Demonization of circumstance

On June 5, 2014, the notorious Islamic State of Iraq and Syria(ISIS) began their incursion into Iraq, carrying the civil war of neighboring Syria with them across the border.
Within a month, this faction of extremist militants had seized roughly a third of Iraqi territory, nearly causing the Iraqi government to collapse and prompting the United States to once again conduct combat operations in the country. Since, ISIS earned a reputation of brutality throughout the world.
Few terrorist organizations have risen to the level of worldwide infamy that ISIS has reached. When people talk about whom the most malicious human beings of history are, it’s regular to hear the names of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Pol Pot. Many would now agree that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, deserves to be on this list.
It’s very easy to understand why the nation is so angry with this radical group. This anger can be seen in media reports about ISIS, which are often infused with resentment. From Fox News to Russia’s state-owned English media outlet RT, ISIS has been demonized as a barbaric gang of uncivilized, power-hungry thugs who deserve all the pain in the world.
Many question why people would decide to join a group like this, and why. For the most part, the people joining ISIS are from Middle Eastern countries. Unfortunately, many of these nations have been plagued by war, poverty and dictatorial regimes for decades. Being raised in an environment where upward mobility is so severely hindered will create frustrations in life. Sadly, many have chosen to join ISIS as a result.
For thousands of disgruntled human beings across the globe, ISIS presents an opportunity to feel powerful, gain respect and become part of a movement larger than themselves, even if that movement involves the slaughter of anyone in the way. These incentives to join ISIS are similar to the incentives some feel to join street gangs. If you’re living in a nearly inescapable environment suffused with violence, drugs, poverty and police brutality, joining a street gang can provide a sense of protection and camaraderie.
One can even draw a parallel to the rise of the Nazi Party. After World War One, the victorious Allies slammed Germany with crushing economic punishments in order to pay for the role Germany played in the war. So, when Hitler rose to power in 1933, Germany was burdened with massive debt. The widespread misery of the German people post-World War One was exploited by the Nazi Party, who successfully marketed themselves as a perfect antidote for Germany’s ailments.
Nowadays, one can find internet videos of former Nazi Party members crying and begging for forgiveness, tearfully explaining how regretful they are to have supported such a movement. Obviously, not all former Nazi Party members (or ISIS militants) regret their decisions. However, the fact remains that all human beings make mistakes. People enduring great hardship are especially prone to do things that they may regret later in life. However, this doesn’t excuse the Nazis or ISIS for their actions. If you’re committing genocide, beheading husbands and imprisoning their wives as sex slaves, crucifying children and burning people alive, the world would probably be better off without you. But, even if you do commit all these appalling actions, you’re still a human being.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” The demonization of ISIS is simply not necessary in deafeating them. Rather than whole-heartedly hating ISIS and aiming to do unto them what ISIS has done unto others, our justice morals should be held up.
Friedrich Nietzche, a German philosopher, once wrote, “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.” The problem with ISIS is they are forcing the world into a position where atrocities must be committed in order to stop further atrocities.
The explosions of United Srates drone strikes have the same effect on ISIS militants as the explosions of ISIS attacks have against innocents. To be charred with third degree burns and paralyzed from the neck down isn’t a pleasant experience, even for extremists.
When supporting the international effort against ISIS, one should take care not to forget the humanity of everyone involved in the conflict, on all sides. ISIS militants aren’t demonic goblins from hell, even if they act the part. To demonize anyone for their actions isn’t right, no matter how horrendous their actions may be. We are all human, and we are all capable of being misled unintentionally. Again, this doesn’t excuse ISIS militants or the Nazis for their actions. But, if we lose respect for our enemies in seeking to subdue them, then we are walking on a tightrope of morality, where the desire to act out of hatred and vengeance can cloak itself as the desire to deliver justice. If we’re truly better than ISIS, then we shouldn’t act out of hatred, as they do.