The ‘You Share the Same Ideology as ISIS’ argument [Part 2]: The New Godwin’s Law

It has been a common feature in debates and especially internet ones, is the age-old use of Nazi comparisons and analogies to win just about every argument that is conceivable. The use of Nazis (The term Nazi, is an acronym for National Socialist) as an argument usually proceeds as thus:

1) describe some feature of your opponent’s view
2) then compare to some feature of the Nazis, no matter how remote or unconnected it is.

3) ‘Win’ argument

An example of the use of this fallacious argument:

“Vegans and animal rights activists want to ban animal vivisection and punish anyone who does it. Therefore they are just *like* Germany under the Nazis, who were the first country to ban animal vivisection, you just differ slightly in method” (the Nazis prescribed concentration camp internment and sometimes even the death penalty for those who test animals).

The argument can get even more silly: “What?! You want to implement child welfare policies?! You’re just like the Nazis who did the same”. This argument has even been actually used! [1]

All these arguments use Nazi analogies that are based on the ‘guilt by association’ fallacy, which attempts to find some aspect that speciously matches between an opponent and whatever epitomises evil in popular culture, and denigrate the opponent and their argument, no matter how tenuous, isolated or unconnected the chosen ‘shared’ aspect is.

As everyone reading this probably has experienced it in some form, needless to say, the argument is exceedingly common amongst Western discourses. Many philosophers have deeply pondered why comparisons to Nazis are so frequent especially amongst Western discourses, and whether there is any special reason for it.[2]

Regardless, this argument became so common and frequent on the internet (and beyond), that American lawyer, Mike Godwin, in the fashion of a mathematician, famously claimed to observe a predictive law about its use. His formula states:

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler approaches 1”

godwins-law1

This law has been modified over time, and many people have derived from it the following rule designed to reduce the frequency that Nazis are invoked: “the first person to bring a comparison to the Nazis has lost/ended the discussion”.

This probably hasn’t worked very well to end the use of Nazi comparisons, but in public debates it does make a interlocutor look ravingly silly who brings it up. This doesn’t mean that legitimate comparisons are possible, only that overuse, hyperbolic or inaccurate use rightly undermines the seriousness of an individual’s argument.

Argumento ad ISIS

However, in recent years this argument has been used in a new way, using a new reference instead Nazism. This has arisen in many contexts, but more frequently it has arisen in any discussion involving Muslims and Islam, namely, the comparison with ISIS.

Muslims (and theists generally) have encountered these arguments in a number of forms, some examples include:

Anti-theists arguing to any theist that “Theism is wrong, because theism is the concept that ultimately creates ISIS. Therefore Muslims need to leave theism”

Islamophobes saying “Islam is wrong because it is the belief shared by ISIS. Therefore Muslims need to leave Islam”

Secularisers (e.g. non-Muslim Secularists, so called ‘Muslim’ reformists) say “Classical Islam/Puritanical Islam/Islamism is wrong because it shares ideas with and/or creates, ISIS. Therefore Muslims need to reform (secularise) Islam”

The ‘You Share the Same Ideology as ISIS’ argument, or Argumento ad ISIS (for short) has also been used by so-called ‘counter-extremists’ (i.e. a sub-type of seculariser who is actively engaged in helping Western governments culturally assimilate Muslim minorities) who have long used the fallacious argument that ‘your share the same ideology with ISIS’, which is an argument easily demonstrated to be fallacious [3], but this hasn’t stopped Western governments from employing the same specious rhetoric.

Western governments have long justified their policies in controlling, combating or curtailing Islamic thought, its public expression and Islamic institutions under the excuse of ‘counter-extremism’, which usually involve ‘re-education’ programs, shutting down Mosques, and even banning the Burka! In fact, use of the argument has become so out of control, even the President of South Korea used it against peaceful South Korean protesters, by comparing them to ISIS! [4]. North Korea is accused of having links to ISIS [5], and some in Japan want to break with its post-WW2 peace stance and re-militarise itself, because…ISIS [6].

The Sectarian Use of the Argumento ad ISIS

More disturbingly though, is the use by some Muslims of argumento ad ISIS against each other in sectarian battles in their naive and ignorant attempts to get the better of each other.

Some ‘non-Salafi Sunnis’ denounce ‘Salafism’ as causing ISIS. Some ‘Shias’ denounce ‘Sunnism’ as causing ISIS. Some ‘Maadhali Salafis’ denounce Muslims critical of Muslim government as causing ISIS (because they say its a Khawarij tendency). The list goes on…

Hardly anyone notices how ridiculous the argument is, nor the well documented fact that ISIS were created by and are currently led by former Saddam Hussein officers and Iraqi Baathists (Baathism = Arab National Socialism) [7], and and have links to Syrian Baathists (of whom Bashar al Assad is one of, lets not forget that).

