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Commentary on Another Slaughter

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I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of media stuff this year; indeed, I’ve been on air at least once per week for the past nine weeks alone. The topics, in rough order of frequency, have been 1. Trump, 2. US primaries in general, 3. Brexit, and 4. English local elections.

And of course, whenever there’s a notable gun massacre back in the old country, I’m invariably somewhere trying to explain the lunacy to a British audience.  Since Sandy Hook, my appearances on this topic have grown increasingly frustrated and angry — in short, not my best interviews. This one is no different. I largely ignored Orlando on Sunday, tried to come to grips with it on Monday, and I was interviewed during my first cup of coffee Tuesday morning just past 0700 British Summer Time.  Between Monday and the interview Tuesday morning, I came to several tentative conclusions.  First, that the ISIS connection was likely opportunistic on the part of the shooter. Yes, the FBI investigated him twice, and twice they lacked the evidence to charge him. Based on what has been reported, one would have to be truly paranoid, or perhaps Donald Trump, to make the leap that this guy was going to do this thing given the information that the FBI had at hand.  But what we also seem to have at hand are reports that suggest or imply that the shooter was on some level in the closet.

Hence my argument in the interview that this was more likely an explicit hate crime attack on the LGBT community than it was an act of jihadi terrorism. This isn’t an original idea, obviously; Guardian journalist Owen Jones famously stormed off the Sky News set in trying to make this point.

Anyway, here is the interview (it begins about 36 minutes in, and isn’t long); it’s not my best work. I did some prep and had some numbers (*) — the number of gun deaths per year in the US (> 32,000), broken down between suicide and homicide (around 11,000); a league table of the rate of firearm homicides per million people (spoiler alert: amongst first world democracies, we’re number one!!! and it’s not even close.  The US has 29.7 firearm homicides per one million people; the next three are Switzerland (7.7), Canada (5.1), Germany (1.9). The US is home to 4.4% of the global population, but 42% of the world’s civilian-owned firearms. As is often the case, what I prepped didn’t make it into the interview, but what I wasn’t ready for did.

I obviously wasn’t prepared to discuss constitutional law.  I got the concepts right, of course, but erroneously gave the date of DC v Heller as 2010, when of course it was 2008. The incorporation case (McDonald v Chicago) was 2010. I also didn’t realise just how jarring an interview sounds like over my mobile as opposed to live in the studio. The studio is by miles my preferred medium, and this is just another reason why.

(*) apologies for the lack of sources or links; I’m just going off of the notes I made while prepping for the interview.

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  • First, that the ISIS connection was likely opportunistic on the part of the shooter.

    Not just the shooter, but everyone who gains from further stoking the fear of the so-called Islamic radical in the minds of the American people, from the national security state to the news. As soon as it was discovered that he had linked himself to ISIS, it was ISIS, ISIS, ISIS 27/7.

    And, oh by the way, he might have been gay, but ISIS, ISIS, ISIS!

    • Grumpy

      Things can have multiple causes. that a closeted man expressed his self-hatred in a mass murder does not mean that his religious beliefs were irrelevant to his decision. Calling his invocation of Isis “opportunistic” reeks of denial.

      • Matt McIrvin

        To a large extent, ISIS’s global strategy is to get individuals wishing to commit mass murder to do this. So do you emphasize the ISIS connection or not? Well, on the one hand this kind of branding through “ISIS-inspired” murders is how they actually operate, but on the other hand, pinning the responsibility on them as if they actually organized these attacks, to make them look bigger and scarier, is exactly what they want.

        • Grumpy

          Agreed, but if we’re attempting to accurately describe reality rather than fight a propaganda war with Daesh on this blog, then it’s pretty clear what the answer is. We all agreed Dylann Roof was an heir to the idea of the South rising again, even if he doesn’t bear Robert E. Lee’s personal commission.

        • yet_another_lawyer

          If ISIS wanted everybody to know the sky was blue, should we pretend it’s purple? This guy committed a mass murder on American soil, inspired by ISIS, which is exactly what ISIS wants. Pretending he didn’t isn’t fooling anybody, including their next round of recruits.

        • vic rattlehead

          Yeah ISIS is taking a page out of the Trump playbook in terms of branding. Kind of amusing to think of the parallels

      • alex284

        Denial of what? Of coordination with and training from ISIS that no one can show happened?

