Monday, September 15, 2014

The I Stands for ...

The president has spent the last two 9/11s giving speeches tepidly jumping into the Middle East chaos. In 2013, he suggested we maybe support Syrian rebels against Assad. He didn’t really build the case for it (and, as we see now, going his way would have just put ISIS in power sooner, with our blessing). This year he announced that we would be solving the ISIS problem (he called it ISIL—which we will discuss henceforth). He said it would be a broad coalition—of yet-to-be-contacted world leaders and their countries. We would not, he emphasized, send boots on the ground, except for 475, which would be added to the 450 put there the last couple of months—who would be doing unidentified non-soldierly things, maybe training, maybe handing out food and water? Not sure.
In short, this year’s speech was as inconsequential as last year’s. Not sure what we were supposed to notice, but I noticed another one of those things where the president says things differently. And maybe he has a reason. Not sure.
ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which is the terrorist organization that has gained ground in mainly Iraq and Syria, well-funded, growing, and savage. ISIS is the term adopted by most news outlets to refer to this self-described “state.” *
Beyond other non-content of the speech, one of the oddest things the president said was, "ISIL is not Islamic." Um. Yes. Yes, it is.

He uses the acronym--one of them--that starts with "I is for Islamic." But he defines it as something else. Here's the statement in context from the transcript: "Now let's make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state."

He is wrong about the definition of religion. Historically many have killed, beheaded, sacrificed and enslaved innocents. Those aren't civilized organizations, but they are organizations that use religious beliefs to justify their savagery. You don't stop them by defining their beliefs as not religious. They won't turn 180 degrees and say, "You mean we weren't doing these atrocities because of our beliefs about our god? Our bad. Oops. Sorry." More likely they either ignore the blather or set out to prove their beliefs in bigger and uglier ways.

And I might agree they aren't a recognized state, but they are declaring themselves one, and the president is using an acronym acknowledging their declaration.

The use of ISIL instead of ISIS avoids reference to Syria. The L refers to Levant, a way of saying "and the surrounding general area." He may be refusing to say the problem has spread significantly into Syria, but the word he uses actually gives greater area to the terrorist enemy, rather than less. With this president, we never know whether he knows what he'says saying and means it or is just awkwardly incoherent. But he is consistent.

I would like to give an attempt to possibly understand the "not religious" assertion.

I belong to a religion with many detractors, and some splinter groups. Several years ago a group calling themselves FLDS (fundamentalist latter-day saints) showed up in rural Texas. This group did not ever associate with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's members had not previously been members of my church. They hijacked the name just a few decades ago and have beliefs nothing like mine. It made sense to make it clear these were not fundamentalist Mormons or any other word for Mormon. I knew it. I preferred that others knew it. Media was not particularly helpful.

Here's the comparison. It may be that these ISIS terrorists are simply hijacking the name of Islam, thus maligning the millions of peaceful Muslims who want it known they don't believe the same things at all. I hope it is a situation like that, and that real Muslims will be successful in declaring the differences.

Glenn Foden editorial cartoon

This past Saturday, Mr. Spherical Model had breakfast with a client visiting from Iraq. He assured that the people of Iraq want ISIS gone. They did see that the previous regime was too corrupt, into cronyism. The president needed replacing. But with someone who would ensure freedom and prosperity, not another tyranny. One oddity was having to fly over ISIS held territory to get to a consulate that would grant his visa for this trip, because the one in Bagdad was closed down from the danger.

Rick McKee political cartoon 9-11-2014

A Mormon friend posted the above cartoon on Facebook and added, “Hey, we do have a lot in common. When someone mocks our sacred scriptures, such as by creating a satirical Broadway play, we too decide that we must riot in the streets, burn flags, and kill all of the infidels. Oh, wait...”

What actually happened? The Church bought up advertising space in the program that said, “You’ve seen the play. Now read the book.” Genius. You might even say God inspired that reaction.

* Good explanation here:

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