At some point all of the “we condemn ISIS” stuff is just cheap talk. It looks desperate/borderline ridiculous.
1. Of course we condemn ISIS.
2. Of course the maniacal, medieval, murderous organization that calls itself the “Islamic State” doesn’t represent the ideas, principles, and aspirations of the vast majority of Muslims worldwide.
3. Of course the horses’ asses on Fox News are going to get it all wrong and go on to talk about how ‘moderate’ American Muslims aren’t condemning ISIS.
4. Of course the vast majority of Americans aren’t going to understand the ISIS phenomenon and where the Syria connection is even relevant or why their president is carrying out military operations in the Middle East once again (and to be quite frank, I’m confident that most Muslims couldn’t really explain it either. I find it hilarious how cocky we Muslims get when we think we understand how pathetic the situations are in “our” countries more than others. Let’s laugh a bit, yeah?)
Suggestions: Muslim civic groups should make one or two joint press conferences/releases, then focus on substantive work in our mosques to ensure that young people aren’t influenced by the noise coming out of these chaotic, complicated stories and the overwhelming misinformation out there. We also need policy advocacy with teeth– few have supported the minority in our community (such as the good folks at MPAC) that “gets it”– that ANY action that targets ISIS needs to start in Syria and the tyrannical regime that kept ISIS nurtured and comfortable (this article sums it up perfectly: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119226/us-airstrikes-isis-syria-are-not-enough-punish-assad-too).
<<< The hilarious part is that we continue to “condemn” ISIS but don’t condemn the conditions and policies of inaction that allowed ISIS to grow. >>>
Last bit: We need to hire better communication and social media specialists. The people hired for communications/social media coordinator positions need to be able to do more than simply post #hashtags and share articles that seem relevant to Islam and Muslims. These things need real research. Example: one article I saw being circulated depicted Detroit Muslim leaders condemning ISIS– some of them notably being Shi’ite clerics, which great, because we need more coalitions built between Sunni and Shi’ite leaders in the US to counter sectarianism within our community. But I wonder, or actually, assert, that many of these clerics likely never condemned Hezbollah and Assad’s butchery of the Syrian people, or Assad and Iran’s strategy which allowed ISIS to fester to get rid of the moderate Syrian opposition. Being selectively silent is as sectarian as shouting anti-Shi’ite/Sunni slogans.
These are messed up, complex situations that require rigorous study and pragmatic approaches. The “Islamic State”– or whatever we want to call it– is a reality now, and it grew right under our nose these past 3 years, and we as a community have continued to operate in the same exact way we always have: reactionary, a deer in the headlights, rarely empowered, selectively empathetic, and, most importantly, politically illiterate (seasonal rallies do not = real political capital, clout, or presence).
If any of the above sounds patronizing– great. The world as we know it is a much more dangerous place because of the inept leadership in our government. But we the citizens are just as responsible for what happens. How many years do we have to keep “protesting this sh*t”, saying “ameen” in every prayer for the same oppressed peoples and countries? We can point our fingers at colonizers, a corrupt system, imperialism, interest groups, and so on. But last time I checked, God will hold us responsible for what we know, where we are, what we owe to our surroundings, what we’re able to do, our spheres of influence. Will we face God in shame simply because we don’t have our act together?