Questionable Motives

August 2, 2016

What motivates ISIS?

Filed under: Uncategorized — tildeb @ 4:24 pm

In a word, Islamism.

In response to all those who refuse to name the core principle that motivates those who commit violence in the name of ISIS – religion – comes a very clear and succinct article from the propaganda arm of ISIS. The primary motivation for this organization to front is hatred of non belief towards establishing Islamism that will not and cannot be moderated or mitigated by liberal appeasement of the One True Faith in all areas of human concern (Islamism) nor denied by some magical number of bombs and bullets aimed at those who represent the Caliphate.

Listen for yourself:


What does correctly identifying the motivation for ISIS mean in practical terms?

It means altering our policies – foreign and domestic – to align with a real and not imagined solution: policies and procedures against Islamism.

Now that we actually know what the battleground is, namely, the attempt to make Islam supreme in all areas of human concern through Islamism, we have to consider how best to neutralize it. Short of a species wide revelation that all faith-based belief including the religious kind is inherently pernicious and divisive and should be rejected outright by all reasonable and sane people (if only), I think the next best solution is to liberalize and reform Islam by supporting change from within rather than continuing this failed attempt to impose a violent suppression from without.

What does that look like?

If Islam is to survive as a socially acceptable religious branch within the family of competing human belief systems, then its adherents have to come to terms with the superiority in the public domain of fundamental Enlightenment values. These values – individual legal autonomy, legal equality, dignity of personhood, shared rights and freedoms – must supersede religious values in the public square. That means Islam itself must undergo a public reformation… a reformation that must be championed and not undermined by Western liberal secular democracies.

The adversaries of ISIS – and ISIS’ unwavering, intolerant, unforgiving, brutal promotion of Islamism by whatever means necessary must be first and foremost be disowned by its most likely victims: reasonable Muslims. It falls to reasonable Muslims to be the front line defense against Islamism, reasonable Muslims who must demonstrate a  compatibility between and allegiance to a private version of Islam – an anti-Islamism – within a secular public arena.

Western policies must be targeted at promoting private domain Islam, publicly supporting liberal Muslims, reformist Muslims, who agree to this role, who advocate for supporting those Muslims who support Enlightenment values over and above all other considerations including Islam.

Private polices to help bring this about belongs to all of us. It falls to all of us to go after – meaning with loud and sustained reasonable criticism – Islamist apologists (they are legion and often led by the likes of a Reza Aslan, a Glenn Greenwald, a Karen Armstrong)  who blame everyone and everything except Islam itself for producing Islamism. This includes criticizing anyone who calls for the appeasement of criticism of public domain tolerance for Islamist goals like sharia courts and religious schooling, criticism of those who tolerate and excuse and even champion anti-Enlightenment Islamist practices… including Muslims (duh)! This means criticizing those people who like to sling the term ‘Islamaphobe’ at anyone who criticizes Islamism in the public domain. These apologosts, these enablers, of Islamism Creep are many, and they currently enjoy much very stupid and shortsighted support among Western leaders, academics, media personalities and journalists, and misguided voters who falsely equate criticism of Islamism with intolerance, who falsely equate support for liberal Muslims who wish to reform Islam as undermining respect for Islam. Fighting against this necessary reformation and aiding the spread of Islamism even by tacit silence is undermining the very foundation of the ability to do so. Offering respect and tolerance for Islamists who wish to establish the organs of the Caliphate in every part of the public domain everywhere and over everyone is an attack against all of us.

We need to wake up.


  1. Good to see you publishing again.

    Islam is, today, essentially insidious. Christianity was the same from 500 CE to about 1300 CE. What pacified Christian barberism was education. I’d say the same thing will pacify Islam.

    Of course, we could just hope the rabbi’s come out and make a collective public statement, rather than individual confessions… but you never know. We can hope.

    Comment by john zande — August 2, 2016 @ 6:29 pm | Reply

  2. I agree with

    its adherents have to come to terms with the superiority in the public domain of fundamental Enlightenment values. These values – individual legal autonomy, legal equality, dignity of personhood, shared rights and freedoms – must supersede religious values in the public square. That means Islam itself must undergo a public reformation… a reformation that must be championed and not undermined by Western liberal secular democracies.

    but it does seem to me we are preaching what we don’t do. In many places, which are not exactly Christian theocracies, the churches seem to have a very marked influence on policy. It is not just practiced as a private affair.

