ISIS And The Virtue of Moral Clarity by Paul David Miller.
Michael Boyle, a professor at La Salle University and a good friend of mine, wrote in the New York Times last week of his concern over the demonization of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Calling ISIS “evil” or “barbaric”–as President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have recently done–is seductive, Boyle argues, because it “conveys a moral clarity” and it allows us to “separate ourselves…from the enemy.” Further, moralizing language “obscures the group’s strategic aims,” involves “gross simplifications,” and plays into the jihadists’ strategy of drawing us into mortal combat. Worst of all, it creates a powerful incentive towards mission creep: if we’re not careful, Boyle warns, we might even make the mistake of trying to defeat the group.
Michael Boyle responds here.