I recommend to all my fellow heretics the cover story of this month's Atlantic.  "What ISIS Really Wants" makes it eminently clear that defining motivation of ISIS is indeed religion, the most backward, violent, intolerant brand of religion imaginable, turning the clock back to 600 AD and sentencing 200 million Shi'ites and every Muslim head of state who puts the  laws of man above those of the Quran, not to mention all the rest of us infidels, to death or slavery, all in preparation for the apocalypse.  

I don't know which is worse, the grip of their vile, murderous psychosis...or the arrogance of their pretensions to world domination.  

Atheists know the real problem is religion -- in particular, the selective reading of holy books.  It's nice to see the mainstream press start to realize it.

Favorite quote:

"[ISIS'] rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million."   

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Hey, that's only one of them.  I would call my own area "the Historic Southeast." My home town is right near Phila. and Valley Forge.  I grew up 3 mi. from the Battle of the Brandywine. 

The English civil war of the 1640s resulted in a lot of Puritan immigrants going to New England and a lot of Royalist land owners relocating to the South and establishing giant estates.  Many Scots and Irish came along as indentured servants and settled in the mountain areas of the East, which explains the similarities between Appalachian and Irish music.

The immigrant half of my family came here to Appalachia from Scotland in 1740, a century or so after our castle near Dumfries changed hands. Grandfather Mountain, NC was our family land until recently (Dear Li'l Brother still owns a place up there), and is home to the Highland Games each summer -- the largest gathering of clans outside Scotland. The other half of the family has lived there and in the Uwharrie Mountains of NC for millennia.

I'm not much up on the history, but seem to remember something about a schism between the New England Puritans and the Southern Cavaliers which was the basis for the American Civil War, and so made it an extension of the 17th century European war. Kevin Phillips tome "THE COUSIN'S WARS" has something to say about that, as I recall.


Barbara Tuchman's 1978 masterpiece, "A Distant Mirror" chronicles the late 14th century in Europe with an eye toward the self-destructive nature of sectarian factionalism. It looks at the waning period of Crusades and how those wars were sponsored by the Church but often just a ruse to give the knighthood and their associated brigands something to do and so out of country for a while to plunder someone else. This was a time when Europe had no standing armies, but a lot of men who knew no profession but war. When they weren't engaged in some foreign land they were something of a problem for locals. Fighting "the infidels" of wherever was a convenient way to distract them, and at best a (usually unsuccessful)way of shifting power alliances and territorial claims.

Tuchman called her book "A Distant Mirror" because in it's reflection we see the folly of many of our current schisms; how war can exist merely for war's sake, and how religious factionalism stokes, rather than resolves it.

How many of the ISIL fighters are at war merely because it provides them a stage for personal glory? How many join the US military for similar reasons? The Church regularly endowed absolution for all sins past and future on those going away (at some local relief) to make war on whomever could be construed as "the other". That's an impulse as old as tribalism, and far older than churches or states.

From that root springs what we consider civilization. But it is not some wholly pure concept -- it rests on and returns to those tribal roots for nourishment and over and over does the same damn things.


Really well said (I'm a writer)!  I read the book years ago, and I've often thought that war has its own momentum, especially in the quagmire of the Middle East.  Cycles of revenge pit one tribe against another.  The US thinks it knows what's going on, gets involved, disastrously.  

I can't look at the black-masked psychotic without thinking, "Why aren't you in school?  Why don't you have a job?"  

I agree: war is a font of personal glory and Isis fighters and US Marine jump into it with equal gusto. 

The article in The Atlantic notes that it's been 500 years since Europeans stopped killing each other over philosophical differences.  That's why it's so hard for Western leaders to take ISIS seriously.  Do we have to wait 500 years for them to grow up -- or self-destruct?

To the next person who enlists "to serve my country," I say, "You're not doing a damn thing for ME."

The schism between Puritans and Cavaliers occurred in England a bit earlier and resulted in the Civil War there as Parliament and Charles I struggled for control of Church AND State.  Cromwell et al were Puritans, the party of business and citizens rights.  The Mayflower sailed before the Civil War, bound for Virginia, but wnet astray to Massachusetts.  Virginia and the Carolinas werae settled by many Royalist scions, who recreated the agrarian society they had left behind.

Thanks for the info.  I supposed you could say that the seeds of the Civil War were planted in the 1600s.

OK, you're a racist ;=)  There are also a lot of minorities in the South, particularly African Americans.  Many are "raised in the church" and many still struggle with poverty.  African American churches tend to be authoritarian, which preps young men and women to obey orders, and the military offers a chance at educational opportunities and economic advancement.  Red states of course have a lot of conservatives, who often have the same sort of "moral clarity" that Peter Jennings once ascribed to Dubya, i.e., the simple black and white view of the world that makes problems look like nails and sends believers scurrying for more and bigger hammers.

The majority of muslims are not condemning IS for the simple fact that they hope IS will convert the whole world to Islam and kill all non believers in the process as has been the ambition of Islam since day one.

There is a big difference between education and intelligence. If the intelligent have been indoctrinated before they have been educated then free thought and common sense have most likely been condemned to death from an early age. Even some very educated people can be totally stupid if they have had only education from established sources but no real world experience. Take most of our politicians if you need a good example.

I'm just sorry that these jihadi dumbos will never know that they have been duped and are going nowhere when they blow themselves up. Never mind virgins, more vergin on the ridiculous!




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