Belmont Club

The Strong Hearse

Lee Smith tries to explain why teenage girls in Western Europe are joining ISIS. “Because they want the same things that teenage boys want: a strong sense of meaning and purpose.” It’s happening even in Tunisia, the poster country for the Arab Spring. The NYT writes:

Nearly four years after the Arab Spring revolt, Tunisia remains its lone success as chaos engulfs much of the region. But that is not its only distinction: Tunisia has sent more foreign fighters than any other country to Iraq and Syria to join the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State. Although Tunisia’s steps toward democracy have enabled young people to express their dissident views, impatience and skepticism have evidently led a disgruntled minority to embrace the Islamic State’s radically theocratic alternative. Tunisian officials say that at least 2,400 Tunisians have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the group — other studies say as many as 3,000 — while thousands more have been blocked in the attempt.

The Washington Post thinks there’s a new strong horse in town: Military success has bred popular support for the Islamic State. People like a winner. A talker and a promiser, not so much. Islam now has an “aura”.

Even more disturbing are signs that the Islamic State has the sympathy of many noncombatants in the region. In the Lebanese port of Tripoli, a longtime stronghold of radical Sunni groups, murals of the group’s black flags are painted on buildings in the center of the city, according to the Wall Street Journal. In Turkey, pro-Islamic State students at Istanbul University have triggered a series of fights on campus, according to the Associated Press. In Jordan, a recent poll showed that only 62 percent of respondents considered the Islamic State terrorist, according to David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Such popular sentiment explains why leaders such as Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been reluctant participants in the anti-Islamic State coalition.

The New York Times says that Western women are embracing the Jihad in surprising numbers. “The precise number of women seeking to join the groups is unclear, but some analysts estimate that roughly 10 percent of recruits from the West are women, often influenced by social media networks that offer advice, tips and even logistical support for travel. These networks often portray life under the caliphate as a kind of Islamic paradise that offers a religious alternative to what can often be a second-class life of struggle and alienation in the West.”  Michael Totten points out “a poll released last week by the Washington Institute suggestss that the Islamic State may be more popular in Europe than in the Middle East.” Even in North America the urge to convert is strong. “Revealed: Muslim convert who shot dead Canadian soldier is the ‘privately-educated son of country’s immigration chief.”

When you are as Glenn Reynolds puts it, the “son of a jihadist and a Social Justice Warrior”, the Jihad is the dominant gene.

It’s gotten to the point where the old fuddy-duddy liberal feminists are beginning to doubt their protector.   They fear that president Obama won’t — or can’t keep them secure. Former Newsweek editor Tina Brown gave 4 reasons why women “no longer feel safe under president Obama”: ISIS and Ebola, their jobs suck and  item number  four is more atmospheric: “he’s too cool for school”.

Which probably means they still like him, just putting on the pouty face. The door’s open for him to come back.  They have to make it worth his while, though.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US cooperated secretly with the Kurds to save Kobani from ISIS. “Behind the scenes, top U.S. officials concluded the Syrian city of Kobani had become too symbolically important to lose and they raced to save it.” Optics, not geopolitics,  drive strategy. The White House was willing to lose Kobani until it was clear it would look bad from president Obama. So what have you got, Tina, to make him come back?

And one wonders, while we’re on the subject of the appeal of ISIS among Western women, whether the “Hussein” in the Barack Hussein Obama wasn’t part of his mystique in the first place.  Maybe the teenage jihadi girls want the same mystique too, only they want more than the thrill of a middle name.

The liberal ideology is a very old and empty idea that is continuously undergoing cosmetic surgery to look young. Liberalism isn’t Western culture, but its corpse.  Our institutions without the animating spirit are but a coffin containing the expiring remains of a once great civilization. The box is painted in bright colors, but the young have looked inside it and seen what it contains: a demographically dying, self-hating and ultimately amoral culture that’s ready for its ghastly closeup.

And for want of an alternative to this corpse they go to the only flag permitted to fly by the corpse itself: ISIS. Too many people are looking at the offerings of  decadence and theocracy and tossing the coin .  It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  The left believed it would be safe from rivals.  It feared Judaism and Christianity, but did not fear Islam, thinking it too hideous to compete.  Maybe it should reconsider.

Alduous Huxley understood that not everyone would buy into the Brave New World of the left. For all too many, the Obamacare and Obamaphones and Kim Kardashian diet won’t be enough. History shows the young always demand to know why men live and die. Snarky answers from Lena Dunham aren’t good enough any more. And of all the questions in the liberal west, none is more forbidden to ask than why you are alive.  As Huxley pointed out, in the perfect future, which is our present, God will be pornography.

“And I’ve got plenty more,” Mustapha Mond continued, resuming his seat. “A whole collection of pornographic old books. God in the safe and Ford on the shelves.” He pointed with a laugh to his avowed library–to the shelves of books, the rack full of reading-machine bobbins and sound-track rolls.

“But if you know about God, why don’t you tell them?” asked the Savage indignantly. “Why don’t you give them these books about God?”

“For the same reason as we don’t give them Othello: they’re old; they’re about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now.”

“But God doesn’t change.”

“Men do, though.”

“Then you think there is no God?”

“No, I think there quite probably is one.”

“Then why? … If you had a God, you’d have a reason for self-denial.”

“But industrial civilization is only possible when there’s no self-denial. Self-indulgence up to the very limits imposed by hygiene and economics. Otherwise the wheels stop turning.”

“You’d have a reason for chastity!” said the Savage, blushing a little as he spoke the words.

“But chastity means passion, chastity means neurasthenia. And passion and neurasthenia mean instability. And instability means the end of civilization. You can’t have a lasting civilization without plenty of pleasant vices.”

“What you need,” the Savage went on, “is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.”

“We prefer to do things comfortably.”

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

“In fact,” said Mustapha Mond, “you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.”

“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”

“Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen to-morrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.” There was a long silence.

“I claim them all,” said the Savage at last.

Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders. “You’re welcome,” he said.

When we locked up the sacred writing of our civilization in a safe labled ‘hate speech’; when we made it shameful to fly the flag, wear the uniform, or bow your head to something greater than the Great Leader what did we think we would get?  We got ISIS.

The Left believed they could abolish the transcendant without understanding that this process  risked abolishing man.  The Great Narrative strove to make man merely an animal, and in its stead they got a monster.


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