        The only denial I’m seeing here, from lots of corners, is of homophobia. The governor of Florida, Trump, and quite a few other people can’t even be brought to say that this was a gay club. In their view, this dude wanted to attack Americans, generally, because pointing out that gay people are a minority that is specifically targeted for violence doesn’t gel with their long-running narrative that gay people control everything and are really the ones oppressing straight people with political correctness or whatever.

        But, whatever, let’s just throw up our hands and blame “religious beliefs” and pretend like those beliefs are unique to Islam, and, why not, that they’re unique to religion because the only place one sees homophobia in the US is in a church or a mosque.

        • N__B

          gay people are a minority that is specifically targeted for violence

          More so than any other group.

          (That’s meant to supplement your point, Alex, not correct it.)

        • ThrottleJockey

          Trump has actually made quite a big deal about the fact that this was an attack on gay Americans. In fact he uses that against the Dems, saying: “The Dems say they support gay rights but they go and let Radical Islamist Terrorists (TM) go and shoot over 100 gay people.”

      • Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint) what was going on in the guy’s head died with him. As for the ISIS connection, I think it much more likely that he came to their ideology as a justification for attacking the gay community, instead of coming to terms with what may have been serious feelings of self-loathing that were fueled by his religious beliefs. Again, he’s dead, so it’s all conjecture.

        That being said, I think the ISIS link is specious because I doubt that he was actively recruited by ISIS for this attack. ISIS may be a dangerous ideology, but so is Christian fundamentalism. Yet, when Robert Dear decided to shoot 11 people (2 dead) at a Planned Parenthood to save those baby parts, the news didn’t run 24/7 news stories on this Christian beliefs. They focused on the fact that he was/is mentally unstable and driven by hatred.

        What Omar Mateen conducted was a hate crime against the gay community. His hatred may have been fueled by ISIS ideology, but it was driven by his own hatred, and abetted by the ease with which he was able to legally acquire weapons designed to maximize the body count. That is the real issue here. He would have killed a lot less people (or maybe not have done it at all) if all he had access to was a hunting rifle or a handgun.

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          He was by most accounts not particularly observant (to the point where he was “aligning” himself with ISIS, a Sunni extremist group, and Hezbullah, which is extremist Shiite. He seems like a man with violent tendencies pulled in two irreconcilable directions by his identity as a Muslim and some apparently strong homosexual feelings. So something was bound to snap in him.

      • rea

        that a closeted man expressed his self-hatred in a mass murder does not mean that his religious beliefs were irrelevant to his decision. Calling his invocation of Isis “opportunistic” reeks of denial.

        You are making the same error Trump does–equating ISIS and Islam.

        • Grumpy

          Show me where I’m doing that.

          • jam

            rea did that by quoting you. ISIS and Islam are different things, yet you breezily hop from one to the other as if there is a direct link.

      • pianomover

        He also called his allegiance to Hezbollah sworn enemy of ISIL.

      • jam

        Things can have multiple causes. that a closeted man expressed his self-hatred in a mass murder does not mean that his religious beliefs were irrelevant to his decision. Calling his invocation of Isis “opportunistic” reeks of denial.

        You’re changing the subject, whether intentionally or not.

        His religious background (Muslim) and cultural (American) are consistent with anti-LGBT sentiment. I’m not aware of people on the left denying that in any way.

        But ISIS is a specific thing, they are a specific group of people.

        And there is no evidence that ISIS was involved in planning, ordering, or financing this attack. The link, such as it is, is that he name-checked ISIS in a phone call and they put his name on a website. That’s opportunistic and tenuous at best.

    • yet_another_lawyer

      “So-called?”

      He told the police, two different news station, the entirety of Facebook, and the victims that he was doing it for ISIS. He knew why he did the shooting, so I’m inclined to take his word for it. If he said he was motivated by Pat Robertson, would anybody really be twisting themselves in knots to say that wasn’t “really” his motive?

      It’s easy to mock people who suggest counterproductive or silly responses to the threat at hand, but there is legitimately a radical Islamic minority that wants to exterminate everybody else– who, thankfully, are too small in numbers and too primitive in technology to have a realistic chance in carrying out that goal. There’s no reason to deny that fact, notwithstanding that a lot of the proposed responses are counterproductive or silly.

