Irony is the defining characteristic of our recent history, and irony in the Muslim world is a determining element. It’s ironic that Islam speaks of itself as peaceful, yet most of the Western world sees “Islamic” as an adjective defining “terrorist”. A world of peace can be ignored, but terrorism cannot.
IS is the latest terrorist group to attract our attention, and probably the most abhorrent since Hitler and Stalin. There is no atrocity they won’t do, including murdering children, burning prisoners alive, and killing hundreds of fellow Muslims plus any and all persons that don’t precisely conform to their narrow concept of the perfect Islamic society for End Days.
There are many ironies in their rise, and in their nonsensical beliefs. One irony is that in some ways they are right, just not in ways they think they are. For instance, the Western world may indeed have brought End Times down on our heads, but it sure ain’t because we fail to pray five times a day, or refuse to submit to Islam (“islam” actually means to submit, to a higher authority).
If we have in fact caused the end of the human world (in another century or two) we can place the blame squarely on the shoulders of those whose huge fortunes came from mining fossil fuels and who refused to understand climate change. Because they control the politics of the Republican party, they have stopped in its tracks all national attempts to address global warming. This refusal has created the conditions for rapid warming that may make Earth too hot for human life. All of us in the first world share some of that blame, but the primary culprits are the multi-billionaires in the fossil fuels business. People like the Koch boys are at the top of that pyramid, and even at this late date, ankle deep in salty water, they deny global warming and do nothing to change their ways because they believe in unlimited freedom to do as they wish, no matter how many planets they kill.
Much of the Islamic world, and not just the radicals, believes that the Western world has caused incalculable harm to them. They are right in some respects, because money is everything to us, and in its pursuit our corporations and their lackey subordinates, the military, muck around in whatever lands they think might generate billions for themselves. The effect on the “host” country and its people is irrelevant to them. Thus Big Oil has irreparably ruined the environment in Nigeria, driving many people off their ancient lands, and leaving those lands poisoned forever. The money they feed into Nigeria and elsewhere always goes into the personal bank accounts of the current tyrant-for-life and his cronies.
Consider the effect of the two unfunded wars created by President George W. Bush, which have broken all longevity records since the Middle Ages. We invaded Afghanistan supposedly to capture Osama bin Laden, but all we had to do was send a crack force to get him, which we eventually did under Obama. Instead, we bombed the whole country and beat back the Taliban, who today have become a much greater threat, as predicted. It became our longest war, and it is supposed to be over but is not. Then, without capturing bin Laden or resolving the war in Afghanistan we folded our tents and invaded Iraq under the false pretense that it had weapons of mass destruction. Naturally, we thought bombing the whole place would solve everything, and the people would flood into the streets to welcome us. These two wars created millions of new enemies, hundreds of thousands of whom became militarily involved, thousands of whom became terrorists. Moreover, we will be paying the bills for these wars into the next century, just as we are still paying for WWII today.
One difficulty is that the radical Islamists we create wreak revenge on people who are not the ones who caused the trouble. The marauders are the rich and the leading politicians, via their proxy military. But they are shielded in a number of ways, so instead, jihadists take it upon themselves to kill a random bunch of ordinary people, as if this would make any difference. They justify this by claiming that the US or Western electorate is equally guilty because we elected our politicians. That’s just an excuse, of course. Wreaking havoc in foreign countries is not in the job description, but such things are part and parcel of corporate capitalism.
Jihadis can always find a reason to kill Westerners, or whoever they decide insulted them or Islam. With bin Laden it was the US military presence in holy Saudi Arabia. With others it’s insulting Islam, cartoons, films, books, art…whatever. Any jihadi can kill anyone so long as he decides that person “insulted Islam”; he is judge, jury, and executioner. So they bomb religious places and hotels, shoot customers in restaurants, subways, or auditoriums, or in the street. They consider it a great triumph if they kill an unarmed innocent, even a child, and are happy to invent a reason after the fact. A secondary effect is the hatred of all Muslims because of the acts of these radicals. Not a happy balancing of the scales.
Jihadis believe if they are killed they will be rewarded by God with 72 virgins, leaving us to wonder about the female martyrs, along with some other questions. Such beliefs descend from a pre-scientific age of great ignorance, an irony in the age of computers and space travel. A greater irony here is that no one has ever told them it is true, or not, because they are dead.