muslims in African countries, causing many Muslims to flee from one country to another. She told us about a guy, a Syrian lawyer and well known activist, who stayed in Syria even though it was very dangerous, helping to get refugees out of the country. Finally he had to flee, but the country he went to is rebuffing refugees and not doing UN registration. He has family in Europe but that country won’t let him come, even though everybody in the field knows well who he is, because he did not get UN registered in the country that he entered from Syria. He is probably going to have to go back into Syria, where he’s in high danger of being killed. And this will likely be a problem with lots of the refugees.

    She told us about how the instability of the Syrian government was indeed the big issue (and the reason ISIS could arise.) They can’t just have Assad immediately step down or it will rip the toppling cake apart, so it’s another long negotiation of various factions over transitional changes, including the lurking Muslim Brotherhood in the wings, which tried to turn Egypt into a version of ISIS. This is all way more complicated than people want to pretend it is. And the Syrian refugees, Muslim and non, are going to get crushed a lot in the middle, as refugees tend to do.

    Meanwhile Trump, still the leading primary Republican presidential candidate, thinks we should make all Muslims in America, including the citizens, have some special form of I.D. and be in a special database, reject all Syrian refugees and send back the few already here, while other sitting U.S. politicians want to set up concentration camps for the refugees. An Ethiopian Christian Uber driver was attacked by a bigoted passenger, 53% of Canadians don’t want the Syrian refugees to show up there, and on and on with the delusional viciousness.

    As for the tenants of Islam being that women and children are property, yes that’s true. That is also a major tenant of Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and every major, established organized religion and their holy books. Whether the people who are members of those religions actually follows those tenants (or the ones they have also about love and compassion, etc.) depends on the sect and the individuals. Millions of them don’t. It is also the major tenant of numerous governments, theocratic and non, as well as some atheist dictators. The other governments have the tenant that women are legally secondary citizens, if not property, and that includes North America and all of Europe. So spare me the hand-wringing over Islam and women as a justification for anything because most people don’t actually care, and Islam is nowhere near alone in that issue. ISIS isn’t being bombed because they treat women badly. Saudi Arabia does too and they are our ally. And we have no problem apparently rejecting Syrian refugee women and children, or those from other countries, for that matter, and letting them be raped, starved and abused in temporary camps and detention centers.

    While there are a lot of good people working in the wake of the Beirut and Paris bombings and trying to help the refugees, the response of much of the world has been deeply, deeply saddening. And the obsession over ISIS’ ideology — instead of with what they are actually doing and the politics of the region — is exactly what ISIS was after. It’s a nasty hold your breath and see situation.

  206. John,

    I acknowledge that most of my previous post diverged from your primary topic. It did seem to me that there was plenty of subsequent commentary on ISIS and what to do that I thought my post would be relevant. Apologies if I strayed too far and thanks for not blasting it (it did take some time to write…).

    The following article is also slightly tangential to the primary topic but maybe close enough to warrant inclusion here as it deals with the current U.S. internal discussion about the Syrian refugee crisis (which includes discrimination against Syrian immigrants largely driven by their Muslim faith).

    The Case for Accepting Syrian Refugees
    by former Ambassador Ryan Crocker


    P.S. The one commenter who responded to my original post that I would like to reply to is mythago. I did have the impression that some of the posters may have had personal experiences with terrorist violence. My condolences do go out to anyone who has been personally touched in that way. My point was in relation to dealing with the ISIS problem (the primary point of my post) versus becoming bigoted and hateful toward whole groups of people (i.e. Muslims). I apologize for not making this more clear. I also have no issue with calling out bad behavior of specific Christian or Muslim or Jewish (etc.) religious groups and do not feel that constitutes bigotry. My statement about bigotry was really directed at a smaller group here than it implied (but it still stands toward that smaller group). Apologies again. And I agree and feel that it is a sad commentary of the state of our nation (U.S.) that not all Americans would condemn or mourn a terrorist attack on our soil (or any country’s soil for that matter).

    Also John, Love the kitties. I am recently cat-less in my home after 18 years and it’s just not the same.

  207. @Kat Goodwin “As for the tenants of Islam being that women and children are property, yes that’s true. That is also a major tenant of Christianity,”
    Bullshit. Christianity has two major tenets: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I can’t speak for the other religions, but you’re pretty hyperbolic with respect to this one.

  208. Bill:

    Apparently you don’t know what’s in your own Bible. Or the history of Christianity.

