The long essay below was contributed by friends of the blog Peter Harling and Sarah Birke. A previous essay from a year ago can be read here.
They will say, "Our eyes have been deceived. We have been bewitched."
Surat al-Hijr (15:15)
One of the particularities of the movement calling itself the Islamic State is its investment in the phantasmagorical. It has an instinctive understanding of the value of taking its struggle to the realm of the imagination as the best way to compensate for its real-world limits. Even as it faces setbacks on the battlefield, it has made forays into our collective psyche, where its brutality and taste for gory spectacle is a force multiplier. Perhaps more than merely evil, the Islamic State is diabolical: like the Satan of scripture, it is a creature that is many things to many people, enjoys a disconcerting allure, and ultimately tricks us in to believing that we are doing the right thing when we are actually destroying ourselves.Read More