No one realises how the methods of ISIS are virtually identical to those found in other non-Muslim terror groups, mafias or terror groups in South America, Africa and methods employed during colonial Western military history. Not many have realised how many militant groups like the Hashd al Shabi (Iraqi militias), who are predominantly ‘non-Sunni’ and ‘non-Salafi’, have engaged in similarly depraved acts like ISIS . Iraqi militias have been recorded on camera committing acts of cannibalism [8] and burning people to death and mutilation [9], torture and execution of civilians [10], beheading [11] (e.g. Iraqi militias and government under Maliki). Likewise what about the suicide bombings [11] by the Communist PKK, or the Mexican Los Zetas drug cartel beheading opposing members of another cartel with chainsaws?

I’m still waiting on Islamophobes and Secularisers to explain to me which branch or interpretation of Islam the PKK and the Mexican Los Zetas are following…

The argumento Ad ISIS is therefore extremely fallacious.

Conclusion

Muslims should reject comparisons to ISIS, and reject the self-hatred and self-defeating practices of explaining away a widespread international cross-ideological phenomenon by navel gazing and blaming an interpretation of Islam (or another’s interpretation).

While Muslims are busy accusing each other’s ideas of causing ISIS (and the Hashd al Shabi), Islamophobes, Anti-theists and Secularisers are chortling and saying ‘you’re all right’, and ultimately it is Islam that suffers. While Muslims busy themselves drilling holes underneath their opponents in other madha’ib (schools of thought) in order to sink them into the sea, they don’t realise that they’re all on the same boat.

If anything, the methods employed by any of the groups in the middle east goes against any Islamic interpretation of any school, serves to show us that they are not imitating the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) but are either emotionally compromised brutes or borrowing methods they learnt from Western history [12]. At least the PKK, whose members may have originally come from Kurdish Muslim backgrounds, are open about following a non-Islamic ideology, if only Muslims could wise up to the rest who don’t either.

The only laws that should be reformed is not Islamic law, but Godwin’s law. It should be  expanded to include a new second clause that mentions the use of argumento ad ISIS:

“If a discussion involves Muslims or Islam, as the discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving ISIS (or other affiliate) approaches 1”

Furthermore, just like how the use of a specious analogy to nazis in an argument immediately discredits the person invoking them, likewise should the an analogy to ISIS bring the same level opprobrium upon the simple minded or mendacious invoker.


[1] http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2010/march/child-welfare-agency-echoes-nazi-germany/?mobile=false

[2] Many political philosophers have asked this question and have observed that Nazism (or Fascism) is an outgrowth of the Western enlightenment ideas. Some wonder if it emerged from the ideas found in the books of many Western thinkers like Rousseau and Nietzsche. Others have observed that fascism shares many of the foundational concepts of Modern Liberalism, like Nationalism, Secularism, religion is subservient to nationality, and the supremacy of the concept of the Nation-State and National Will. Other political philosophers have pondered whether fascism arises in Liberal Democracies, as depression cycles arise in Capitalism.

Examples can be found here:

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/a-liberal-accord-with-nazism-1.711626

http://www.spectator.co.uk/2009/02/liberals-are-the-true-heirs-of-the-nazi-spirit/

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/feb/08/goldberg-liberal-fascism-review

http://www.stephenhicks.org/2009/12/04/appendix-2-quotations-on-nazi-socialism-and-fascism-nietzsche-and-the-nazis/

http://berlin.wolf.ox.ac.uk/lists/nachlass/demcomind.pdf

[3] https://abdullahalandalusi.com/2015/11/08/maajid-nawaz-islamism-and-the-fallacious-you-share-the-same-ideology-as-isis-argument/

[4] http://thediplomat.com/2015/11/south-korean-president-compares-protesters-to-isis/

[5] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/north-korea-scorns-speculation-that-country-may-have-isis-links-1530176

[6] http://www.ibtimes.com/killing-kenji-goto-may-push-japan-closer-scrapping-ban-offensive-force-1801568

[7] https://thedebateinitiative.com/2016/03/26/the-secular-baathist-leadership-of-isis-expose-by-channel-4-uk/

[8] [Warning Highly Graphic Content] https://twitter.com/Omar_Madaniah/status/786596342910955520

[9] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/isis-terrorist-strung-up-burned-6343903

[10] http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/shia-militias-accused-torturing-sunni-civilians-near-fallujah-1366057542

[11] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2993300/Mutilated-beheaded-thrown-deaths-tall-buildings-time-pictures-claim-ISIS-fighters-subjected-wartime-atrocities-allegedly-carried-Iraqi-forces.html

[12] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35829231

[13] http://www.siliconafrica.com/wp-content/themes/directorypress/thumbs//Colonial-troops-with-african-heads.png

& https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bx06_HcCYAAZrq5.jpg



Categories: ARTICLES, Uncategorized, WRITINGS

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