"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Rhetorical War as Politics By Other Means (I)

Yale University Press sent me a brand new book which I am reading with great interest: Philippe-Joseph Salazar, Words Are Weapons: Inside ISIS’s Rhetoric of Terror, trans. Dorna Khazeni (Yale UP, 2017), 256pp.

This, the publisher tells us, is:
The first book to offer a rigorous, sophisticated analysis of ISIS’s rhetoric and why it is so persuasive
ISIS wages war not only on the battlefield but also online and in the media. Through a close examination of the words and images ISIS uses, with particular attention to the “digital caliphate” on the web, Philippe-Joseph Salazar theorizes an aesthetic of ISIS and its self-presentation. As a philosopher and historian of ideas, well versed in both the Western and the Islamic traditions, Salazar posits an interpretation of Islam that places speech—the profession of faith—at the center of devotion and argues that evocation of the simple yet profound utterance of faith is what gives power to the rhetoric that ISIS and others employ. At the same time, Salazar contends that Western discourse has undergone a “rhetorical disarmament.” To win the fight against ISIS and Islamic extremism, Western democracies, their media, politicians, and counterterrorism agencies must consider radically changing their approach to Islamic extremism.
This book is of great interest to my own ongoing project into the uses and abuses of Crusades history in ISIS propaganda. I shall have more to say about all that later.


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