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Islamic State, the thrill [ ?? !! ]

[ by Charles Cameron — the violence, the sheer cruelty, is stupefying, true, and frequently misunderstood ]



What I’d like to do is to reverse the idea that saying IS does horrific things will dissuade those vulnerable to its messaging from joining..

SPEC DQ thrill of IS

Or as JM Berger puts it:


Roger Griffin of Oxford Brookes University notes that on the way in, video imagery of violence may be attractive:

They have actually succeeded in creating an image for themselves, which to a generation of people who spend a lot of their time in virtual reality can actually make it quite sort of acceptable to enjoy the spectacle of slaughter and bloodshed and crass heroism”

Attempts to “counter” the violence in IS tweets by commenting on how violent IS is may backfire — an idea that State’s counter-narrative mavens [see example above] may want to take on board.

On the way out, however, the violence may have been all too real, and no way glamorous in viscerally experienced reality. Prof. Griffin again:

Some of the Muslims coming back from fighting in Syria aren’t going to be more jihadist than the jihadi and trying to blow things up, but would have actually seen slaughter, cruelty, and the nauseating aspect of violence. They could be wonderfully used, if used sensitively, as part of a counter narrative


Sources for DoubleQuote:

  • Simon Cottee: Why would anyone join ISIL?
  • Samar Yazbek: Syria has been hung, drawn and quartered
  • 5 Responses to “Islamic State, the thrill [ ?? !! ]”

    1. Grurray Says:

      You are the expert on comparative religion and mythology. What do you think of comparing the cult of ISIS to Euro-centric Christian legends? I think it’s a bridge too far, but, whether because of guilt or disdain, it seems some people just insist on believing a fundamental equivalency.

    2. Charles Cameron Says:

      Hi, Grurray:
      Euro-centric Christian legends? Could you elaborate a bit?

    3. Grurray Says:

      I was referring to the treatise from the neo-intellectuals at Aeon magazine on ISIS as an Orientalist update of Tolkien’s “fairytail”. I would usually just shrug off incitements such as that one, but for some reason this time it hit a nerve.

    4. Charles Cameron Says:

      It’s an interesting piece for me to read (which I hadn’t bothered with until now) since I hadn’t recalled Aragorn as a Once and Future King — but the concept of the Pendragon in CS Lewis comes pretty close. An Arthurian trope? Not sure if Charles Williams references it, either.
      For IS? Not so much, really — I think the “slow” & “territorial” apocalypticism of the caliphate is the point we tend to miss. I now have an advane copy of McCants book on the topic, it’s fascinating! Will review it here when appropriate..

    5. Ornamtal Peasant Says:

      The NYTimes describes the substantial effort taken to radicalize one “lonely 23-year-old Sunday school teacher and babysitter” living with her grandparents, here:
      The London Daily Telegraph follows “the three British schoolgirls who ran away from home to join the Islamic State group in Syria were kept under close watch in a compound for widows and would-be jihadi brides while their loyalty to the movement was tested, The Telegraph has learned. …” (further links from piece)

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