Ed Driscoll

'There’s All Kinds of People for Whom the Evil of ISIS is its Principle Selling Point'

Mark Steyn, during his interview with Hugh Hewitt yesterday, explores how ISIS’ snuff films attract disaffected westerners:

HH: This is so horrific, I don’t know even how to approach it. The Islamic state has kidnapped as many as 350 Assyrian Christians – women, children, and they’ve taken them away in the night. Meanwhile, we’re learning about Jihad Johnny. And it seems like on this side of the Atlantic, and this side of the world, the only thing the Obama administration can get upset about is Benjamin Netanyahu coming here.

MS: Yeah.

HH: What is, you know, not Valerie Jarrett, but Susan Rice said it’s damaging to the relationship that the Prime Minister, destructive was her word, her exact word. What do you think of this?

MS: No, I think it’s an extremely weird obsession. We are losing to an explicitly genocidal and apocalyptic movement that controls substantial amounts of territory, and as we discussed last week, is incredibly attractive to educated citizens in the Western world. When you were talking, you said they kidnapped all these Christians in the middle of the night. I would doubt they actually did that. You know, that’s the way the old school guys, your Nazis and fascists and communists used to do it. They were furtively, at some level, they knew, they were ashamed of their evil, and they didn’t want it to get out. These guys use evil as their calling card. They use evil in their campaign ads. They use evil in their movie promotions. And it’s very, and it’s horribly seductive to all these thousands of people who are supposed to be nominally citizens of Western nations, not just this Jihad John guy from London, but there’s Americans from Minnesota and elsewhere, there’s Canadians, Australians. There’s all kinds of people for whom the evil, the evil of ISIS, is its principle selling point.

HH: Let me ask you about this, because I asked Jeb Bush this yesterday in an interview with him. What’s the tap root? And he had dismissed Marie Harf’s joblessness claim, as we all do. It’s just absurd and silly and moronic. And I asked him about it, and he fumbled around, and he came up with sort of civilizational alienation. What do you think it is, Mark Steyn?

MS: Yeah, I think there’s a measure of truth in that. I think at the heart of the, at the heart of most modern Western societies is a big hole where young people’s sense of identity is. And some of it, you know, you saw a lot of that at the Oscars. They fill it with sexual politics, with all this LGBTQWERTY. I mean, I don’t even know what the last 17 initials. I know, I haven’t a clue what it is they’re meant to be, these evermore recherché sexual identity politics. Or they said it was climate change. They want to feel they’re saving the planet. And maybe that’s enough for some people. But for other people, it isn’t. And it’s not first-generation Muslims. It’s not second-generation Muslims. It’s the young third-generation Muslims in the Western world who have no attachment to the societies they owe their nominal allegiance to. This gives them an identity that the modern, Western, multicultural state, in its late civilizational decline, does not give them that identity.

How much is today’s nihilistic pop culture to blame for ISIS? During the cultural upheaval of 1966 and ’67, when the American left abandoned LBJ’s Great Society and turned against his efforts at fighting communism in Vietnam, the Beatles tossed away their collarless matching Pierre Cardin suits for kaftans, began following the Maharishi, sang “All You Need is Love,” and millions of middle class teenage kids in America, England and Europe aped their gestures, launching the hippie movement. Today though, if you’re an impressionable young middle class follower of contemporary “gangsta rap” music (a phrase so prevalent, I just noticed that Firefox’s spell checker no longer points it out as a typo), then Sug Knight’s alleged homicide(s) seem like small beer, when you can really play Public Enemy on the world’s stage. Why play “the knockout game,” uploading your violent clips to approving Websites such as “WorldStarHipHop,” when you can upload far worse violence to YouTube? Why bother working your way through one of Marie Harf’s dullsville jobs programs, when you can really get an exciting entry level position?

Besides, as one Daily Beast headline claims, “ISIS: Christians Worse Than Murderers.” There are lots of people on the cultural left who’d agree.

Update: As Steyn told Hewitt, “There’s all kinds of people for whom the evil, the evil of ISIS, is its principle selling point:”

The terror group uploaded a video Thursday of men smashing statues, pulling artifacts from walls and attacking Mosul antiquities with sledgehammers and power tools. To justify their violence, ISIS classified all these representations of man and beast as idols. Some of the irreplaceable works date back to the 7th century B.C.

Why so physical, when there are browser apps today for tossing unwanted cultural and linguistic artifacts down the memory hole?