    Comment by makagutu — August 3, 2016 @ 6:10 am | Reply

    • Not just what we don’t do but what we won’t do: support policies that remove religious privilege (and its effects) from the public domain. The battle against ISIS is the same battle against any and all religious incursions into the public domain. You can’t battle one without battling the other, and this is huge challenge all of us must face no matter how religious we – or how seemingly benign the local popular religion – may appear to be. The neutering of ISIS is the same as the neutering of, say, the Catholic Church or the local evangelical one: a directed and intentional move by government policy to get religion out of the public and into the private domain.

      Comment by tildeb — August 3, 2016 @ 6:36 am | Reply

      • Seneca said the leaders see religion as useful. The church makes it easy to subjugate a population and those in power exploit this. It is simply because of this they maybe unwilling to have the state declare that worship/ belief is a private affair.

        Comment by makagutu — August 3, 2016 @ 7:32 am

  3. There a good article over at Quillette by Valerie Tarico on the need to critique religious ideas. Worth the read.

    Comment by tildeb — August 4, 2016 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  4. I don’t think that it is Islam per se that is the problem, but the seeming stranglehold that the Wahabi (sp?) sect has over them. A violent, fundamentalist sect, it has been growing in power since it first appeared 4-500 years ago, particularly in those parts of Arabia over which the House of Saud held (and holds) sway. Vast oil wealth has given Saudi Arabia the ability to spead its brand of Islam throughout the world.

    Comment by Gordon MacDonald — August 4, 2016 @ 9:24 pm | Reply

    • In the main, I agree with you. Wahabism is a huge problem when backed by so much oil money.

      But here’s the twin problem: the Koran does indeed command that sharia be implemented as the law, that the words of the Prophet – no mater how ianti-intellectual, anti-scientific, anti-human and intolerant of dissent they may be – be held in the highest regard, that the fundamental tenets of submission be followed or risk being identified as a blasphemer and apostate, a kafir. Combined with these explicit instructions is the idea that one can only be a good Muslim by how closely one submits to the will of Allah as revealed in the Koran through the Prophet Mohamed.

      So liberal Muslims have a very hard row to hoe; suggesting that there should be acceptable interpretations can itself be shown in the Koran to be kafir and that anyone who disagrees cannot by definition be a good Muslim… so why should anyone pay attention.

      I think the solution has to do with understanding the difference between the spirit of the writing and the literal reading of it. It is possible to make these two incompatible frames compatible but that is the hard job of moderate liberal Muslims trying to live not in the 8th Century when a literal reading was appropriate for believers but the 21st when the the spirit must take precedence to become a religion of peace.

      Comment by tildeb — August 4, 2016 @ 10:29 pm | Reply

  5. When you have The President of the United States saying ridiculous nonsense like this “ISIL speaks for no religion… and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt…. “, we see that we’re going to have an uphill battle. Only 1 of the current presidential candidates speaks candidly about this topic – and unfortunately, he’s a sociopath, a pathological liar, an ignoramus and partially unhinged in every other regard.

    Comment by Ashley — August 5, 2016 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

    • Just so, Ashley.

      And Sam Harris has been pointing out for years that it’s a sign of great trouble and confusion in the Left when only the extreme Right is willing to even talk about the role of religion in extremist actions. Of course, they get it wrong, too, but at least they’re knocking on the right door.

      Comment by tildeb — August 5, 2016 @ 3:37 pm | Reply

      • I said this to my friends a few weeks ago – I wonder if anyone in any of the European countries – like say, specifically France and Germany, are regretting their immigration policy right about now? That maybe they should have been a bit more vigilant in their screening process? I wonder if they can even bring themselves to see what the root cause (religion – Islam specifically) is of all this violence?

        Comment by Ashley — August 9, 2016 @ 8:39 am

  6. Sam Harris has a podcast talking about this article and other powerfully illuminating testimonials in Dabiq and what it means for our response to it. Well worth the time.

    Comment by tildeb — August 18, 2016 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

    • A fantasy world of gratuitous religious bullshit that strips all the value out of life

      Great line. Great podcast. Thanks for posting it. (i didn’t hear, though, where he discussed this article?)

      Went through Dabiq. Read it, thinking, what year is it?

      I think now, more than ever, that rabbi’s have an obligation to stand up, and as one voice, declare the Pentateuch myth.