      • alex284

        If he said he was motivated by Pat Robertson, would anybody really be twisting themselves in knots to say that wasn’t “really” his motive?

        Noooooo, just most of the US population would be doing this.

        Ever notice how when a white racist shoots a black person, half the internet starts looking for dirt on the victim to make it their fault? You see, people with power don’t like to take the blame for anything, and since they have power they generally succeed in blaming others. And Christianity is a powerful religion in the US.

        there is legitimately a radical Islamic minority that wants to exterminate everybody else

        Yup, that’s why he shot up a gay club! To get “everybody else”!

        I’m guessing you’re not noticing how people are twisting themselves into knots to pretend like homophobia had nothing to do with this, because you seem to be doing it yourself. But it’s really annoying and Brockington is right to point it out.

        Mateen lived for 29 years in a country with a homophobic culture. He also was taught homophobia from his religious practice. I would put more blame on the former just because it’s a lot more powerful and ubiquitous, but even if I’m wrong I don’t see why it shouldn’t count for anything at all.

        • yet_another_lawyer

          I’m guessing you’re not noticing how people are twisting themselves into knots to pretend like homophobia had nothing to do with this, because you seem to be doing it yourself.

          I am not. I am merely saying that he was motivated partially, and probably primarily, by allegiance to ISIS. The shooter is the definitive authority on why he did the shooting. He had no reason to lie. There is, at minimum, a rebuttable presumption that this was an attack inspired by ISIS. Pretending that ISIS played no role is just denialism of a different sort.

          • Bruce B.

            I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that by the time the authorities are done going over his phone history, mail, and all the rest, there will be no history of contact with ISIS. If I’m wrong, I will gladly apologize; what I really want is for someone arguing the opposite to make the same simple commitment.

            • ThrottleJockey

              No one’s ever suggested that he had direct contact with ISIS. Quite the contrary, people are saying he was inspired by ISIS. ISIS doesn’t even want direct contact with them because the NSA and intel community can sniff that out. They want more lone wolves who can’t be detected because they act alone. That’s the whole point.

              • Snarki, child of Loki

                Okay, everyone. If you’re going to do some particularly horrible crime, make sure to mention that you were “inspired by Throttlejockey”.

                I know that’s what I’m going to do, next time I cut someone off in traffic.

                Thanks, Throttlejockey!

                • ThrottleJockey

                  What is that strange chopper outside my window? Is that a drone? OMG is that a drone with missiles?

                  Damn that NSA!

                • yet_another_lawyer

                  If it was something ThrottleJockey was actually saking people to do, it would be valid.

                  ISIS has asked radical Muslims to murder Americans.
                  A radical Muslim, in the name of ISIS, murdered a bunch of Americans.
                  Hence, this was an ISIS attack.

                  Any “ThrottleJockey” attack would lack the key element– that the attacker was doing what ThrottleJockey explicitly asked them to do it.

          • Docrailgun

            As has been mentioned several times up-thread, the guy also claimed allegiance to Hezbollah, which is an enemy of ISIL. So, he was confused. It would be like shooting up a place and claiming allegiance to Aslan or Gandalf.

          • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

            He had no reason to lie.

            No? If he was, as some suggest, a self-loathing gay man, then blaming the shooting on ISIL could be simply his ultimate act of denial. Or perhaps he simply wasn’t clear in his own mind about his motivations. Most of us aren’t, much of the time.

          • Hogan

            He had no reason to lie.

            Except maybe to himself.

          • UserGoogol

            He had plenty of reason to lie. The point of mass killings is to leave an impact. So if you’re going to kill a bunch of people, you should want to attach yourself to as many bogeymen as possible.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Its like both Obama and the FBI said, its both a hate crime and an jihadi terrorist attack. That’s the way the papers have described it as well. Saying the US isn’t acknowledging the dual nature of the crime by pointing out that Republicans–other than Trump–don’t acknowledge the dual nature of the crime undermines your own point. “Republicans” =/= “America”.

          Its interesting that you oppose the dual labeling. Most of the left–and especially blacks–wanted to label the Roof shootings as domestic terror events both because he targeted blacks and because he targeted a church. We wanted to do that because terrorist attacks are, in the current zeitgeist, worse than than hate crimes, and any so-called hate crime really seeks to terrorize its intended target.

