Thursday, September 11, 2014

Brief history of the Islamic State

On the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, it is sad that the free world hasn't yet scored a decisive victory over its Islamist enemies. Today, the most vicious Islamist terrorist organization is an Al-Qaeda offshoot called Islamic State and known also as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

Half a year ago, the Islamic State was unknown to the general public. Now, it wins battles, takes control over large territories in Iraq and Syria, terrorizes residents, subjects religious minorities to genocide and posts on the Web decapitation videos of captive Western journalists. But how did it start? It is my conviction that the Islamic State, like its predecessor Al-Qaeda, is state-sponsored in one way or another. It is hardly a chance that it originated in the realm of the bloody Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, who, like his friend and protector Vladimir Putin, won a license to do any atrocities with impunity by crossing the Western "red line" slowly and gradually. Assad systematically wiped out all opposition except the bloodthirsty psychopathic fanatics of the Islamic State in order to present himself as an acceptable ruler, better than the alternative. The following cartoon by Iranian artist Mana Neyestani (now living in France) says it all:

 I copied it from Vox and find it an accurate if brief history of the Islamic State.


Bill said...


I am working on a review of a paper by Jasper Griffith. He does a great job of reminding us of the glory and uniqueness. As so many times in the past I have recourse to quoting you; "Scholia as saviors" In the footnote I'd like to list your blog and a short biography slanted towards your interest and research in Greek myth. Can you work something up for me? Please? I can't promise I am naming another scholarly law after you, but I would appreciate it. Bill from Bill's Classical Studies.

Bill said...

that's "glory and uniqueness of Homer"

Maya M said...

I do not feel that what I have suggested merits a citation.
Anyway, my short professional biography is here:
But it is not what you need.
I had some interest in mythology as a child, and "Ancient Greek Legends and Myths" by Nikolay Kun was among my favorite books. However, this interest was nothing out of the ordinary. My education had no leaning to classics, except for the mandatory review of ancient Greek literature in 9th grade. I was truly engaged only about 2 years ago, when a kid to whom I am a teaching aide got to the above mentioned 9th grade. My student seemed just bored by mythology and ancient literature, but I looked at them with new eyes and was fascinated. My background in biology naturally predisposed me to science-fiction rewriting of some myths, but I try also to understand what they meant to their original audience in the pre-scientific, "daimon-haunted" world.
Hope you can extract something from this!

About Homer, the only idea I have that may be interesting is that either Homer himself or a tradition preceding him seems to have mortalized some gods. In Homer, Heracles is dead (in the Iliad) or half-dead (in the Odyssey), Ariadne is dead, and the Dioscuri are dead and buried. Because Homer is the earliest surviving source we have, he is often cited as proof that all these liminal figures were originally mortal heroes. However, if those identifying Ariadne with the "Mistress of the Labyrinth" of Mycenaean Crete are right, and if the Dioscuri are an incarnation of the Indo-European "Horse-Twins", then we see an opposite picture of gods being "killed". Together with Dionysus, whom Homer stops short of killing, these deities all have partially mortal origin and little interaction with other gods. Also, all of them except Ariadne are named after other gods, disproving the argument of J. O'Brien that Heracles originally "was considered only a hero, since gods are not named after other gods". Unfortunately, here I am having the usual problem of researching myth, namely, that ideas are practically untestable. I can only hope to come across some Indo-European or Messopotamian hunter god looking like the supposed original Heracles.

Bill said...