The Orlando mass murder-terror attack was the most deadly such incident in U.S. history (aside from outright war). At least 50 people were killed and over 50 injured. To donate in support of the victims, visit this GoFundMe site.
News reports indicate the shooter, Omar Mateen, was the son of an Afghan father and influenced by Muslim extremist views. The attack on the Pulse nightclub, frequented by the LGBT community, further supported the view that this was a homophobic hate crime.
Given this complicated set of motivations, it’s important to cut through the web of smug, self-satisfied counter-hate spun by the MSM and far-right politicians like Donald Trump, in particular.
What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Though the killer supposedly pledged allegiance to ISIS, it’s far too early to tell whether he did so as a lone gunman or as part of a larger conspiracy or under direct training or instruction. But given his Afghan background it’s safe to say that a fundamentalist version of Islam molded the views which played a part in the massacre.
To those Islamophobes like Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz who are celebrating these killings because they “confirm” their own prejudices, we must remind them that the vast majority of terrorism in this country is perpetrated by white Christians against Blacks, Muslims and Jews. The views of the majority of domestic terrorists are closer to Donald Trump than they are to ISIS or al-Qaeda.
Who among us can say there aren’t 100 white men who could’ve just as easily attacked that club filled with members of the LGBT community. In fact, scores of gays in this country have been killed by just such people.
But we shouldn’t omit his ex-wife’s statements that he was not only regularly abusive to her, but that he was mentally unstable. She’s called him “bipolar” and said he’d had a history of abusing steroids, a condition common to the leader of the Boston Marathon terror attack. His father apparently also suffers from similar delusions. In most cases of mass shootings of this sort, even when there is a political or racial factor, mental illness plays a role. Yet, this country spends pitifully little to support mental health services.
Another factor in common between this attack and the Boston bombing was an immigrant Muslim family trying to find a footing in this country and failing to do so. The acculturation process for some of these families is unsuccessful. Thus the children are left to fend for themselves. As a result they flounder, turning to drugs, hardcore religion or crime. The Muslim community, state, local and federal governments should do more to create, or strengthen youth outreach/social programs for at risk immigrant youth.
There will be Israeli security consultants and their GOP friends who will be wagging their fingers saying “I told you so.” If you’d only adopted Israel’s approach to security, you’d avoid these incidents. Here is Gabriel Sherman, the national editor of New York Magazine:
At what point do we say we need to become like Israel and post armed guards and metal detectors at almost every public building?
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) June 12, 2016
What they won’t tell you is the price that must be paid for adopting Israel’s model of racial profiling and its sacrifice of human and civil rights. If you embrace the Israeli security model you’re not just adopting a few tactics like armed guards and metal detectors, you must adopt the entire world-view. You must turn your country into fortress America. You must militarize security and policing. You must suspect the alien, the foreigner. Especially those from Arab lands. In short, you must become Donald Trump or something very much like him.
Thankfully, America isn’t prepared to go that far. It isn’t prepared to sacrifice its founding document, the Constitution.
Mateen worked as a private security guard for a Florida-based subsidiary of G4S, the international security consultancy which recently ended all its Israel contracts under pressure from the BDS movement. At least in part because of this work, he had several firearms licenses which permitted him to purchase the weapons he used in the rampage. Given that the FBI interviewed him three times in recent years, I don’t understand why a red flag wasn’t raised concerning someone with his views having access to firearms.
Islam doesn’t have a monopoly on homophobia or hate crimes related to it. A single Haredi Jew obsessed with homosexuality stabbed a man during the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade a few years ago. After he was freed from prison he went back to the same Pride parade, without any police monitoring him, and this time killed a young girl marching in solidarity with the city’s gay community. He did these things because the Torah harbors deeply hostile views toward homosexuality. But I would never make the mistake of saying that all of Judaism or a majority or even a significant minority of Jews today share those views. Just as I would not say that mainstream Islam supports mass murder for the “crime” of homosexuality.
Returning to Israel, a few years ago an unknown assailant attacked a Tel Aviv gay community center and murdered two young people there. That crime was never solved. No one has been apprehended or punished for it due to the incompetence or contempt of the police for Israel’s LGBT community.
So before everyone clamors to become more like Israel, they might want to step back on consider what that really means.
I don’t know how many of these mass murder episodes it will take before America finally wakes up to the absolute necessity for gun control. How long before the NRA and its political lobbying will be drowned out by the cries of the dead and wounded. But one thing I can tell you is that the Democrats are not the answer on this subject. They are as complicit in the shame of not passing gun laws as the Republicans. After all, the shining light of the political revolution, Bernie Sanders, sided with his state’s hunters in voting to protect all gun makers from liability for their products. If Bernie isn’t going after the killers, then who among Democrats will? And if anyone supporting Hillary thinks she’ll be any better, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. She is even more beholden to these corporate interests than Bernie.
The mark of a country’s health is its ability to conduct its affairs sensibly and reasonably despite the vagaries of human prejudice and close-mindedness. Israel is a perfect example of a country beset by pathologies which prevent it from being such a healthy society. No matter what it does or how hard some Israelis try, the majority are imprisoned by ancient hatreds and fear which prevents them from ever leading normal lives.
Though I believe the U.S. functions better as a society overall, guns are one indication of a serious sickness that afflicts us. Racism and slavery too are other elements that taint us. But we’ve been more successful at addressing and ameliorating their impact. How long will it be before we can slay this ravening beast of gun violence?