As I attempted to describe in several comments here and here, context makes a world of difference and is something that was sorely missing from Wood’s original article on ISIS, despite it’s detailed long-windedness.
The article below addresses that omission. It’s a bit long, but nowhere near the 10,000+ words of Wood’s original article which, to be quite honest, struck me as yet another example of intellectual Islamophobia—something not very different from “scientific” racism, IMO.
Since Monday, much has been said in print, radio, and television about Graeme Wood’s recent front-page feature piece for The Atlantic entitled “What ISIS Really Wants.” The article, which is lengthy and highly descriptive, and is essentially an exhaustive examination of the ideology that shores up the cruel vision, messages, and tactics of ISIS, the radical militant group currently terrorizing entire sections of the Middle East. But while the article was initially met with widespread praise, it has since become the subject of criticism and even condemnation from several groups, including Muslim academics, scholars of Islamic law, Muslim leaders and high-profile political pundits.
Critics have elucidated a slew of issues with the piece, but many are rooted in quotes by Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University who Wood quotes extensively to justify his claims. When ThinkProgress spoke with other scholars in Haykel’s field, however, at least one expressed surprise at his involvement with the piece, and indicated curiosity about the scholar’s thoughts on the final product.
With this in mind, ThinkProgress reached out to Haykel, who agreed to an interview to help dispel any misconception that he is trying to score “political” points, explaining, “my approach is a scholarly one and not motivated by an agenda.” He admitted that he had initially read Wood’s article quickly — “it’s a long piece,” he joked — and declined to directly address most of Wood’s claims other than to insist the piece was ultimately “[Wood’s] argument … not my argument.” Still, he didn’t shy away from expanding on some things the author left out or possibly misrepresented, and offered a revealing examination of what’s at stake when fighting ISIS. […]
From the author of the article:
Interesting reactions to my Atlantic/ISIS posts. Many Muslims and Islam scholars? Fans The author, conservatives, random dudes? Not so much