ISIS: What to Do?!

Bless Patrick Cockburn: Rather than simply blame the US, he has managed to find multiple causes for the emergence of ISIS. In The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution, he considers middle east history from several perspectives. Especially interesting was his discussion of Saudi Arabia, a country which has exported Islamic fundamentalism, but is now fearing blowback from its own actions.

As one who’s inclined to avert my eyes from the middle east thinking it’s simply too much of a mess for anyone to fix, my attitude was only reinforced. Not only is the US not in a good position to help resolve anything, but countries in the thick of things are not finding easy solutions either. Nation States created after WWI never really jelled, although some enjoyed decades of uneasy peace with their diverse populations living side by side without constant bloodshed. Now? No one is safe.

With the advantage of distance, both physical and psychological, it’s clear to me that at some point communities within the diverse Muslim world will need to voice support for protection of people who have different beliefs, different points of view, different dress, different food, different cultural practices. Perhaps people who abide by these differences will spend eternity in hell, but that’s the risk they take, and it’s not your problem if they aren’t bothering you.

So, dear ISIS, there is no way out of this mess if you do not respect my right to believe things you don’t believe. I am not going to let you slaughter me just because I don’t share your beliefs, and there are many others closer to your self-proclaimed caliphate who agree. So until you chill out, we’ve got a problem.

Rez Life

This book will humble you if you think you understand tribal issues in contemporary America. Author David Treuer covers a range of issues while interspersing personal stories with a bit of background on laws and court rulings that have altered the landscape of life on reservations over the years.

Stories center on life on several Ojibwe reservations south of the Great Lakes, but the legal issues are common to tribes throughout the US. As Treurer fleshes out the meaning of “denominated domestic dependent nations,” we learn how tribal sovereignty has been the focus of legal hassles since treaties were first signed with over three hundred tribes around the country. Indians and non-Indians have sought control of fish, forests, minerals, water, and simply the land itself; states have tried to tax and regulate activities on reservations; the federal government has tried to force assimilation through various strategies; and now that casino money is changing the fortunes of many tribes, the matter of who is and who isn’t a member of the various tribes carries new significance.