If you want to understand the roots of ISIS, Middle Eastern conflict and Islamic terrorism, stay away from anything that atheist bigshots Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher write on these topics.
By CJ Werleman—Alternet
For them, Islam is the root of all Muslim rage against the West, the root of all barbarism, and the root of all conflict in the Middle East. Their premise not only speaks in the language of 11th-century Christian Crusaders and 21st-century U.S. neo-conservatism, but also demonstrates a breathtaking level of naivety, and willful ignorance of both history, and the cause-and-effect link in the chain of terrorism.
In the days following the gruesome beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, Sam Harris tweeted, “If ISIS hasn’t convinced you that they are motivated by their religious beliefs, what could they possibly do to convince you?” Harris was silent on ISIS’ beheading of Syrian Muslim journalist Bassam Raies.
“This ISIS is some cocky m-fuckers. This is one I’m really rooting for us to kick their ass down their throats. America, fuck yeah!” tweeted Bill Maher. “Blessed are the Muslims that keep the faith. For they shall keep their heads,” Dawkins joked.
Unlike Harris, Dawkins and Maher, the late Christopher Hitchens was well qualified to comment on geopolitics. He may have been one of the greatest geopolitical commentators the world has known, but that doesn’t mean he was immune from judgmental error, and it’s pertinent to remember that he led neo-liberals in the drumbeat for the Iraq war.
Hitchen’s God Is Not Great is one of the best anti-religious tomes of modern times. Tragically, its subtitle “Religion Poisons Everything,” has led a great many atheists to see geopolitical conflict and fissures through the lens of anti-theism, and Harris’ response to Jihadist terrorism typifies that prism.
To understand the conflict in Iraq is to understand the root causes of most animosities in the Middle East. Until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th century, the Middle East wasn’t made up of countries. The entire region spanning from Iran in the East to Egypt in the West, and Yemen in the South, was a bunch of territories, locally ruled by tribal chiefs, sultans and sheiks. These territories were roped under one empire from the 16th century—the Ottomans. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed in 1919 as result of World War 1, the people living in the Middle East expected and were promised independence. Instead, the West (Britain, U.S. and France) carved the region up into artificially created nations, with no regard given to culture, ethnicity and history, but much regard given to the region’s oil fields.