      • Donalbain

        But he also said he was doing it for Al Queda and Hamas. He doesn’t know much about the subject at all.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Do you have to be a political scientist to be a terrorist? Is that who ISIS is targeting for recruitment with its propaganda?

          Many terrorists were known to do drugs, drink alcohol, and chase women before their attacks, does that make them any less terrorists?

          For instance, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, was a nonpracticing Muslim who became an Islamist militant once his dreams of becoming an Olympic boxer faded. At the time of the attack, he was unemployed. For him, bombing the marathon seemed to allow him to become the heroic figure that he believed himself to be.

          On the other hand, his younger brother, Dzhokhar, never seemed to embrace militant Islam. He smoked marijuana, drank and chased girls — hardly the actions of a Muslim fundamentalist. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s motivations for the bombings were instead largely molded by his older brother, whom he admired and feared, and by his own half-baked opposition to American foreign policy.

    • Rob in CT

      As others have said, I see no reason he can’t be accurately described as both a closeted/frustrated gay man *and* an Islamist radical.

      It does seem that his “association” with ISIS was basically that of a fanboy. “Inspired by” rather than trained by or whatever. And that’s a fine point to make, but it only goes so far.

      Homophobia is obviously the issue here. But then where does that homophobia often come from, and almost certainly came from in this instance? Religion. His particular religion was Islam, but conservative/reactionary sects of Christianity and Judaism have similar views on homosexuality (or indeed anything outside the box on gender/sex).

      • alex284

        Sure, and one identity can inform the other.

        But the point in bringing up ISIS first (not you, but others) is to pretend like either his homophobia came solely from ISIS (rare) or to pretend like he was just attacking Americans, generally, and cultural homophobia in the US doesn’t have to be addressed at all in this conversation (more common).

        The ultimate point people who say “he 100% did this because of ISIS” is to say “0% of beliefs that I share with Mateen are responsible for this.” Which is just so obviously not true.

      • bw

        Which is not particularly far at all, considering that his understanding of ISIS’s ideology didn’t even include their hatred of Hezbollah and everything it stands for.

        If I detonate a bomb somewhere on the US west coast, and call 911 right beforehand, ranting about how I’m doing it to avenge the legacy of Emperor Hirohito and uphold the glory of the Chinese Communist Party, does everyone immediately start nodding their heads very seriously about how this is just another example of the dangerous, radical East Asian minority in our midst?

        • ThrottleJockey

          Is there a dangerous, radical East Asian group in our midst???

          Based on your reasoning Syed Farook and his wife killed 14 people and shot 22 more in San Bernadino because he didn’t like Christmas Parties. #TheRealGrinch.

          • bw

            Nope, there’s ample evidence that Farook and especially his wife actively participated in a community of radicals online, and that his wife was probably radicalized well before she ever arrived in the US. There is no evidence as yet that any of this applies to Mateen at all.

            You don’t get to be considered an affiliate of ISIS merely on the qualification of jumping out from behind a dumpster, punching the nearest passerby in the face, and yelling “ISIS!!!” while you do it. That’s pretty much what Mateen did, except with semiautomatic weapons instead of his fists.

            • He was, in fact, pretty much an All-American boy, definitely including the tendency of such boys (and of course many others) to assert various affiliations in various ways (T-shirt wearing choices, body-modification choices, slogan-chanting choices, mob-joining choices, people-killing choices…): a fashion victim.

            • rea

              John Hinckley Jr. shot Reagan to impress Jodi Foster, but that does not mean that Jodi Foster was in any way involved in the Reagan shooting. This guy never had any real contact with ISIS other than reading about them on the internet.

              • ThrottleJockey

                Ever hear of the Brothers Tsarnaev? You don’t have to have a lengthy resume to be a terrorist. You don’t even have to be all that devout.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  what do you mean by “terrorist”? is that someone who may identify with a larger group but acts more or less on their own or is it someone who is part of a group which communicates and co-ordinates?

                • “Welcome to Non-Sequitur City; my name is ThrottleJockey and I’ll be your tour-guide!”

