Only Islamic extremists and Christian conservatives are calling the conflict with ISIS a war between religions
What does Holy War mean in this day and age? When discussing the geopolitical issues the United States has, I am confronted with the term “Holy War.” Usually when I hear the term it is related to a struggle against “Global Jihad.” Lately this term has circulated again, thanks to Fox Noise’s own Bill O’Reilly.
Bill O’Reilly was spouting off on his show, as usual. This time his focus was on statements made by State Department spokesperson Marie Harf. O’Reilly attacked Harf’s statements that we couldn’t “kill our way” out of the ISIS problem, and that other approaches would be needed to curb recruitment by ISIS. One solution Harf gave is perhaps helping improve economic conditions in the Middle East, having more job opportunities available.
Certainly this is not the end-all-be-all solution against ISIS and radical Islam in the region, but it’s worth a look at. Harf is right that defeating ISIS won’t simply boil down to killing them all off. O’Reilly, of course, lashed out at these statements.
O’Reilly essentially lambasted any idea of using non-violent strategies against ISIS and radical groups. According to O’Reilly, we are engaged in a “Holy War” against ISIS, and that the best strategy is to just ramp up the bombing and military campaigns. O’Reilly seems to miss the significance of calling the conflict a “Holy War”, though, he knows exactly what he’s saying.
Holy War is a medieval term that I generally tend to associate with the famed Crusades. The term, today, has been mainly associated with the Islamic ideal of “Jihad.” The term is supposed to literally mean “Holy War”, and is essentially the Islamic version of what Christendom would have known as a “Crusade.”
The right-wing has used the word jihad as the ultimate buzz-word to invoke fear of impending attacks by Muslims. Though, in response to these fears of “jihad” comes the revival of the term “Holy War.” I guess the right-wing didn’t care to revive Crusade.
In all seriousness though, reviving the term Holy War is not insignificant. For the most part, this is how those on the right tend to view the conflicts in the Middle East today. Invading Iraq and Afghanistan, and now interventions in Libya and Syria, are more than just wars to “defend our freedoms” or “spread democracy.” To the Christian Right, these conflicts are part of a grand-strategy, a Holy War against Islam.
The reason O’Reilly calls this a Holy War is because that’s what he thinks this is. It’s a religious war, between the Christian West and Islam, in which the enemies of Christ must be destroyed. Sadly enough, O’Reilly and conservative Christians fail to understand something important: that’s exactly what Islamic radicals want.
For years radical Muslim groups have been trying to frame the conflicts in the Middle East as a Holy War being waged by Christianity against Islam. It seems that, another thing that right-wing Christianity and Islam have in common, both view the conflicts in the Middle East as fundamental Holy Wars against the other. Says a lot perhaps about why both sides always want to go to war with each other.
For a much more entertaining take on O’Reilly’s remarks, Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks gives a breakdown.