    Such as how what is in the Judeo-Christian Bible was used to justify slavery in multiple countries, and to not give women the right to vote. Or that a number of Christian sects, such as the Quiverfull movement, currently and in the past regard women and children as property and do arranged marriages, based on what’s in their Bible. Then there are the Christians in government who are trying to or have successfully legislated that a woman’s body is the property of her husband and the government. The Catholic church, in particular, has successfully caused the death of a number of pregnant women in Catholic dominated countries like Ireland and in South America by refusing them medical treatments including abortion in Catholic controlled hospitals. A number of women in the U.S. have been thrown into jail for miscarriages due to unconstitutional state laws rammed through by Christian legislators.

    Christians are a highly varied lot and whether they or their particular church/sect regard women and children as property or not depends on the individual. Entire schisms in sects have been based on that argument, as well as gay rights, etc. The same is true for Muslims and other people in other major religions. Numerous (millions) of Muslims do not regard women and children as property, just like Christians and Jews, despite the founding teachings or holy works of their religion.

    The Koran is written in part as a continuation of the Hebrew Torah and the Judeo-Christian Bible, and the Judeo-Christian Bible is partly constructed from the Hebrew Torah. They are the books of Abraham, and the Koran contains the tenants of love your God with all your might and love your neighbor as yourself, just like Christianity. And in your Bible, it tells you how to sell your daughter into slavery in a way that is pleasing to your God. Lot offers his daughter to the city men in order to protect the angels, etc. Foreigners (infidels) can be slaves, and so forth. Now granted, most of the slavery stuff comes from the Torah incorporated into the Old Testament — Exodus, Leviticus. But the New Testament does not overrule it and most of the major Christian sects operated on the idea that women and children were property up until only less than a century, century and a half ago, and that philosophy was backed up by the governments of western countries on the basis of Christian “values.” (Women could not own property or start businesses. Women could not be raped by their husbands because they were the husband’s property, etc.) And Christian groups such as the terrorist Army of God practice slavery as part of their faith. (And before you claim they aren’t real Christians, bear in mind that the Muslims have the same problem with terrorist groups like ISIS.)

    So no, Bill, it’s not hyperbole. It’s in your book. It’s a common part of old religions started in the Iron Ages. It is part of the tenants and history of the Christian faith and it is still practiced or advocated by sects of Christians today, to one degree or another. That doesn’t mean that Christians are all barbaric slavers; most of them are not and ignore those parts of your Bible. It does mean, though, that when Christians lash into Muslims for having a nastier view of women and the powers of men in the early foundation of their religion and holy book — a book based in part on the Christian Bible — they are being outright hypocrites.

    Right now, a majority of members of the Congressional House in the U.S. — all of whom claim to be Christians — voted to keep out as many Syrian refugees as possible. Plenty of Christian pastors are saying the Syrian refugees should be banned from their countries. So that love your neighbor thing? It’s a bit in short supply at the moment. But many Christians believe in it. So do many Muslims. (So do many atheists.) They are not their holy documents. They are not their theocratically controlled governments. I’m not a fan of any of these religions but I don’t confuse them with the people who practice them. And I don’t pretend that parts of the Judeo-Christian Bible don’t exist.

  209. Bill: “Christianity has two major tenets: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”.”

    Would that the majority of fundamentalist Christians agree with that. We would not be having people like Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush proclaiming that only Christian refugees should be accepted. We would not have Cruz and Bobby Jindal speak at a forum held by a fundamentalist preacher who in his opening remarks discusses the need to institute the death penalty for gays.

    Whether we like it or not, specific Scriptural passages are frequently used (and misused) to support the subservience of women and children. You may not see those passages as as major tenets (I certainly don’t), but I know a lot of quarters where you find people stating that they are. Kat’s characterization, while perhaps a bit overblown, is not that far off the mark. Again, not all Christians*, perhaps not even a majority of Christians**, believe (or act) that way, but enough do that a person looking in from the outside (although I have no idea of what Kat’s religious background is) would be justified in thinking most do.

    Oh, and I’ve taught Scripture classes, so I have at least a passing familiarity with the Book. Of course, I’m an Episcopalian who doesn’t believe in the subservience of women or children, and that same-sex marriage is wonderful, and in the eyes of quite a number of people I’m not a Christian. And don’t try to claim that that statement is hyperbole. It’s not.

    *I was tempted to use a hashtag, but restrained myself.
    **Given the number of Catholics worldwide, I would think the majority of Christians outside the US disapprove of homosexuality, but I would be speculating. And then again, Ireland has same sex marriage now, so who knows?