                  There is (or should be) no question that the Tsarnaevs, and similarly Mateen, were terrorists. There similarly is—and should be!—no question that no international organization (whether as concrete as ISIS or Al Qaeda, or as nebulous as “radical Islamic terrorism”) was in any way involved in the Boston bombing; and I am fairly confident that no credible evidence will be found that any such organization was involved in Matteen’s attack.

                • bw

                  Tamerlan Tsarnaev was radical enough, by 2009, to a) make his girlfriend convert to Islam and wear a headscarf while publicly screaming at her about her immodest behavior, b) make his uncle seriously concerned that he was an extremist. Again, no evidence so far that any of this applies to Mateen.

                  Christ, you’re thick.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  You don’t have to coordinate with anyone else at all to be a terrorist.

                  My point was really directed as a response to bw, sorry for any confusion. To be clear you don’t have to coordinate with another group, nor do you have to have some lengthy resume, as bw seems to imply, in order to be a terrorist. All you have to do is to accept an ideology as your own and commit an act of terror.

                  and, by the way, bw, making your wife wear a headscarf may be seriously chauvinistic, but its hardly ‘terroristic’. And that pot smoking, liquor drinking, girl chasing Dhozkar Tsarnaev wasn’t even religious, much less devout.

              • yet_another_lawyer

                If Jodi Foster asked him to shoot Reagan, then she would have been responsible when he did.

                ISIS has asked for radical Muslims to commit mass murder of Americans.
                A radical Muslim committed mass murder in the name of ISIS.
                Therefore, it’s an ISIS attack.

                Both the attacker himself and ISIS itself say it was an ISIS attack. The denialism is truly bizarre. Even if you want to argue that this guy doesn’t get to declare himself a member of ISIS just because he did exactly the sort of attack ISIS wanted, I am pretty sure that ISIS gets to decide if people who want to join ISIS are members of ISIS or not. If they don’t, then who the hell does?

              • Patick Spens

                If Jodi Foster had published a newsletter where she had asked people to murder Ronald Reagan she sure as hell would have been involved in the shooting.

      • cs

        It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing – was he claiming to be into ISIS because he wanted to kill people, or did he want to kill people (partially) because he was inspired by ISIS? Or another way to say it is do you think this guy would have done the same thing, all else being equal, if not for ISIS?

        Anyway I sure we’ll never really know the answers, and maybe the answers don’t matter much except in terms of political propaganda for/against the anti-Muslim crowd.

        • bw

          Yes, he would have done the same damn thing were it not for ISIS. His political outlook wasn’t even quarter-baked. The most anyone ever heard him talk about ISIS was when he tossed it out there simply to threaten co-workers he didn’t like.

          If his name is Cameron van Bieber instead of Omar Mateen, everyone is instead talking about the unstable homophobic lunatic who only brought ISIS into it because he hated everyone and wanted to say the thing that he figured would sound maximally scary to the rest of America. Mission accomplished!

          • ThrottleJockey

            If Cameron van Bieber grew up a famous, wealthy white man then he wouldn’t have been a discriminated against and bullied boy raised by a homophobic father.

            • bw

              A quarter of America was raised by a homophobic father and another quarter was bullied as a child. And yet, when someone in either of those quarters snaps and goes on a rampage, we somehow (provided they don’t have a Muslim name) manage not to start clucking about their obvious ties to America’s enemy du jour based solely on the crazy things that came out of their mouth on the day of the attack.

              IOW, thanks for making my point for me!

              • ThrottleJockey

                I didn’t make your point, I was pointing out what a myopic point it was. Its true that if you exclude the factors that led him to becoming radicalized–bullying, homophobia, dismay at America’s national security policy–he wouldn’t become a terrorist.

                But all you’ve said at that point is that if you exclude the alcohol, vodka is just water.

                IOW your Cameron von Bieber metaphor makes no sense because there’s a whole set of experiences that goes along with Mateen that don’t go along with Cameron von Bieber.

                • bw

                  No. You repeatedly have been demolishing strawmen around my point.

                  My point is not that every terrorist must meet some high ideological bar to be a terrorist. My point is that Mateen did not even meet any reasonably low ideological bar sufficient to call him an “ISIS terrorist” or “radicalized.” He’s a homophobe who committed a massacre and then yelled about ISIS and some other jumbled nonsense into his phone in the waning hours of that massacre. The authorities have presented virtually no other evidence of any ISIS connection, coordination, or “inspiration” beyond some mouthing off he did two years ago to scare some co-workers he hated.

