This piece contains some important and instructive insights. PunditFromAnotherPlanet spotted the essay at TabletMag.com and revealed it to us on his site.
Here’s a passage that PFAP’s quotes from the TabletMag piece, authored by one Lee Smith:
Western civilization is a success largely insofar as it has made the world a safe place for teenage girls—to go to school, get a job, and decide who and when to marry, or if they want to marry. When teenage girls turn away from One Direction and embrace ISIS, it means the West is losing.
My only quibble might be in degree, not in substance. In the west we’ve decided to coddle, pamper, swaddle and cosset teen-age girls, at the expense of teen-age boys who are falling behind due to the tsunami of focus on girls of every age. For some very strange reason, we in the West believe that we can raise one group only by tearing down another. However, it is true that society needs to make the world inhabitable for teen-age girls.
But, asserts Lee Smith, the writer at TabletMag, it’s not enough merely to provide for the material well-being of teen-age girls, you must also have an environment in which there is the opportunity for meaning. To this I can say only, “Bravo!”
ISIS, says Smith, is dangling nothing more nor less than deeper meaning in front of Europe’s, and the world’s, teen-aged girls. And many of them are jumping at it.
Here’s another selection, from the TabletMag piece:
Why? [the attraction to ISIS] Europe’s got great health care, welfare, and lots of attractive young men and attractive women who, unlike the vast majority of women in the Middle East outside of Israel, are sexually available. So, why given a choice between a comfortable, if somewhat boring, life as a pharmacist in Hamburg, or fighting and dying in the desert, are thousands of Western Muslims opting for the latter?
Because, for all the awesome social services and consumer goods it can offer, Europe has become incapable of endowing the lives of its citizens, Muslim or not, with meaning. A generation of young European Muslims are giving up their relatively easy lives in Malmö, Marseilles, and Manchester for the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, because Europe is devoid of values worth living—or dying—for. They are leaving for the same reason that Europe’s Jews are moving to Israel: Strength and a sense of purpose can be found elsewhere, whether it’s ISIS, Vladimir Putin, Ali Khameni, or the IDF.
I’d add one more thing. This is an important sign also for our aggressively secularizing western culture. These girls aren’t looking just for “meaning,” but for deeper meaning. They’re looking for transcendent meaning. Meaning that goes way beyond “finding your niche in the world,” to encompass “understanding their place in eternity.”
Importantly, and not ever to be forgotten, the boys are looking for that kind of meaning too. Smith’s piece indicates that the girls, however, are the canaries in the coal mine. Without coming out and saying it directly, Smith implies that where the girls go, so go the boys. I wish he’d said it overtly, because it’s true in all of life.
You could shoot back: “But what about the fervor that people directed toward the militantly atheistic Marxism and 20th Century Socialism?” That’s a great question, but with the same answer: “The enthusiasm directed toward atheistic socialism was also religious in nature — reaching desperately for the transcendent.” When you look at the major socialist figures of the 20th Century — Stalin, Hitler, Mao, the Kims in North Korea — you see so-called “atheists” who draped themselves in quasi-religious mysticism that would have made the most megalomaniacal pharaoh or divine-right monarch blush. If socialist leaders weren’t claiming divine powers or rights, then they were attributing those powers to socialism itself.
As the left does today.
You could say, if you were of a mind to challenge certain firmly-held notions, that in this way atheism disproves itself. The more militantly aggressive the culture is at rooting out the divine, the more the people express their desire for the supernatural, for God. Socialist leaders have unknowingly admitted this and even genuflected to it by trying to replace God either with their own image, or with that of socialism. Or, in the Middle East, with socialist islam.
In several of our recent essays, we showed the many things that both socialism and islam have in common. So many, in fact, that one wonders whether the founder of islam might have had socialism in mind, but realized that — at the time — it wouldn’t fly as a purely economic doctrine, so tossed in some religion. It’s a sure thing that he then incorporated all the coercive elements of socialism, including the iron-fisted, violent, smothering, stifling, stultifying secret police state. Furthermore, in vain does one imagine free elections, free speech, freedom of religion, expression or assembly, laissez-faire free market — free anything — in a country founded as an islamic theocracy.
Here are the final three paragraphs in the TabletMag piece:
Yes, what IS stands for is exceedingly stupid and vicious—like one of the evil Transformer figures that destroys everything in its way. But this is what happens when there’s a vacuum: Ugly ideas fill space. Looking around, it’s hard not to think that the ugly, the vicious, and the stupid have the upper hand these days, with little resistance from the so-called defenders of the good.
Vladimir Putin is a hip-hop icon because he’s got Europe eating out of his hand—he rolls large and can turn off Europe’s lights any time he wants. He can go as far into Ukraine as he likes because he knows the United States won’t stop him. Obama said that Iran won’t get a nuclear weapon, but after already acknowledging the clerical regime’s right to enrich uranium, the White House may now allow Iran to keep even more centrifuges. Israel may have crushed Hamas over the course of a 40-day Operation Protective Edge, but here come the Western nations, led by the United States, hosting a donor conference that will relieve Hamas of all responsibility for having brought death and destruction to Gaza. Why? Because they can no longer summon the vitality necessary to take down a gang of bearded terrorists with RPGs, and so they are hoping instead to buy them off.
What Europe’s disaffected youth see is that the Western powers roll over and take it, again and again. The issue isn’t that we enjoy being humiliated. It’s just that we don’t really believe there’s anything worth fighting for. And that’s why thousands of Europe’s young Muslim men have taken sides against us—and why 15-year-old girls hold us in contempt.
More to the point, we have nothing in the west that holds any opportunity for transcendent meaning in the life of a 15-year old girl. Why? We’re headed relentlessly to the very same atheistic Euro-socialism currently sapping the lifeblood, and the meaning, from Europe.
There’s an important thing to remember in all this: We must reverse course; not simply slow the rate of our decline. Both as a society, and as a society filled with the opportunity to find deeper meaning.(1) Our only hope is to stop, turn around, and go back to where we left the path, and rejoin the right path. Otherwise, we’ll see the same thing here. Our 15-year old girls will search for transcendent meaning somewhere other than in America.
(1) I know this is vague, but I think you know what I mean. There has been an aggressive move to remove the transcendent from the public sphere. What’s wrong with this, you say? Simple. The “public sphere” belongs to us … not to the government. Every time we allow the government to say something like, “You have to keep your religion to yourself as a private matter,” we say that we’re just fine with the government’s reach extending right up to our doorstep. I say, “H-E-double-hockey-sticks no!” I should be able to say and express anything I want, anywhere I want, with reasonable limits dictated by commonsense and courtesy. Including on the front steps of City Hall, that I paid for with my tax dollars. No, you don’t have to keep my manger scene up all year, but a few days? Sure. Same with the town green, and other “public” — ie: our — places. Nor, by the way, do we need to have any problem with non-intrusive, non-obnoxious muslim or jewish or even atheistic displays. Satanists? Nope. Openly confrontational, unserious, crackpots. In the same category as a Nazis. See? Easy. And it’s a good start.