With an authorization looming in Congress for our ongoing war against the so-called Islamic State, a muddled conversation has sprung up about the group’s relationship to mainstream Islam, its relationship to American and European policy in the region, and the military and political measures needed to counter it. Graeme Wood interviewed scholars and activists to shed light on what ISIS is trying to accomplish and why. His resulting story—a long tour through the theology, history, and practice of this particularly brutal offshoot of Salafist Islam—is alarming, not least to Wood himself.
A new WaPo/Pew poll finds that 56 percent of Americans thing it’s acceptable for the National Security Agency to secretly access millions of Americans’ phone records. Sixty-two percent favor investigating terrorist threats “even if that intrudes on personal privacy.”
We had a week of frightening headlines as each day greeted us with a new horror. Yet, the chorus soothes my troubled soul as I inhale and imagine God filling me with peace in the midst of all those dreadful dispatches.
What I hope we don’t see, when the next race or a parade or festival looms up in front of us, are layers of extra stops and searches and checkpoints, wider and wider rings of closed streets, the kind of portable metal detectors that journalists remember unfondly from political conventions, more of the concrete barriers that Washingtonians have become accustomed to around our public buildings … more of everything that organized officialdom does to reassure us, and itself, that soft targets can somehow be eliminated entirely, and that everything anyone can think of is being done to keep the unthinkable at bay.