                  If Jodie Foster hadn’t existed, Hinckley would have made up some other deranged justification for shooting Reagan. The same goes for ISIS and Mateen, your handwaving about bullying, child abuse, and other terrorists notwithstanding.

        • so-in-so

          It appears he could have claimed his inspiration from (some of) the Baptists;

          http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-pastor-praises-orlando-killings-video-sermon-20160614-snap-story.html

          • Patick Spens

            If Mateen had said, “This is for Pastor Jimenez” rather than, “This if for ISIS,” would folks in this thread still require proof of logistical assistance before they admitted there was a connection?

            • bw

              Not really the best analogy. Pastor Jimenez is some guy nobody else has ever heard of (at least, until this week), so if some maniac claims him as the inspiration for a terrorist attack, it’s at least reasonable to assume that said maniac has done more than an average amount of thinking about Jimenezian beliefs.

              Not so with ISIS, since the six o’clock news is churning out stories every day about the US being at war with Eurasia ISIS. Someone whose goal is to terrorize people gets no additional terrorizing out of yelling “Jimenez!”, but can achieve more terror simply by yelling “ISIS!”.

      • LNM_in_LA

        Floor wax? Or dessert topping?

        I’m pretty sure this p*tz wasn’t sufficiently self-aware to have known the difference. At least based on the current ‘reliable reporting’ on his personal history.

        We can speculate all we want, but barring, well, I was going to say ‘any smoking guns’ but that’s not a fortunate turn of phrase, is it ? So, barring any actual hard evidence we’ll never know exactly what caused the actual act, but we do know what enabled the number of casualties.

        It was an ideology of a very different sort, supporting the ‘Gawd given right’ to lay our hands on very very lethal stuff at a moment’s notice, that enabled the idiot to get that body count.

    • ISIS, ISIS, ISIS 27/7.

      This one goes to 27. But it should only go to 24.

      • It’s a 27/7 news cycle these days ;-)

    • nixnutz

      I think that fundamentally the mass shooting phenomenon is a kind of a meme, it’s the suicide in an apocalyptic blaze of destruction that’s the common thread and the individual shooters sometimes have specific targets, black, gay, immigrant, abortion providers, women, etc., and sometimes don’t and shoot kids because they’re easy targets. It’s difficult to say to what degree any of these shooters were motivated by their hatred of their chosen targets or whether they might have shot up a random mall in any case.

      Now it seems ISIS is an element in some of these fantasies. It’s difficult to determine where this lies on the Columbine-Oklahoma City scale, but to me this seems more spree killing suicide where San Bernadino seemed more like a terrorist attack using mass shooter tactics. So was this ISIS-inspired? or ISIS-justified? does it matter? ISIS is a big problem, as is this mass shooting craze, they both need to be solved separately and their overlap is a tiny part of either problem. Maybe this guy would have lived a peaceful life if he’d never heard of ISIS, I doubt it but I do know someone else is going to do the same thing next week or next month and he may have even stupider “reasons”. And meanwhile ISIS will be massacring innocent people all over the world, let’s not waste too much time on this particular asshole.

      • Matt McIrvin

        Mostly, the people seemingly trying to downplay the ISIS connection are really just trying to keep this from turning into a witchhunt against Muslims in the name of gays… or a casus belli for more George W. Bush-level adventures. That’s what it’s about.

        • Patick Spens

          But that’s dumb. He was obviously inspired by ISIS, and we all know it. Pretending that it isn’t so because you don’t like the implications is dishonest hackery. Mateen being inspired by ISIS doesn’t make invading Syria or Banning all Muslims any smarter.

          • He was obviously inspired by ISIS, and we all know it.

            I don’t know it.

            As I said before, his “pledge of allegiance” to Isis was essentially a fashion statement—the t-shirt of one particular band, put on nearly randomly (from among a plenitude of choices available here in the Land of Opportunity!) by a kid who wanted (on plenty of testimony by acquaintances, his first wife, and his co-workers: as someone, maybe Chas. Pierce, pointed out, this time no one said “what a surprise, he was such a quiet, polite man”; the consensus was that he was a guy looking for a bloody fight) to break some heads and kick some ass, and maybe die.

