Jonah Goldberg

…the Islamic State — and groups like it — is a modern Foreign Legion for losers. When discussing people who openly boast of rape, murder, and torture, “loser” is hardly too harsh. But invective is not my intent when I call them losers. These men — and a few women, too — are losers in a more significant sense. They are losers at Western civilization.

Recently the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) posted transcripts from Facebook and Twitter conversations among various French and British supporters of the Islamic State. They enthusiastically chatted about the exciting news that you can buy slave women in areas controlled by the Islamic State. The terrorist group reportedly captured an unknown number of women from the ethnic minority called Yazidis. They aren’t Muslims, so they can be used as chattel.

The men in the discussions asked all sorts of questions about the rules for sexually abusing (i.e., raping) the women. One British Muslim asked, “I have 3,500 dollars to spare, I am going to buy ten, who wants one?” A French man joked that 180 dollars must be the “price for the ugly ones.” There were plenty of “LOLs” in the thread. Because, you know, collecting the female survivors of mass murder and raping them is just so Laugh-Out-Loud funny to cretins who can bed women only at sword-point.

Many of the Westerners flocking to Syria and Iraq for “jihad tourism” don’t have any of the usual excuses one hears for terrorism. Just like the 9/11 hijackers, they are often middle-class, educated, and technologically adept.

What they are not is assimilated. They may have passports identifying them as American, French, or British, but they are not American, French, or British in their hearts. These labels do not give them the meaning and mission in life they crave. And Western democratic capitalism bores them. Often the children of immigrants, they are literally misfits; they don’t fit in with their parents’ native culture, but they also haven’t connected to the society in which they now live.

And that is nothing new. The French intellectual Olivier Roy observed over a decade ago that many of the violent Islamists in Europe were in fact “born-again Muslims” who adopted Islam not so much as a sincere religious conversion but as a radical pose against the West. In previous generations, they might have joined Marxist terror groups.

In other words, the ideology of radical Islamists is a convenient uniform in their crusade for power, sex, vengeance, excitement, whatever. TheTelegraph’s Tim Stanley notes that one poll in France finds that more people in France, compared with residents of the Gaza Strip, support the Islamic State.

NBC News reports that since the release of the video showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley, some 28,000 pro–Islamic State Twitter accounts were created.