By now most Americans -- to say nothing of much of the world's population -- are aware of the loathsome, violent, unspeakable actions of leaders and disciples of the Islamic State, or ISIS.
We have seen brutal murders, shocking beheadings and more. All without remorse, all without any sense of their common humanity with ours. ISIS has taken the theological thuggery of al-Qaida and put it on mainlined steroids to produce a previously inconceivable version of Islamism that denigrates an ancient religion.
But until I read this Acton Institute blog, I had not considered in much sordid detail the depraved ways in which ISIS thinks about -- and treats -- females.
No person of conscience can learn of such things and remain silent. To do so would be to join with those in a previous age who knew what Germany, through its Nazi leaders, was doing to Jews and chose not to oppose it.
The Acton piece led me to this interview with Zainab Bangura (pictured here), the United Nations' envoy on sexual violence in conflict.
An excerpt from Bangura's remarks:
After attacking a village, IS splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.
There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market. At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.
We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his "property."
I do not have an answer for how to stop ISIS or even what exact role the U.S. should play in that effort. But I know malignant evil when I see it and none of us can be silent until this kind of violent misogyny is stopped.
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A JOURNALIST COMES OUT
I confess I was surprised to learn that Kevin Eckstrom, who recently left the job of editor of Religion News Service to work for the National Cathedral, has acknowledged that he is gay, married and that he and his partner are parents of two children. I've met Kevin a few times and had some professional correspondence with him but was unaware of his sexual orientation. It looks now as if he can live authentically and openly as who he is. Good. He's an excellent journalist and a really fine human being.