Why We Hate You and Why We Fight You – What ISIS Really Wants (Sam Harris)

plato told

him:he couldn’t
believe it(jesus

told him;he
wouldn’t believe

certainly told
him,and general

and even
(believe it

told him:i told
him;we told him
(he didn’t believe it,no

sir)it took
a nipponized bit of
the old sixth

el;in the top of his head:to tell

-- e. e. cummings, [plato told]

Back in October of 2014, there was a heated discussion on Real Time with Bill Maher between Sam Harris, Ben Affleck and Maher, regarding the issue of Islam and whether militants operating in its name were truly Islamic or using it as a front for their own purposes. That conversation fomented a variety of reactions from apologists for Islam, claiming though not horribly effectively that Harris and Maher were somehow racists to those espousing extremely hostile attitudes toward Islam and Muslims. From that day to this, the verbal war continues to be waged. I cannot help but notice that Harris has maintained his position throughout, and defends it remarkably well.

And now, not quite two years later, Sam Harris has what may be the ultimate smoking gun as regards exactly what ISIS wants, straight from the source itself. This evidence comes with astonishing convenience, from Dabiq, their own online magazine. This publication, available through multiple conventional sources as well as the deep web, is well conceived and written and, according to The Clarion Project, is a “glossy propaganda magazine … sophisticated, slick, beautifully produced.” In one particular issue is an article: “Why We Hate You and Why We Fight You.” This specific bit of journalism spells out the motivations and reasoning behind their thrust to establish their own caliphate, said writing done clearly and expressed unambiguously.

It is this specific piece which Sam Harris deals with in the following podcast and which I strongly recommend you give ear to, start to finish:

So … it seems as though George W. Bush was right when he asserted, “They hate us for our freedoms.” ISIS doesn’t subscribe to freedom of any sort. Their overriding focus, first and foremost, universal submission to Allah, the definition of Islam itself. Regarding this goal, there are no other conditions, no negotiation, and no long-term alternative.

I suppose it could be argued that ISIS is producing articles of this sort as a goad to western powers to engage them and further their desire to be put in the position of the underdog. Still, their behavior for all appearances is consistent with that article’s contents and thus it may serve a dual purpose: both to convey their intentions and act as an incitement to military confrontation. In any case, if we are to take ISIS at their word, any attempts by apologists to disassociate ISIS or DAESH or the Islamic State from Islam are rendered foolish and not worthy of any credence.

Sam Harris has repeatedly said that the existence of such organizations derives from a credible reading of the quran. I think it is well past time we took both Sam and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at their respective words, rather than needing an encounter with a modern-day chunk of the Sixth Avenue El to teach us the hard way.

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Comment by Loren Miller on September 9, 2016 at 3:04pm

Joan, I think it's less a matter of a tightrope between religions than it is about not offending anyone, especially Islam.  As I said in my letter to him, it's past time to grasp the nettle and admit to exactly what the problem is.  Part of this is an education issue – getting moderate Muslims to recognize that their religion and particularly their holy book has a problem with its endorsement of violence, even as the bible does.  The difference between Christianity and Islam at this point is that Christianity has [mostly but not entirely] gotten over its violent streak, whereas Islam has not, and in an age of WMDs, that streak in Islam is not tolerable.  As for ISIS ... well, to put it bluntly, they need to go, and it will likely require force and far more involvement with Islamic countries contributing forces to make that happen.

No, this approach isn't horribly diplomatic, but it may be what is necessary.

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 9, 2016 at 1:43pm

Michael, I like your assessment, Obama walks a tightrope between Christianity and Islam. Such dilemmas are the stuff of life. Faced with facts that do not conform to values creates a cognitive dissonance that is unresolvable. Obama's conflicted behavior reveals itself. 

If Obama defined the facts of his belief in law and order, that he denounces the violence of any kind, and that he supports legislation that harshly deals with it wherever it arises, will at lease satisfy some of his critics.

The Supremacist Movement would be as bad or worse than Islam if not held in tight reign. Remember the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist religious organization originally based in north Idaho. 

Led by an educator, Tony Stewart, police departments from Coeur d'Alene, Spokane, and small towns impacted by the group, business people, and public members formed a task force. I was a member of that group. We began keeping records of their violations and activities. One incident by a mother and her son who were assaulted by members of the group enabled pulling all the evidence together and filing a lawsuit that bankrupted them.  The Aryan Nations sold their compound. Many moved away. 

