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ISIS, Muslims, and refugees

November 20, 2015

Two absurdities about ISIS are now common. The lesser is the notion that ISIS somehow isn’t a part of Islam, or not even religious, when clearly it is. That denial hurts the cause of Muslim reformers. And makes those who give it voice seem strangely disconnected from reality.

The greater and more dangerous absurdity is to view the style of Islam practiced by ISIS as somehow representative rather being a small and extremist offshoot sect. That absurdity is spread by the right wing in the US and Europe, and directly feeds the xenophobic myths about the Syrian refugees. Paul Krugman takes on some of the other absurdities in the right wing’s apocalyptic vision.

Chemi Shalev draws the historical parallels between the right’s reaction to today’s Syrian refugees, and how the US rejected Jewish refugees seven decades past. And on much the same grounds: among those refugees were communists and other dangerous elements. No doubt that was the case. If any group of refugees or immigrants has to be as pure as the driven snow, none will pass.

Nicolas Hénin provides a view of ISIS from the inside. David Graeber points to Turkey as one of the Islamic states that provides ISIS some cover, and peeks at the complex politics in how western states approach that. Robert Parry casts a broader net, looking at the role Saudi Arabia and Qater also have played in supporting the extremist parts of Islam.

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