Today it was John Kerry’s turn to explain in an op-ed what his boss failed to explain in his own op-ed yesterday: That the “violent extremism” the U.S. and the rest of the civilized world are witnessing in such barbaric acts as the beheading of 21 Egyptian “citizens” is an amorphous, cancerous blob with no attachment to religion. Writing in the “Wall Street Journal,” Kerry explained, “A safer and more prosperous future requires us to recognize that violent extremism can’t be justified by resorting to religion. No legitimate religious interpretation teaches adherents to commit unspeakable atrocities, such as razing villages or turning children into suicide bombers. These are the heinous acts of individuals who distort religion to serve their criminal and barbaric cause.
“A safer and more prosperous future also requires us not to be distracted by divisions grounded in hatred or bias. There is no room in this fight for sectarian division. There is no room for Islamophobia or anti-Semitism. Violent extremism has claimed lives in every corner of the globe, and Muslim lives most of all. Each of us is threatened, regardless of ethnicity, faith or homeland. We must demonstrate to the terrorists that rather than divide us, their tactics unite us and strengthen our resolve.” [Emphasis added]
The highlighted phrase has been a trump card of the administration, their argument being, “If the Islamic State is really Islamic, why would they murder their own kind?”
It’s a good question. An answer to it is hazarded by the Atlantic’s Graeme Wood in a much-cited essay titled “What ISIS Really Wants.” Calling the administration’s response a “well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature,” Wood writes:
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its 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. [Emphasis added]
Again, note the highlighted phrase. The IS is so deeply mired in and committed to the ancient teachings of the Koran that it considers lesser Muslims apostates. There is even a remedy in Islam for these less-holy-than-thou practitioners: takfir, or excommunication. “In Islam, the practice of takfir,” Wood further notes, “is theologically perilous”:
“If a man says to his brother, ‘You are an infidel,’” the Prophet said, “then one of them is right.” If the accuser is wrong, he himself has committed apostasy by making a false accusation. The punishment for apostasy is death. [Emphasis added]
Wood’s article is well worth reading. It might behoove Obama and his minions to spend a little time with it before sending out to the next messenger down the list to explain why the IS is a disenfranchised and widely misunderstood group of misfits that will settle down once the civilized world provides its members with jobs and a hot meal.