Friday, March 6, 2015

Harris interviews Wood on the Islamic State

At IPS Balder post a link to the above. I'm struck by this early on statement that has a much broader application for those of us who too rigidly try to fit everything into our hegeholonic categories and ideologies:

"Much of the initial wave of reaction has come from people who desperately wanted it to say one thing or another, and who reacted by assuming that it fell into their predetermined classifications of pieces about politics, Islam, or terrorism. It is gratifying to write a story so resistant to classification that people have to pretend it says things it doesn’t just so that it fits in their mental categories."

Wood also makes clear distinctions about Islamophobia, in which he most definitely does not find Harris to engage. Those who claim such are being led per above by their own prejudices.

"Many enemies of Islam, and I consider you one of them even though I exempt you from this charge of misreading, have wanted to read the story as claiming that Islam is responsible for terror, or that ISIS is Islam. In fact it denies these claims explicitly and has a long section about literalist Muslim objections to ISIS. Many Muslims have, ironically, read the piece in exactly the same way, assuming it blames Islam for ISIS. That misreading, I think, is because it’s easier to argue against the anti-Islam point of view than to reckon with the possibility that Islam contains multitudes, like other religions, and that some of them are very, very nasty indeed, even though they share the same texts as the not-nasty ones. People are also frustrated by the fact that the piece discusses religion but has no time for talk of a “clash of civilizations,” and in fact argues that one of our main policy goals should be to avoid this. Finally, some readers are desperate to see my article as a portrayal of Muslims as savages, and cannot process that I am actually arguing something like the opposite, and specifically about ISIS. Its members aren’t brainless brutes who cannot think—that’s the Orientalist view, and ironically it’s the view that a lot of people who would call themselves anti-Orientalists take when reading the piece. ISIS members are often highly sophisticated people, just as capable of intelligent critical thought as anyone else. They are simply evil."

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