  210. Thank you for writing that.I’m afraid that people will act rashly and that Islamophobia will continue spreading without anyone even stopping to think about why.Your post is what I’ve been trying so hard to even express-I didn’t know how to say it, but then I read this. And I’m glad someone found the words.

  211. @Kat and @Pat — the point has been made several times previously in this thread that it is wrong to judge Muslims by how its worst practitioners act. It is no better to judge Christianity by the same standard. You both are doing so.

  212. @ Bill: That’s some delicious hypocrisy there. They’re merely holding Christianity to the same standards as Islam.

    I’ll hold some other religions to the same standard. The Hindu caste system is probably the single largest violation of human rights in history, due to the sheer scale of abuse that it has caused in India over the centuries. Buddhist priests in Myanmar seem to have discarded the Buddha’s teachings and are leading mobs against Muslims like early Christian monks. Ultra-Orthodox Jews believe that women are inferior and that they have a holy duty to kill all Muslims and drive the Palestinians out of Palestine (and yes, I have talked to such a person who expressed these views).

    And yet, the vast majority of Muslims are ordinary folks who loathe Da’esh. Most Christians don’t think that gay people cause earthquakes or whatever. Most Jews think that the ultra-Orthodox are way over-the-top and don’t support their antics. Most Buddhists are pacifists, or at least very anti-war. Et cetara.

    If you’re going to say “no, Christianity is better than Islam”, that’s bullshit and we’re going to call you out on it.

  213. @Floored: “If you’re going to say “no, Christianity is better than Islam”, that’s bullshit and we’re going to call you out on it.”
    If I do say that, then knock yourself out. But I haven’t. Again, it is so fun watching people say one thing, and then watching other people misquote or misinterpret or simply make up variations and then respond to that.

    I have said/am saying:
    Kat is claiming things about the “main tenets” of Christianity that are wrong, and demonstrably so. Her evidence includes passages from the texts of other religions (Judaism Torah/Old Testament) and subjects on which Jesus did not teach and Christianity can’t be said to have a perspective (women’s suffrage). That self-proclaimed Christians were slaveholders or anti-abortion terrorists doesn’t mean that these acts are part of Christian teaching — they are perversions of what Christ taught. Islam has people who pervert the teachings of Mohammed, and our host exhorts us to remember that they are not representative of that faith, and that most Muslims want to “live their lives, love their family, friends and neighbors, and be at peace with themselves, their world and their God.” To profess otherwise is bigotry. And to offer the Army of God as representative of Christianity is bigotry.

    The “main tenets” of Christianity are pretty simple, and were stated clearly by Christ 2000 years ago. Much of what has been added to them or done in His name was done by fallible men. And most fair-minded people can spot the difference. What Torquemada did was not Christian. What Eric Rudolph did was not Christian. Their motives were far from anything taught by Christ. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

    You want to compare Christians as a group to Muslims as a group. That’s a mug’s game, because both are groups of people, and people are good and bad.

  214. Dear Bill, Kat, Floored, & Pat,

    Stop. It.

    Just. Stop. It.

    This religious version of “mine is [not]bigger than yours” isn’t just a derail. In the context of John’ column, it inevitably leads to a train wreck and one with thousands of corpses everywhere. It doesn’t matter which of you is right or wrong, you shouldn’t even be having this argument in this time and place.

    Arguments exactly like this, about whose religion is better or not better, are what lead to pogroms, genocide, crusades, and Jihads in the real world. No one has never stopped one of those by arguing, “well, you know, your religion really isn’t better than mine.” It’s a fundamentally poisonous discussion and the moment you honor it, you’re screwed.

    This is not the time. This is not the place. Maybe there is no such time or place, I don’t know. But this is most assuredly not it. in the context of this column, this is a fundamentally destructive line of argument that is antithetical to the humanity and compassion that John has called for and which, ostensibly, you will support.

    You are all smart and compassionate people (your comments say so, anyway), but you have let yourselves be sucked into something ugly. To paraphrase Pogo, you are meeting the enemy. They are you.

    This is poisonous. This is toxic.

    Stop it. No last shots, no “buts,” no one-last-thought, just declare it over. full halt. Stop

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery
    — Digital Restorations

  215. Ctein:

    I am directly addressing Scalzi’s point, not derailing. Dann and others have been asserting that Islam — not ISIS — itself is the religion that views women and children as property as its tenant and has such things in the Koran, again conveniently ignoring that parts of the Koran are from the Torah and the Judeo-Christian Bible and that the Koran also tells followers to love their God and their neighbors. They are asserting that Islam is the bad religion that does this while others don’t — and therefore the religion itself is a threat, not simply ISIS, and it’s okay to go after Muslims for their barbaric practices against women chiefly. (And this is a problem we get not only from conservative Christians but sometimes liberal ones as well.)

