Responding to my note about the ISIS/Joker analogy from Obama’s interview with Jeff, a reader analyzed a couple more scenes from The Dark Night and suggested that the members of the Islamic State, like the Joker, are “agents of chaos.” But another reader, Jesse MacLean, disagrees, arguing that characterizing ISIS as nihilistic misses a fundamental truth about the group:
I love that The Atlantic is taking President Obama’s cinematic comparison and running with it. I’d like to add that further parallels between the Joker and ISIS can be found in Alfred’s famous “some men just want to watch the world burn” speech [embedded in the previous note]—specifically because the speech is wrong, and because Alfred is wrong about the Joker, in ways that I believe people are often wrong about ISIS.
In his speech, Alfred tells the story of a bandit he once faced in Burma. The government employing Alfred had been bribing local leaders with gems, and the bandit had been raiding the caravans transporting the precious stones, then throwing the gems away. Alfred concludes that the bandit was only raiding for the sport of it, and was completely beyond reason—like the Joker.
However, the idea that the bandit might have objected to the bribery is never considered.