Trolling the Internet with stories dressed up as sober, centrist scholarship — it’s what the Atlantic does best
Imagine a group of people who rape. Enslave. Maim. Murder. Ethnically cleanse. Extort. Burn. Behead. But then imagine this—they don’t lie? Can’t lie. Won’t lie. That’s what Graeme Wood’s recent Atlantic essay, “What ISIS Really Wants,” really wants us to believe.
That a movement that has earned the world’s nearly universal opprobrium for its grotesque violence and wickedness is nevertheless honest in describing why it does what it does. I beg to differ. The only Muslims who think ISIS represents Islam, or even Muslims, are ISIS themselves.
That’s the first thing everyone needs to know about “the Islamic State.” And the second? If you want to know why ISIS exists, don’t bother searching Islamic texts, or examining Islamic traditions. The real reason ISIS happens is because of what keeps happening to Muslims.
The Incomparability of Civilizations
There’s almost no comparison between Islam and the West. For one thing, Islam is a religion. The West obviously is not. But even the countries of the world that are Muslim-majority don’t compare to the West. For all this fearful talk of a global Muslim Caliphate, it’s the West that has made real progress in creating transnational institutions.
There’s no Muslim counterpart to the European Union, the Schengen Treaty, NATO, the G-20—a Western initiative—or the many bilateral and multilateral agreements and processes that make the West what it is. Nor is this exclusively a mark of the Muslim world: You think China, Brazil or India enjoys the alliances we do? The kinds of integration that make our societies so prosperous and powerful?