    But Islam is not the only religion that has that belief as an early tenant and part of its holy book and cultural practices or part of its history of operation. Christianity and the other major religions factually do too. Open slavery was common in the world when all these religions were founded and remained that way for centuries — they thought nothing of it. So claiming that Islam has this belief and Christianity does not in its holy works and founding tenants is not correct and leads to the exact sort of prejudice we’re discussing towards all Muslims. That doesn’t make Christianity better or worse than Islam or any other religion. This is not a religion competition. It’s about keeping it from being a religion competition, one that targets Islam and Muslims as the “bad” faith.

    Bill is trying to ignore parts of his Bible and play a “No True Scotsman” argument. But there are countless references in Christian gospels to wives and children as property and rules on dealing with slaves and their owners. (Servants and maids and those “bond” in the Bible refer to slaves, not paid labor, and the words lord — little l — and master refer to owners.) And these verses are in both the Old Testament of the Bible — which comes from the Hebrew Torah — and the NEW Testament of the Bible. Both parts together form the holy book that offers the tenants of Christianity and that includes women and children as chattel. In Leviticus, Exodus, Luke, Ephesians, Matthew, Colossians, Corinthians, etc., slavery is endorsed, especially of foreigners, and children and wives are seen as owned.

    “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;”

    That would be slaves — under the yoke. In the Parable of the Servant, Jesus says that the disobedient slave set as the steward who was mean to the other slaves shall be beaten and killed by his master, for freaking sake.

    So no, Bill, Christianity does not get to be on a high horse over Islam in this particular area, factually. That doesn’t make Christianity worse or better than Islam. And it doesn’t have anything to do with how individuals Christians and Muslims (and whole sects of either,) practice their faith and live their lives. Because mainly Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. don’t follow most of what is in their holy books and do not regard their women and children as chattel. And those basic tenants — love your God, love your neighbor — they are also in every other major religion too as basic tenants, and the latter one is often firmly endorsed by the non-religious. Christianity does not actually have a monopoly on either of those sentiments.

    I’m not going to keep arguing a “No True Scotsman” fallacy, because those arguments never deal with facts, but I will say, Bill, that you are making the point that Scalzi, and many of us, are worried about. I’m getting real tired of Islam being painted as the “bad” religion and the others as paragons of virtue and the saviors of Muslims.

    I’m going to put this article link in the thread for Scalzi’s newest post, because it’s relevant, but I’m also going to put it here, because it’s also relevant. And that’s the last I’m doing with the discussion:

  216. All I’m going to say here is that I’m with Kat’s most recent post. Can’t put it any better.

  217. Kat: “I am directly addressing Scalzi’s point, not derailing.”

    Huh. I dont recall Scalzi’s *point* being that Christianity’s main tenets justify slavery and hold women as property.

    I must have missed that.

  218. Greg: Kat Godwin was on point until Scalzi said he did not want us to continue that thread; then it was a derail, not with respect to a Platonic universe of ideal discourse, but in the Scalzonic universe of the host sets the tone and the limits for his space.

  219. Private, Scalzi’s post was essentially: dont condemn all Islam for the actions of ISIS, just like you wouldnt condemn all christianity for the actions of the KKK.

    That is fundamentally different than Kat trying to edumacate us all about what the “major tenets” of all world religions *are*.

    “women and children are property, yes that’s true. That is also a major tenant of Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and every major, established organized religion and their holy books.”

    One judges people based on their actions. The other starts out with an et tu fallacy condemning all religion based on a selective interpretation and then goes from there.

    Condemn people based on their actions, without dragging down all of religion while doing it.

  220. I just realized that Kat used the word “tenant”, not “tenet”, so maybe i am misinterpreting her point.

    Tenet means: “a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true; especially :one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession”

    Which would mean if “women are property” is a major tenet in all religions, then that condemns all religions quite forcefully.

    I dont know what “tenant” means in this context, other than someone who occupies a land or property. I read it as “tenet”, but maybe there is some other meaning to tenant that applies here that I missed. If so, I retract my post and apoligize.

  221. John Salci would you like to define bigotry,ignorance and arrogance .You really should know. Take the cowards way out and delete. You have no intellectual tools to debate do you ?so you take the easy option and press delete with some pitiful sarcastic comment. May God Bless you John You sure need it even if you believe in nothing bigger than your own ego.

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