      Comment by john zande — August 19, 2016 @ 9:34 am | Reply

      • Yeah, I thought it was one his best.

        Sorry to be unclear about articles. Harris comments at length not just about the ‘Why We Hate You’ article but the testimonial of the Finnish convert and how her motivation makes incoherent the various reasons for ISIS she has wholeheartedly embraced that pointedly refuses to acknowledge its religious core.

        And yes, it’s not like the rabbis could piss off the imams more than they already are (the Koran having adopted much of the Pentateuch as a science and history guide that we know is myth). such an admission would be a good starting point.

        Comment by tildeb — August 19, 2016 @ 10:51 am

      • I’ve spoken to a few rabbi’s about whether they’d be willing to do so, and they all seemed certainly open to the idea. Just need a Ring Master, and if you thought herding cats was difficult…

        Comment by john zande — August 19, 2016 @ 11:19 am

  7. Can you really use the words ‘reasonable’ and ‘Muslim’ in the same sentence?

    Comment by Argus — August 21, 2016 @ 5:45 am | Reply

    • Yes, I think so… in the same way one can use the terms ‘reasonable’ and ‘Catholic’ in the same sentence.

      Comment by tildeb — August 21, 2016 @ 8:51 am | Reply

  8. Hi Tildeb,
    Since there’s no contact button, I’m putting this comment (nothing to do with the post; sorry about that) on this thread. Just wanted to give you a shout-out for the time and trouble you went to on our ‘friend’s post of late. Although it seems that your excellent points fell on stone-deaf ears, I think it’s worth observing that 14,000 subscribers of his can’t all be of the same mind. To some of them (even if it’s a handful, and I’m optimistic that the numbers are higher) who read with open and enquiring minds, your words were no doubt thought-provoking. You are appreciated. 🙂 A Maritime salute to you!

    Comment by carmen — September 2, 2016 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

    • I assume we’re talking about JB here, to which I thoroughly agree with your comment, Carmen.

      Comment by john zande — September 2, 2016 @ 5:01 pm | Reply

  9. Thanks Carmer. Back atcha. from the sweltering central regions (actually, today being one of the first nice days this summer).

    Comment by tildeb — September 2, 2016 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

    • We’re right on the shore so we seem to always get a breeze, especially when the tide changes! 🙂 ( Oh, and the Maritime salute doesn’t involve kissing a codfish but you can rest assured there’s alcohol involved. . . )

      Comment by carmen — September 2, 2016 @ 1:15 pm | Reply

  10. One issue is that terrorism is a currently being touted as a huge threat, when the reality is that you are more likely to be killed by a random psychopath or a car accident. Terrorism and the values culture from which it propagates, is being used as by governments everywhere as a method to extend whole classes of law to over reach into our personal lives and affairs like nothing before. The threat isn’t the bomb vest, it our own legislation because of it; wake up, indeed we must.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 11, 2017 @ 3:38 pm | Reply

  11. Political Islam – Dawa – cannot destroy us without our permission, without our aid and support. Misidentifying the threat as ‘terrorism’ or ‘extremism’ or ‘radical’ Islam is a good start towards this end, and the rise of the Regressive Left is a very powerful ally through its demand for ongoing appeasement of and tolerance and respect for any and all illiberal ideologies like Dawa while, at the same time, exhibiting intolerance and vilification for legitimate criticism. It’s a potent force from within that we see in action when media like Huffington presents niqabs as expressions of women’s rights and freedoms, when deplatforming and disinviting and drowning out speakers on the basis of ‘hate speech’ and ‘Islamophobia’ is presented as somehow protecting ‘free speech’. It’s transparently absurd. Yet it is gaining wider support, especially from the young, who honestly believe they are championing disadvantaged groups of people by their acts of bullying and intolerance of individuals.

    Whenever we find the language of Enlightenment values – freedom, tolerance, respect, diversity, rights, and so on – being presented in support of anti-Enlightenment actions as if synonymous, we know we are encountering the infected thinking of the Regressive Left in action. This is the doorway – doing it to ourselves – through which Dawa can be utilized to its maximum potential.

    Comment by tildeb — August 11, 2017 @ 4:30 pm | Reply

  12. Tildeb-

    If you tried to reason with a grizzly bear who is tearing your head off because you messed with her cubs……… would see the connection that there can be NO reasoning with the murderous bas-tards of the religion in which you speak.

