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Gray Zone


Exibit One:
* Image taken from here. It was originally part of an IS publication.

The Islamic State attack in Jakarta…is part of the same campaign as the Paris attack last November. While the Jakarta attack was nowhere near as successful in terms of casualties, including those killed, the objectives of the attack was the same as of last Novembers in Paris. Islamic State has two objectives for their attacks – both related. The first is to attack the Gray Zone; the social and civil space that Muslims live in. It is an attempt to force Muslims, whether in the US or Britain or France or Indonesia or Jordan or anywhere else, to choose sides. To define themselves not only as Muslims, but as Muslim in such a way that sets them apart from their fellow citizens. It is both a figurative and literal attempt to collapse the public realm/sphere into the private one. The Islamic State hopes that by doing so they can then achieve their objectives of recruiting Muslims to relocate to the Caliphate – the only place where actual Islam is being practiced or to stay in place and use their local knowledge to attack targets that further weaken the Gray Zone. So the first objective is to set the conditions for recruiting by attacking the Gray Zone.

The second of the Islamic State’s objective with the Jakarta attack, just as it was with the Paris attack last November, is to get the US, its allies and its partners to provide the ways and means that the Islamic State does not have to achieve IS’s ends. This is terrorism as Psychological Operations (PSYOPS). While Indonesia still has its socio-political problems, they’ve come a long way from the Suharto and Sukarno regimes. This is summed up in what has become the Indonesian national motto: bhinneka tunggal ika, which means unity in diversity. The attacks earlier today are intended to shatter, if not reverse, Indonesia’s attempts to achieve unity in diversity. IS hopes that the Indonesian response, a crackdown on Muslim Indonesians, will destroy the Gray Zone, providing the Islamic State with new recruits and a justification for further attacks, which will then lead to greater crackdowns, as well as the imposition of security protocols that erode the Indonesian political, social, and economic reforms of the past eighteen years. Moreover, they hope that attacks in Indonesia will lead other states and societies to react out of fear and panic, eroding their Gray Zones and putting a truth to the lie that ideals of liberty and freedom and diversity are just a facade. The Islamic State cannot achieve these ends themselves. They are hoping we will be so scared as to do it for them

The Gray Zone is not just the social and civil public space in which Muslims live. Everyone lives in it when not in private. We can see it under attack by Ammon Bundy and his followers in Harney County, Oregon, among white, Christian Americans just as it is under attack in Paris and Jakarta and other places by the Islamic State.

-Adam L Silverman

Exhibit Two:

“Anarchism stands for liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion: the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property: liberation from shackles and restraint of government. It stands for social order based on the free grouping of individuals.”

-Emma Goldman

“First time I read Emma Goldman wasn’t in a book. I was sixteen, hiking near the Nevada border. The quote was painted on a wall in red. When I saw those words it was liked someone ripped them from the inside of my head. The concept was pure, simple, true, it inspired me, led a rebellious fire, but ultimately I learned the lesson that Goldman, Purdot and the other learned. That true freedom requires sacrifice and pain. Most human being only think they want freedom. In truth they yearn for the bondage of social order, rigid laws, materialism, the only freedom man really wants, is the freedom to be comfortable.”

-John Teller

Exhibit Three:

As there is some confusion over Climate and Weather, there also seems to be confusion over Culture and Religion. Much of what we find abhorrent in the Middle East, child brides and the abasement of women in general is a Cultural rather than Islamic situation. If there had never been a Mohammed, and you have only to look in What’s New to find dissertations on that, these practices would still be in force as they are Cultural, not Religious. Indeed many of them are practiced in Cultures with Hindu and Christian Beliefs. It is well to remember that while Islam is used as a justification for such practices, Christianity was used as a justification for Slavery in our Nation a scant, historically speaking, 150 years ago. Likewise, and at the same time, Christianity was used as a justification for abolition. Our Civil War was a Cultural war, not a Religious war. Both sides in our current discussion of Islam want to claim it as monolithic, but it is as diverse in its practice and interpretation as Christianity. Shira Law is not written and will tend to follow the Culture it comes from, but it is a community interpretation that has no influence outside of that community, as there is no central authority, or Pope-like figure in Islam. It is in common with the Jewish Halacha Laws, which are also community based. ISIS, Shrugging Atlases and their ilk want this Monolithic Islam, to eliminate the Grayzone, make it an Us or Them, but what this comes down to is a handful of radicals on each side representing only their own interests, while the masses caught between just want the freedom to be comfortable.

Exhibit Four:

And so we come full circle.



Uncle Willie loves to have feedback from both readers who appreciate his point of view as well as from missguided souls who disagree.