The Shell-Shocked Mind Of A Counter Jihadist

The Shell-Shocked Mind Of A Counter Jihadist

My life has been utterly transformed in 2017.

One year ago, my life was entirely different. I was walking the path to an unwanted future I was certain I was destined to have, a future which felt inextricable from the sort of future I had once dreamed of living. A loveless marriage. A life focused on hanging out with friends, being a mom, and taking care of the house – all good things, all things I still love to do, but the way I saw them were not the way I see them now.

They didn’t feel like what I now see as wonderful, important, worthy,  day to day joys which serve myself, my son, or those around me.

They felt like an intellectual and emotional prison sentence.

As a child,  I was always seeking knowledge, always dreaming, always believing that my life would not be a benign fate. I wanted to choose. To be a stay at home mother. To be a politician. To write novels. To have a day job and a great family. Whatever.  It wasn’t about money, it wasn’t about always being happy.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted an extraordinary life. An extraordinary love. An extraordinary soul.  An extraordinary mind. Something.

What other life is worth living than one I would wish to fight for?

Somewhere, somehow, I lost that spirit. I let myself become convinced that a life with meaning is too much to ask for. That the only two options were a false humbleness, where I locked away any part of me that is in any way extraordinary, or an arrogant desire for the best of everything, lots of money, and an inflated ego.

This is not the paradigm I operate within today. 

I decided that my life was worth more than being complacent. I left my ex-husband. I found meaning in my son and I, even if it wasn’t the idyllic family I’d imagined. I found my love of learning again. I found my independence, because I had no other choice. I found my determination to stand up for what I believe to be right.

I found my fighting heart again. I thought it was gone, but it was only buried.

And then I started writing.

Many of you have been here a while, so I won’t bore you with the meandering journey from there to here. My community is wonderful. Halsey News is a dream job. Hosting Right Millennial is the highlight of my day. I get to speak to thousands of people across my various platforms. I get to be part of the conversation.

People care what I have to say. And put their trust in me to know something about the world. That is extraordinary.

In this way, my life has been blessed in a way I don’t understand, that I am thankful for every day. I am determined, no matter what, to keep getting better at what I know and what I do. It is a calling. Somehow, I know it is a calling.

But something else happened more recently that I didn’t foresee.

Last night, my partner Halsey English, my friend Jenn Sutton, and I did a show on Right Millennial. We talked about Islam and what we think the future holds. It was an incredibly heavy show – with a lot of strong words said by all, and a lot of depressing sub topics.

I recommend you watch the show, we covered a lot of things I haven’t beaten to death, but there was one core point I haven’t been able to get out of my head since last night.

My view of humanity has been irreversibly changed by joining the counter jihad.

Jenn is an ex-Muslim convert. She saw her mind change, felt the poison taking root and growing until her former self was covered over with new hatreds and new moral paradigms.

Halsey is a Jew who lived in Israel for ten years. He has witnessed terrorism and genocidal Jew-hatred first hand.

I’ve listened to both of them, at length, and I agree with them completely.

Experiencing Islamic violence and hatred first hand changes you in a way that you cannot truly understand in the theoretical realm.

In the past year, I have dedicated hours upon hours to understanding Islam. Understanding the Quran. The Sunnah of Muhammad. The way Islamic governments have used Islam to enforce Sharia. The Arabic terms which speak so ill of me and us. The way Sharia is being imported to the West. The way my de-facto view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was entirely based on my ignorance of Islam.

Perhaps most astonishingly, I’ve watched Islam turn me from a lifelong anti-war, mostly-isolationist to… something else. I’m not sure what term I would use to describe my foreign policy views. It’s a work in progress. But whatever clarity of thought I reach on that topic in time, I am certain that this paradigm shift on war is not one my mind has come to lightly.

I thought these things were what I needed to learn. But that isn’t what happened.

If I understood the doctrine, the history, the current reality, I would understand. I would be finished. I would know what I need to know to  play my small role in defending Western civilization, freedom, and humanity.

The mindset of Islam is not something I can sum up – I don’t think any ex-Muslim, or terror attack victim, or current Muslim can, either. It is a blurred picture coming into focus. It’s not about one Muslim terrorist, just like the Western mind is not about one normal American. It’s a collective, a collective way of seeing good and evil that is hard to wrap my mind around even today.

Halsey pointed out something to me last night. There will come a point, even if it’s years from now, where I cannot learn anything more through those traditional means. That eventually, the path to knowledge will go where I cannot follow – experiencing Islamic hatred first hand.

Because that is what it would take to understand the most important thing:  the frame of thinking prescribed by Islam. The soul of Islam, experienced by hundreds of millions of Muslims across the world.

I suppose firstly that I fear I will cross this bridge someday. With the nature of the circles I run in, with Ex-Muslim friends and Israeli friends and friends here in the West who speak out extremely publicly against Islam, the chances are far from zero that one of my friends will die.

That one of my friends (or even an acquaintance!) will be killed by a Muslim following Islam. I’m not a pessimist, but the possibility of this looms over me. How long? Can I really hope to go through the rest of my life experiencing this only theoretically?

Reading stories, seeing photos, talking to people, forever getting mentally close to the evil, without touching it?

I hope that I never come face to face with the violent Islamic mindset. Of course, I don’t want anyone I know to be harmed, but it’s more than that.

I would fear for my soul.

Not in the religious sense,  not that I think Islam would convict my mind towards evil instead of good, but in the sense that I feel a psychological change within myself that chills me to my core. There isn’t a before, and an after. There isn’t an obvious progression like there was with starting this job, or with finding my purpose and my fight again.

This has been gradual.

But, in a way, I feel like I’ve gotten a taste of Jenn’s mind, moving from pre-Islam to post-Islam. Without intending it, without any conscious decision, my mind has been changed. Is it a sort of harmful damage? Or simply the exhausting burden of seeking truth that most people don’t  bother to seek?

I have no answers to these questions.

This year has brought joy and purpose to my life.

But I have stood at edge of the abyss. And I’m not sure there is a way back.

If you enjoy my writing or my show, and want to contribute financially, please consider making a purchase from my Amazon wishlist.  Books are my main need, though there are occasional home office supplies on the list as well. Your purchase goes directly to helping me learn, and thus,  directly to helping me improve my content. I am so thankful for everyone who has donated so far. You can find the full list here. Thank you. ~ Stefanie MacWilliams

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About the Author

Stefanie MacWilliams
Stefanie MacWilliams is a dissident Canadian millennial, mom, buffalo sauce afficianado, and right-wing political troublemaker. She co-owns (and writes for), hosts the Right Millennial show on Youtube, and can be found frequently on her twitter account @StefMacwilliams or you can email her at