    Unreasoning animals is rather being polite at that. And please do not equate this with Christianity. There are imposters in every discipline life, but the beasts of is-lam stand apart. And yes, hatred is the word of the day.

    If you want to see a fine example of a Christian under duress, read Acts 7 and the account of Stephen, whose monumental knowledge of the Old Testament and the correct context and interpretation, ended his life.

    Comment by ColorStorm — October 14, 2017 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

  13. I am reading your dialogue with Mel. Not that you need my help for the gods’ sake but this is interesting.

    Comment by Arkenaten — October 27, 2017 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  14. Yup. I was getting there. One step at a time.

    Comment by tildeb — October 27, 2017 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

  15. Thought I would take a look at an arbitrary work of yours, and I certainly picked a doozy. You seem to see a difference between Islam and Muslim, but they are interchangeable. All Muslims believe in Allah, the one true god, but it just so happens that the Muslim Allah is the same being as the Christian God, who also believe in the one true god. The prophets up to Abraham are the same prophets in both religions, but where Christ takes over the Christian line, Mohammed takes over the Muslim line. From Christ onward the Christian line breaks up into many sects. From Mohammed onward Islam breaks into many sects. ISIS may believe in a particular brand of Islam, just like the Jesuit believe in a particular brand of Christianity. But ISIS today is no worse than the Roman Catholic Inquisition was in the middle ages. Catholics did not want to give up their Christian monopoly, while today ISIS wants to establish a monopoly. But you seem to be implying in this post that all Muslims are terrorists, not less than 1% of them. I find this implication highly inflammatory, and very disturbing.
    But then again, the more closely I read your words the more confused I become. You seem to contradict yourself over and over and then recontradict those contradictions.
    In reality, your writing scares me. But, that’s just my opinion.
    I won’t be reading anything else you write. Not that you care, but I just thought I’d let you know why.

    Comment by rawgod — April 16, 2018 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

  16. “All Muslims believe in Allah, the one true god, but it just so happens that the Muslim Allah is the same being as the Christian God…”

    And you know this how? Or am I to assume that if a claim comes from you, it must be true because you have claimed it to be so!

    Comment by tildeb — April 16, 2018 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

    • Tildeb,
      I’m thinking that anyone with a moniker like ‘rawgod’ believes he’s speaking as if he is one. Like so many of them do.

      Comment by Carmen — April 16, 2018 @ 6:08 pm | Reply

      • Well, he sure seems quick to offend if asked any questions and just as unwilling to deign to answer any… and of course, that’s all because so much fault lies with everyone else.

        Comment by tildeb — April 16, 2018 @ 6:53 pm

      • Technically he’s right. It’s the god of Abraham. As to his larger point, I really couldn’t figure that out.

        Comment by john zande — April 16, 2018 @ 8:15 pm

      • The Christian god is the tripartite god – you know, the whole ‘Christ’ bit – and this definitely is not Allah, which he then confuses to be synonymous for the god of Abraham… who is Yahweh. Good luck telling a Muslim that they worship the Jewish god and expect them to nod along in agreement!

        Comment by tildeb — April 16, 2018 @ 10:51 pm

      • That’s a good point, although Muslims would (naturally) claim that’s wrong. Abraham was before “Jew,” so that’s not really a problem for them. They also claim the Jews lost the original work, and the sefer torah was a fudged job.

        Comment by john zande — April 17, 2018 @ 5:40 am

  17. Sorry, Tildeb, I can’t respond to you on Mel’s blog, he has banned me

    We have understood reciprocity and fairness from the very beginning. You have no proof that these ideals have evolved.

    Is he suggesting we were ”born like this” or that there are other morals we now have that have been imparted by his god?

    Comment by Arkenaten — August 8, 2018 @ 11:55 am | Reply

  18. That’s fine, Ark.

    I’m still trying to get that clarified because he seems determined to have it both way: admit that our moral sense is part of our biology but that (insert nebulous terminology relating in some philosophical or metaphysical way to morality) was really a product of religious instruction ‘given’ to us by god.

    Comment by tildeb — August 8, 2018 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

    • Is this his latest post? I saw it this morning but had had my fill Mel for a while to bother diving in.

      Comment by john zande — August 8, 2018 @ 12:34 pm | Reply

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