Saturday, May 30, 2015

How to Lose the Fight Against ISIS

The image above may be the most egregious blunder the west has committed in the fight against the Islamic state. We can look forward to it being used in ISIS propaganda.

Today, protesters took the "draw Mohammad" day on the road, and gathered around a Mosque in Phoenix, Arizona. This in itself is not much to fret about. It's long past time for Islam as a religion to grow up and accept that all things, including and particularly religion, are subject to criticism.

Accusing the protest organizers of bigotry is not a sufficient response to this criticism. So it's not about that either.

But one need not be a pacifistic hippie peace activist to recognize the foolishness of gathering around a Mosque while brandishing weapons.

If ISIS were -- and they surely were -- hoping for the west to grant them some sense of legitimate grievance they could recruit off the back of, this is it. Among those Muslims to whom the idea of beheading someone for not being a Muslim, for for being the "wrong kind" of Muslim, ISIS needed no help recruiting. Among those legitimately fear genuine oppression in the west, who needed to be given a legitimate grievance in order to join up with ISIS, there could have been no greater boon than the sight of armed Americans surrounding an Arizona mosque.

If any ISIS sympathizers remained within that particular Mosque -- a Mosque that had been frequented by those responsible for the Garland, Texas shooting -- literally nothing could spur them to more radical action than the sight of armed men outside of their own Mosque.

Now, ISIS' call to "Jihad" can more easily be perceived as legitimate, or even justified. Islamic doctrine holds that Jihad may only be waged against "unbelievers" who fight against them, and in the way they fight against them.

Those are two very important boxes that would-be ISIS fighters, be them in Arizona, the United States, the west at large or even in the Middle East, can now check off. They can now refer to attacks on the west as "Jihad" with a closer semblance to legitimacy than ever before. The idea that Muslims in western lands are oppressed now has a very powerful propaganda image to back it up.

This was literally the worst blunder the protesters could have managed.

Protesters defended the presence of weapons at their protest by pointing out to ISIS calls for violence against the protesters. Fortunately, no ISIS fighters, actual or aspiring, turned up at the event. No shots were fired.

All this being said, it's not reasonable to pretend there was no threat of attack. It's not reasonable to suggest that protesters should not have taken steps to protect themselves against such attack. But there were better ways to do it than openly carrying semi-automatic rifles.

They could have done what Pamela Gellar did in Garland, TX and hired armed security to protect them. Failing that, they could at least have kept in mind that Arizona is a concealed carry state, and not carried weapons openly.

Of course that would have denied some of these neckbeards the thrill of playing soldier, patrolling a perimeter on US soil.

Certainly, ISIS propaganda could have still complained about weapons present, but those complaints are less potent without the image of them.

So these Arizona protesters may congratulate themselves for one thing: they handed ISIS a propaganda coup the likes of which they could only have imagined.

Good job, boneheads.

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