We did not use anything like Sharia Law to bring them down. We used facts as evidence and then applied good old fashioned American law to bring them down. 

Comment by Idaho Spud on September 9, 2016 at 1:24pm

I think you're right loren.

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 9, 2016 at 1:15pm

Loren, I agree with you and Ayaan:

Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.
-- Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 9, 2016 at 1:13pm

My response, yesterday, is woefully inadequate and unsatisfactory for me, and I hope for you. 

Do we deny entrance of Muslims into the US because we do not agree with the facts and values of Islam? 

Are there Muslims who do not place women at a lower level than men? 

Should we allow immigration for those who do not kill in the name of their god? Or who wish no harm to LGTBQ?

Is it possible that all Muslims do not live under such values of Islam? 

If only some Muslims believe in Sharia Law, are we to deny entrance of Muslims of a particular type?

Or, should we require that all Muslim men have their semen registered as a requirement for entry into the US because Muslim Male "Refugees" Are Gang Raping Women in Europe?

Or, should we require women to not wear the hijabniqabburqachador, and dupatta?

Or, should we expect a denunciation of violence and affirmation of loyalty to the US by Muslims immigrating to US? 

Comment by Loren Miller on September 9, 2016 at 5:11am

Michael, you can walk around a rattlesnake to avoid him, but that doesn't solve the problem of its presence.  At some point or other, there needs to be a general acknowledgement of the problem which is the quran, what it says, and what it encourages some people to do.

The last time humankind went through this was 400 years ago, when the most dangerous weapons available were black powder and longbow shafts.  Needless to day, current technology has enhanced our ability to kill by multiple orders of magnitude, which HAS been acknowledged by major powers which wish to survive.  Radical Islam not only hasn't made the same concession; they invite the consequences of the use of such power.  There is very little doubt but that, if ISIS or Al Qaeda or Al Shabaab had chemical, biological or nuclear weapons that they wouldn't hesitate to USE THEM, and any unintended consequences would be brushed off as the will of Allah.

We can't step around the snake anymore.  We have to kill it, and hurt feelings be damned.

Comment by Michael Penn on September 9, 2016 at 1:52am

"To this day, I do not understand Obama's myopia about this."

The big problem here, Loren, is that Obama has both Christian and Muslim families. He is trying to walk a ground that offends neither of them. The Muslim side would take great offense if he actually defined the situation, but the fact that he does not do so makes most Christians upset. I'm certainly glad it is his problem to deal with and not mine.

Comment by Loren Miller on September 8, 2016 at 10:14pm

I'm not certain what Sam would say, but he's not my only reference by a long shot:

Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.
-- Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 8, 2016 at 9:09pm

What stopped christians from slaughtering non-believer and witches, Roman Catholics from dominating whole populations and what will stop Muslims from their terrorist outrage? "People who were tired of their presumption stopped them."

~Loren Miller

Intolerance of extreme behaviors.  

I see, we all see, the horrid conditions of the refugees. If we take in refugee Muslims, we also take in their world view. They don't become refugees and give up their guiding principles.  

So much of the emphasis in education is to teach tolerance; It certainly is the goal of many parents. As a parent and as a former teacher, caught on the horns of a dilemma, it seems that compassion trumps fear. If we reject Muslims out of fear of what they might do violates a sense of fairness. At least, give the individual a chance to live in a community until and unless they violate our trust. It might be a word or a deed, but something tangible upon which I can determine "That speech or that act is intolerable."  I then have an obligation and responsibility to stand firm to stop them.

When I was in Istanbul, I spent a day walking in neighborhoods. I played marbles with kids and their mothers invited into their family apartments. The women were most gracious, serving me coffee and cookies, showing me photos of their families; we visited as best we could with no common language. There was no animosity between us. We were mothers meeting in a strange situation. I wonder how we would be as neighbors? 

Sam Harris, how do you propose handling this situation? 


Comment by Loren Miller on September 8, 2016 at 3:34pm

What stopped them, Joan?  You know as well as I do: people who were tired of their presumption stopped them.  That's what squelched a large portion of the catholic church's influence, and ultimately, that's what will stop the depredations of radical Islam.  The obvious problems are 1) keeping up the pressure and 2) recognizing the root cause of the situation.

To this day, I do not understand Obama's myopia about this.



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