ISIS Isn’t The Problem, or It’s The Ideology, Stupid

I haven’t done a media survey of any kind of thoroughness, but i have noticed from a few of the varied articles i read on the Charlie Hebdo attack that there is a new tendency to blame it on ISIS. I have no idea whether ISIS really is behind it (I doubt it, it is not their style), but the speed with which people are embracing that conclusion shows that that is what they want to believe. I think that to blame ISIS is another way of covering one’s eyes and sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears so as not to have to face the truth: that fanatical Islam is a global terror organization that is so effective that its members do not need detailed instructions to follow its creed.

It makes Western minds feel better if they can point to a hierarchical organized terror group ‘masterminding’ every plot, as though they were a Mid-East version of the boy scouts earning their badges. Because if they are part of an organization, then the West has an army that they are pitted against. There is a target, we can ‘get’ their Bin Laden or Hussein or Nasrallah and that will solve the problem. We just need to wipe out ISIS, or Al Qaeda, and then the problem has been solved. But to acknowledge the truth means to accept that we are facing an enemy who lives in every major capital city in the world, and who looks exactly like our colleagues at work, or companions on the bus, our accountants and our street cleaners and our taxi drivers, and who wants to kill us. You. Me. Indeed, they often are our street cleaners and bus drivers. It means realizing that we are facing an enemy that wears no uniform to help us identify it.

It means acknowledging that we are facing a multi-tentacled self-reproducing organism, rather than a top-down leader-directed organization. If you cut off the head of the latter, it will die. If you cut off the head of the former, you discover that now you are holding a second monster.

I would like to see the Western media articulate that terrorism is a product of fanatical Islam. It is not a justifiable tool of guerrilla militias with a righteous grievance which will be ended when the grievance is fixed. It is not the product of a sick-minded charismatic leader who grooms vulnerable youths, which will be ended when the leader is killed. It is not the sad consequence of a mentally unstable, twisted mind which can be cured by interventions and medication. It is the clear-headed, cold-blooded, self-motivated result of a bloodthirsty and death-loving ideology, and it will continue to seed itself in new carriers. It can’t be stopped by the creation of a Palestinian state, by psychiatric interventions, or by cutting off its head.

The monster that the West is facing is not going to go away because the West is hiding under the covers. Time for Western media to uncover its eyes and unblock its ears. This monster is real. It won’t go away when you turn on the light, but you can’t fight it in the dark.

About the Author
Amanda is professional writer who just loves words. She's also an experienced Jewish educator and amateur mother, with a fascination with convergence and a tendency to wield sarcasm and irony when vexed.