Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh about to be burnt alive.

We get it!
We already know that ISIS are a bunch of c**nts.

We even suspect that when they were born, they weren’t actually born. Instead they stayed between their mother’s legs, being continuously banged by their goat-faced fathers, while their hair-lipped mothers’ gangrenous c**ts dropped to the ground, grew legs, donned turbans, and walked the Earth as their avatars.

They certainly look it (↓↓↓).

OK, this is just a bit of overwrought rhetoric that I wrote to stylistically echo the main motif of this essay – the jumping of sharks, something that ISIS is engaged in at the moment, following their latest stunt, the burning of a Jordanian pilot alive in a cage.

The phrase "to jump the shark" of course refers to a notorious episode of the 1970s TV sitcom Happy Days, when, low on ideas to maintain ratings, the main character was shown jumping a shark while water skiing.

While repulsed almost as much as the next person by the specific acts of human brutality that ISIS dish up, I still cannot find it in my heart to blame them too much. After all, the horrific thing they are is not without its brutal rationale. In many ways ISIS is a perfectly logical response to events and processes in the Middle East.

Consider that the most stable and affluent country in the region still whips women for being raped, condones the scalding of Filipino servants with boiling water, and executes women by half burying them and then stoning their brains out.

Quite simply this is a shitty neighbourhood, and in recent years, all we’ve done is kill off the best and brightest of its necessarily brutal dictators, in the process upsetting fragile balances of power and unleashing dark forces.

Most notably, the Sunnis of Iraq and Syria have been pushed into a corner. In the one country where they are a majority (Syria), they have been subjected to rule by a minority, an anomaly that grew out of the previous French colonial administration favouring members of the Alawite minority in its armed forces, which later became the Syrian army.

In the other country (Iraq), where they were in the minority, but had been left in charge by their fellow Sunnis the Turks – and after them the British – they then had the misfortune to be kicked into the gutter by America’s crude foreign policy, which placed them at the mercy of Iraq’s Shiite majority.

Yes, ISIS are such a bunch of c**nts that it's a tautology to say so. But, then, so might we all be if we were the long-suppressed underclass, or the recently deposed overclass, in one of the nastiest parts of the world.

Just like its Abrahamic brothers – Judaism and Christianity – Islam has its uses, and while Judaism is nationalism for a people without a nation, and Christianity is a system of pacifying the over-strong and over-aggressive tendencies of warrior races, Islam is its exact opposite – a system for mobilizing, uniting, and motivating the weak, downtrodden, and unwarlike into a reasonably effective fighting force. Cruelty is the vice of the weak, after all.

But despite their local successes, ISIS has not been too smart on the PR front. With the blood they spill in odd and interesting ways, they have nevertheless painted themselves into a corner.

The problem is they have created a pantomime villain image of Islam just at the moment when the world needs it most. This has even persuaded the limp-wristed, temporarily un-Neocon colossus of America and its European hangers on (worried about the rock n’ roll element that ISIS represent to their own disaffected youth) to rattle their sabres and drop a few bombs.

ISIS has thus found itself in an asymmetrical conflict, where its only way of hitting back is to employ the Stalinesque maxim that "one death is a tragedy, a million a statistic" and to milk each execution of those unfortunates who fall into its power for all they are worth.

ISIS the musical.
Jihadi John and the orange jump suits in the desert was a nice touch – grimly aesthetic and a poetic reminder of the Guantanamo prisoners, illegitimately held by the United States. But once you’ve cut off a few heads this way, the gimmick wears thin and Youtube hits hit the skids. Been there, seen!

When your only weapon is shock, you quickly get trapped in a cycle of diminishing returns. Throwing gays off high buildings and selling Yazidi women as sex slaves starts to get passé, as the French say. When you’re reduced to lining up eight prisoners in orange jumpsuits for a synchronized execution, it actually starts to look like you’re putting on a chorus line in a failing musical. ISIS have jumped the shark so, badly, that I almost think their next stunt will be to buy an actual shark tank with real sharks to drop their next victim into, who will actually be the Fonz!

I know how war works. I know how fear turns men into beasts. We are seeing some of this in Russia and the West’s not-so-proxy war in the Ukraine. Even professionals end up with trauma and act like animals, but we’re not talking about professionals, we’re talking about amateurs.

If ISIS want to do better, if they really want to impress the world, emanate power, and secure the interests of their benighted demographic, then they should develop a little honour, a sense of generosity... Cruelty palls and bores, and it looks weak. The most shocking thing they could do – and also the most effective – would be to be nice. But that would require reserves of strength that these anthropomorphised pubic hairballs simply don’t have. After all, they’re Muslims for a reason, and that reason is they are weak.

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