Jean Barker

Worse than al-Qaeda

2014-09-05 08:35

Jean Barker

Turns out, things really could always be worse. I'm not usually the kind of person who is willing to call any organisation "evil". I'm nervous of media bias. I'm aware of the dangers of simplifying and drawing lines. But finally, I see no point in denying that ISIS - the psychotic surviving aborted foetus of al-Qaeda - is that thing: Evil. They glory in brutality. They dirty the name of Allah and Islam with their shameful actions. They kill and torture and they're proud of it. If that isn't evil, what the hell is?

Their brutal violations of international law, recorded on video and supplied with boastful glee via social media and the news media, show enemy captives being humiliated in their underwear and shot in their hundreds, journalists executed by anonymous hooded men, and recruited child soldiers given severed heads to hold for photos.

The horror they're visiting on the Islamic world and threaten to extend globally cannot be underestimated. While social media can be used for great good, as it is by Bahrain's Maryam al-Khawaja, it can also be used to recruit apparently normal people for crazy jihadist missions from the most unexpected places. Like uh... Scotland.

Giving people excuses

Recruited via radical chat-rooms from her bedroom in Glasgow, this "Bride of ISIS", Aqsa Mahmood, left university and her family behind to travel to Syria and marry an ISIS fighter, and from there, began recruiting others to join her. Now, look, I get that some people are into a bit of kink in the bedroom. But what sane woman would actually choose to be dressed up as Darth Vader, give up her hard-won feminist rights, and desire to martyr herself for a cause that seems to be all about hate? Apparently, a high IQ and an education offers no protection against stupidity.

ISIS also gives all sorts of stupid people excuses to hate Muslims with renewed passion. If you take the crazier commandments of any religion and apply them literally in the modern world, any religion could be interpreted to lead to similar actions. Stupid people don't see this, however, because stupid, cowardly people always keep it simple. There are always a lot of morons available to fly a fascist flag, as history and online comments boards have proved again and again.

Tragically, many of the women and children who are powerless to resist ISIS tactics will die in the upcoming battle to eradicate them, and it doesn't end there. The children of the children of those that join them will carry their shame, the way Germany still, to some extent, carries the shame of Nazi Germany many generations later.

So is there any point in being anything other than completely depressed?

They will not win

Well, I cling to a conversation I had with my father in about 1982 or so, when I first became fully conscious of the world I lived in, back in the 1980s in South Africa. We were driving somewhere in his VW Beatle, I don't remember where, just that it was dark and I was upset.

“Will apartheid go on forever?” I asked.

“Well, I don't know, but I don't think so,” he said.


“Well, if you look at history, you'll see that you can't keep a system in place that is basically wrong, and unwanted by most of the people, even if you have more weapons and more money.” Then he also told me all about what happened in Vietnam, and how Americans got rid of the British. It was scary because I didn't want a war, but also inspiring, because I wanted the right thing to happen in the end.

ISIS may be killing Iraqis who resist them, but if my father is right, and I believe he is on this one thing at least, they will not win this or any other war on human rights... in the long run.

Living in the USA, I'm also grateful that Obama is president, and not someone like Bush. Inflammatory White House rhetoric would do no good at this point, though it still feels like a full scale, international war is becoming inevitable.

- Jean earned an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting and works in the LA film industry. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

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