The sheer uselessness of this establishment when it comes to their analysis of Islam is exemplified in a recent short piece by Steven MacMillan of the Center for Research on Globalization. The piece is titled "How Islamic Is The So-Called Islamic State?", and before I had even read it I knew what the author's answer was going to be. That's how asinine and predictable the intellectual elites have become.
Purely due to the name of the group, most people in the West believe that all ISIS fighters are pious individuals with a deep understanding of the Muslim faith. When you actually analyse many of the ‘religious’ extremists who are fighting for ISIS however, a different picture emerges. A recent analysis conducted by the Associated Press of thousands of leaked documents from ISIS pertaining to their recruits from 2013 and 2014, shows that most ISIS fighters have only a very limited knowledge of the religion they are supposed to be fighting in the name of.
He goes on to cite some stats showing that around 70% of Islamic State fighters only have basic knowledge of Islam and sharia law, and concludes from this that ISIS isn't really Islamic. He also points to the fact that some of those who went to Syria to join IS allegedly bought books like Islam for Dummies as further evidence that whatever motivated these people, it certainly wasn't Islam.
This is an extremely shallow analysis of the problem. First of all, as Robert Spencer has pointed out numerous times regarding the books, the jihadis may have bought them for any number of reasons. They may have bought them because they "wanted convenient guides that would help them explain Islam to others, or to explain clearly and simply to friends and family why they had chosen the path they had. They could have wanted these books to send to their hard-drinking, sinful, irreligious cousins, in an effort to recruit them to devout Islam and jihad." Steven MacMillan doesn't know why they bought the books, but he wants us to take his personal explanation at face value anyway.
(As a side-note, I find it interesting that the jihadis who bought Islam for Dummies apparently found nothing within it that dissuaded them from joining the Islamic State.)
But more importantly than this, even if the vast majority of these Muslims are ignorant of Islam, this still does not establish at all that their actions therefore have nothing to do with their religion. That's the entire point: They may well have little knowledge of the faith, but at some point a desire has come upon them to become more devout, and to guarantee themselves a place in Paradise by being more overtly Islamic and learning more about the faith in order to be better Muslims. So it actually has everything to do with their religious belief.
MacMillan also ignores the fact that the core ideology of Islamic State is profoundly Islamic, and derives entirely from the Qur'an and hadith. Once again, Robert Spencer provides a raft of examples to demonstrate this (multiple links in the original):
AP ignores, for example, the central importance that the Islamic State places upon the Qur’an. Its beheadings (47:4), sex slavery (4:3, 4:24, 23:1-6, 33:50, 70:30), subjugation of Christians (9:29), global imperative (8:39) and more are all based upon the Qur’an. In its communiques, it quotes it copiously: in threats to blow up the White House and conquer Rome and Spain; in explaining its priorities in the nations it is targeting in jihad; in preaching to Christians after collecting the jizya (a Qur’an-based tax, cf. Qur’an 9:29); in justifying the execution of accused spies; and in its various videos.
It has also awarded $10,000 prizes and sex slaves in Qur’an memorization contests. One of its underground lairs was found littered with weapons and copies of the Qur’an. Children in the Islamic State study the Qur’an and get weapons training.
As for misrepresenting the Qur’an, one Malaysian Muslim said that the Qur’an led him to join the Islamic State. A Muslima in the U.S. promoted the Islamic State by quoting the Qur’an. An Islamic State propagandist’s parents said of him: “Our son is a devout Muslim. He had learnt the Quran by heart.” A Muslim politician from Jordan said that the Islamic State’s “doctrine stems from the Qur’an and Sunnah.”
MacMillan will probably argue that all of these people are just misunderstanding or deliberately misusing the Qur'an. They aren't, but that's another issue altogether. If he is not going to at least, as a minimum, acknowledge the fact that ISIS does indeed quote the Qur'an extensively, and ground everything it does within the framework of Islamic theology and law, then he is advocating an analysis of the problem that spectacularly misses the most important point of the whole thing.
MacMillan next shows us how low the standards are today to be considered an "analyst" for a mainstream think tank, with this ridiculous straw man:
I’m not arguing that there is no such thing as radical Islam, but the idea that all Muslims are somehow inherently violent is nonsense. The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful people who have no desire to harm others, and just want to live in secure and stable countries like every other normal person in the world.
Who, anywhere, ever, has been saying that all Muslims are inherently violent? This mischaracterisation of those who are concerned about jihadist terrorism and the compatibility of sharia with Western law would be funny if it wasn't so contemptible.
He next claims that "Christian-based countries (i.e. the West)...have killed millions of predominately Muslim people in incessant imperial wars in the Middle East and North Africa; with the body count of all the atrocities that are blamed on people claiming to represent Islam coming nowhere close to the West’s staggering amount of casualties." He doesn't provide any evidence for this, or any figures, and nor does he explain what time period he is even using. No Western country has waged an imperialist war in North Africa this century, so he must be going back as far as the nineteenth century at least. And if he's doing that, why not go back further and discuss the more than 270 million people killed in the name of Islam since the religion's inception?
You can see how ridiculous this could get if we want to play MacMillan's silly games forever, but ultimately the problem for us right now is not Western imperialism in Algeria, but jihadists acting in the name of Islam who have staged over 29,000 terror attacks since 9/11. What does he propose we do about this problem? Nothing. All he does is try to make facile historical comparisons. Utterly pointless.
MacMillan finishes with this:
What all the journalists, commentators and members of the public who spend the majority of their time denouncing all followers of Islam [which actually nobody does ~ Ed] fail to mention, is the two-pronged assault the West has waged on the Muslim world: by ousting (and trying to oust) the secular leaders in the region on one hand, whilst facilitating the rise of the most extreme forces on the other.
He then provides some examples of the interventionist policies of the West which have helped to exacerbate the jihadist problem, such as supporting the jihadist "rebels" against Assad in Syria.
But here's the thing: Actually many counter-jihadist commentators, myself included, are well aware that these kinds of military interventions in the Islamic world are wrong-headed and unhelpful, and have been saying so for years. Here's some pieces I wrote about Libya, Syria and Afghanistan that were heavily critical of Western foreign policy in those countries. If you look at the writings of pretty much any major counter-jihad writer, you will find the same.
More importantly, none of this actually means that Islamic State is not Islamic. It is quite possible both for Western foreign policy to be hopelessly bad, and for ISIS to be fundamentally Islamic. Yes, our recent wars and interventions in the Middle East have been misguided in all sorts of ways. But despite that, ISIS still say in the latest issue of their magazine, Dabiq (extracted from p.33):
Does that sound to you like it has nothing to do with Islam?
Steve MacMillan's analysis here is wholly representative of the establishment position on Islam and ISIS. It is woefully ill-informed, counter-factual, naive, illogical, self-contradictory, and above all, dangerous and suicidal. It is a manifesto on how to let a civilisation fall to barbarism.
Because he stands against so much of this, that is why Donald Trump must win the Presidential election, despite the large number of flaws he may have.
And that is why the establishment must be smashed.