30 November 2014

Does it matter if the Islamic State is 'self-declared'?

Writing yesterday about the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Turkey, John L. Allen, Jr. described the Islamic State as "self-declared", putting the phrase in quotation marks. Allen is neither the first nor the only American - or Western - journalist to describe the Islamic State in this way.

Whenever journalists use this phrase - or one similar to it - in regard to the Islamic State is used in an attempt to de-legitamize the new Islamic government in a growing portion of Iraq and Syria. If the Islamic State is "self-declared," it is illegitimate, so the thinking goes, and is not an actual government but simply a militant group.

Such a use of the phrase "self-declared" ignores an important reality: the United States of America was itself "self-declared" with the issuance of the Declaration of Independence. Self-declaration, then, does not, in and of itself, de-legitamize a government; no one would say that the government of the United Sates of America is illegitimate because it was "self-declared".

What is more, any group that issues its own currency is much more than a "militant group"; it is a government - whether we like it or not - and it is time the world began to realize this.

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