The news is filled with accounts of mass murders, enslaving, rapes, beheadings, almost any atrocity one can think of by ISIS. And the group publicly brags about them. There are detailed accounts of the capture, enslaving, and repeated rape of young women like Kayla Mueller. Still, the group manages to induce very bright young people to defect from their countries and to join ISIS in Syria. Experts claim that ISIS offers young people an ordered life free from the frustrations of western culture and a chance to help oppressed people. They do not venture into much analysis about why young people allegedly in quest of doing good seem to be duped or supportive of an organization that does so much obscenely bad things to other humans. Or that ISIS is contrary to every other cultural and religious premise, and operates a constant, vicious holocaust.
Most of the young people who join ISIS, or attempt to, have Muslim connections. While it is a serious error--and problem--to suggest that the mad-dog Islamic jihadists represent the principles of the Muslim religion, the experts on radicalization point out that the appeal of ISIS is based on Muslim expectations and the promise that ISIS provides a way to fulfill the demands of Allah. To those who practice religions that preach a benign and accepting attitude toward fellow humans, the vicious malevolence of Islamic jihadists is incomprehensible. How do bright young people reconcile the rabid dementia openly proclaimed by ISIS with an alleged quest for helping the oppressed? How can they respond to western decadence by joining an organization that practices the most heinous outrages against humankind as a liturgy to the divine?
When 9/11 happened, people had and still have a hard time grasping the idea that young men will volunteer for suicide missions to kill thousands of people who never displayed any animus or threat to them. The conclusion is that these people, while showing some intelligence, have grave intellectual and moral defects which make them a danger to the world. They are like rabid dogs which are incapable of responding to any benign suasion.
The presence of Islamic jihadists and their destructive acts against humanity have not resulted in a submission to them that their acts of terror are supposedly committed to inspire. Rather, they have caused thinking people to make critical appraisals of the ignorant, destructive, and hate-inducing elements in all religions. Young people in the western world who have been raised in churches show a skepticism and aloofness from the dicta of their religions. They are more struck by the fallibility and perversity of some of the notions they were taught under the guise of religious morality. The perverse destructionism of the jihadists has called all religious belief into skeptical and critical question. Those who are attracted to ISIS are those who are not intellectually equipped or strong enough to realize that their defects of mentality make them vulnerable to men of perverse purpose. And so, young teenagers fall prey to ISIS recruitment.
Another aspect of human deterioration is the social media. The sight of students streaming out of high school with their eyes locked on the cell phones in their hands is portentous. The social media is the major recruiting tool of the jihadists.
It comprises the environment in which many people spend their time and focus their attention. They live virtual lives, artificially contrived for them. They have few reference points in the natural world. Youths have alwaysl formed cultures that often resent but challenge the cultures their elders handed down to them. At some point the adolescent revolt is confronted with reality. In some of those confrontations, such as during the civil rights movement and the Veit Nam War, those confrontations involve contending viewpoints within the general culture, and the qualities of liberty and justice are improved and expanded. But when people are absorbed by and into the social media, they are isolated from the intellectual and social currents that swirl around them. The social media can be both liberating and confining, and, as George Orwell warned, can be used to reduce humans to automatons under the control of minds who create holocausts. Our education systems and our media have not learned how to put the social media in a critical context so that we can distinguish between the media and the messages they carry and perceive them through critical ilntelligence.
Mainstream theologians who cater to the majority of lay Muslims, both Sunni and Shiite, are unable to address such critical moral and theological challenges as evolution, gender and sexuality, or the role and meaning of sharia in a modern nation. That’s because theological education is steeped in ancient texts with little attention to reinterpretation.
Groups like the Islamic State propound antiquated teachings still held to be true by many orthodox authorities. These include enslaving prisoners of war and taking female prisoners as concubines.