Meet Douglas McAuthur McCain, American Killed in Action in Syria

There's no doubt that anybody given the name Douglas McAuthur McCain by his parents would have a strong urge to consider enlisting in the military, if only to live up to all of the history implicit in your name (even if the spelling of your middle name isn't quite spot-on, and your last name was purely a coincidence).

It helps, though, to carefully choose the correct fighting force when volunteering, as NBC reports (yes, I know, but presumably, some of these details might be correct). As Bill Murray and the late Harold Ramis sang while marching in Stripes, goofing on TV recruitment ads, "Pick a service, pick a challenge, set yourself apart: Army! Navy! Air Force! Marines!" Err, ISIS?

The battle in itself seemed tragically normal. Two Syrian opposition groups fought and there were heavy casualties on both sides. Then victorious rebels rifled through the pockets of the dead. One contained about $800 in cash -- and an American passport.

Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, was killed over the weekend fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to the Free Syrian Army. Photos of McCain's passport and of his body -- which feature a distinctive neck tattoo -- have been seen by NBC News. According to an activist linked to the Free Syrian Army who also saw the body and travel document, McCain was among three foreign jihadis fighting with ISIS who died during the battle.

NBC goes on to note that McCain was "a goofball in high school":

Douglas McAuthur McCain was born in Illinois on Jan. 29, 1981. His family later moved to Minnesota's Twin Cities area where he attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope as part of the class of 1999.

Classmates at the school – which was described to NBC News as around 75 percent white and 10 percent African American - recalled an “always smiling” joker who liked to laugh and play basketball. McCain wasn’t on the high school team and didn't come across as religious, according to one basketball buddy.

“He was a goofball in high school,” that classmate told NBC News. “Doug was a fun guy to be around. Played basketball, joked a lot, had a small sense of humor. Got along with most … Wasn't the best athlete, but liked to play.”

Much more after the page break.

As Mark Steyn has written on numerous occasions, such as this article from 2007, just about all Islamic terrorists seem like goofballs "if they're caught before the act":

That's certainly true of the Fort Dix jihadists who took their terrorist training DVD to the local audio store to be copied. It was also true of the Islamists arrested in Toronto last year for plotting to behead the Prime Minister, one of whose cell members had a bride who wanted him to sign a pre-nup committing him to jihad. The Heathrow plotters arrested while planning to blow up U.S.-bound airliners included a Muslim convert who'd started out as the son of a British Conservative Party official with a PG Wodehouse double-barreled name and a sister who was a Victoria's Secret model and ex-wife of tennis champ Yanick Noah.

But then Mohammed Atta and the 9/11 gang would have seemed pretty funny if you'd run into them in that lapdance club they went to before the big day where the girls remembered them only as very small tippers. Most terrorists are jokes until the bomb goes off.

Other than its Ice Station Zebra-level winter temperatures, Minnesota, based on what I've read in James Lileks' daily "Bleat" and from what I saw I was there for the 2008 GOP convention, is a rather pleasant place to live -- but then so are many western environments in which men like Douglas McAuthur McCain emerge, as Mark noted in another piece from 2006:

Writing about the collapse of nations such as Somalia, the Atlantic Monthly’s Robert D. Kaplan referred to the “citizens” of such “states” as “re-primitivized man.” When lifelong Torontonians are hot for decapitation, when Yorkshiremen born and bred and into fish ‘n’ chips and cricket and lousy English pop music self-detonate on the London Tube, it would seem that the phenomenon of “re-primitivized man” has been successfully exported around the planet. It’s reverse globalization: The pathologies of the remotest backwaters now have franchise outlets in every Western city. You don’t have to be a loser Ontario welfare recipient like Steven Chand, the 25-year-old Muslim convert named in the thwarted prime ministerial beheading. Omar Sheikh, the man behind the beheading of the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl, was an English “public” (i.e., private) schoolboy and graduate of the London School of Economics.

Five years after 9/11, some strategists say we can’t win this thing “militarily,” which is true in the sense that you can’t send the Third Infantry Division to Brampton, Ontario. But nor is it something we can win through “law enforcement” — by letting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the FBI and MI5 and every gendarmerie on the planet deal with every little plot on the map as a self-contained criminal investigation. We need to throttle the ideology and roll up the networks. These fellows barely qualify as “fifth columnists”: Their shingles hang on Main Street. And, even though the number of Ontarians prepared actively to participate in the beheading of the prime minister is undoubtedly minimal, the informal support of the jihad’s aims by many Western Muslims and the quiescence of too many of the remainder and the ethnic squeamishness of the modern multicultural state provide a big comfort zone.

As Mark added, “it seems the true globalization success story of the 1990s was the export of ideology from a relatively obscure part of the planet to the heart of every Western city." And with the left busy inculcating American students that the country is just another run-of-the-mill nation "somewhere on the UN Roll Call between Albania and Zimbabwe," it certainly makes Islamofascism that much more appealing an alternative to sign up for.

Even for a guy whose parents named him Douglas McAuthur McCain.