            • nixnutz

              That’s where I’m at too but what if we did find out that ISIS was more inspiration than pretext in this particular case? Then that argument against Islamophobia dissolves? It definitely appropriate to push back against the people who would use this as pretext for their own bigotry but I think it’s a mistake to put too much weight on minimizing the ISIS influence when we don’t know this guy’s mind at all.

              • Patick Spens

                I’d disagree that we, “don’t know his mind at all.” But this is the point that I am trying to make. If you are pushing back against “Mateen was inspired by ISIS” because you

                are trying to keep this from turning into a witchhunt against Muslims in the name of gays… or a casus belli for more George W. Bush-level adventures.

                Then you are implicitly agreeing that a Mateen/ISIS connection could help justify said terrible ideas. When in reality the massacre in Orlando does nothing to change how bad those ideas are, even given that Mateen was inspired by ISIS.

  • yet_another_lawyer

    Edited out because I put this in the wrong place.

  • vic rattlehead

    this was more likely an explicit hate crime attack on the LGBT community than it was an act of jihadi terrorism.

    I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. ISIS’s brand of Islam is virulently homophobic.

    • ThrottleJockey

      I wonder what to make out of the reports that he frequented gay clubs and pick up apps. Was he some sort of self-loathing, closeted gay man? Or, just casing and surveilling victims?

  • nostack

    Assuming for the sake of argument that hating LGBTQ people is based on Abrahamic religious authority, why the hell are people always targeting gays, instead of, say, the Oscar Meyer Bacon Factory? Because YHWH does not dig on swine, either.

    There are approximately eleventy-jillion “God disapproves of ___________” in the Bible, and I don’t see the Westboro Baptists freaking out about heliocentrism, or the fact that the ancient Hebrews thought pi was equal to 3 and therefore post-classical geometry is contrary to the Bible. No: it’s always gay men. I don’t get it.

    • TribalistMeathead

      Because anti-gay parishes have far fewer gay parishioners than they have parishioners who are lustful, gluttonous, proud, etc. No sense in telling them they need to change their ways, lest they stop coming.

    • The theology doesn’t inform the bigotry, the bigotry informs the theology. See also, biblical justifications for slavery.

  • j_doc

    Googling around the Owens Jones interview, the host in an embarrassing follow-up column brings up Charlie Hebdo and, in a twisted way, makes an interesting point.

    There doesn’t seem to be much of the “Je Suis Charlie”, “we are all New Yorkers”, etc. sentiment now. Not exactly seeing “We are all gay tonight” plastered on headlines. I wonder why that is.

    • Rob in CT

      For what it’s worth, the megacorporation I work for has (at least internally) been going with that kind of message.

    • ThrottleJockey

      Because we’re not French?

      You didn’t see this after San Bernadino (“We’re all Californians!”). Or after the Boston Marathon (“We’re all Bostonians!”). Or after Ft. Hood (“We’re all Army soldiers!”).

      • You did see some of that in Boston: “Boston Strong”

        • Just_Dropping_By

          There was some logic to it in Boston though because the attack targeted a nationally known Boston institution — the Boston Marathon. TJ’s point about the lack of “solidarity” post-San Bernadino, post-Ft. Hood, etc., stands.

      • j_doc

        Je Suis Charlie was not a French-only phenomenon.

        I see your point about the other attacks, but isn’t something different about some of these? Is it possible to distinguish between random targets and specific ideological targets? The former is meant for you to think “that could have been me”, while the latter offers the temptation to say “I’m glad I’m not them”.

        Charlie Hebdo was clearly targeted for ideological reasons. New York/WTC seems to fit that too. I’d put the Orlando shooting there as well. Charleston and Colorado Springs, too. Others, equally horrific, have a much more random feel to them. Ft. Hood and San Bernadino were basically workplace shootings, and Boston seemed nonspecific terror.

        I guess the thought I’m expressing poorly is that some of these attacks sow random terror, but others try to shape our behavior through specific targets. If we don’t satirize Allah, if we shun gay people, if we shut down abortion clinics, then we’ll be safe. There is something more pernicious about that sort of attack, and the salve is solidarity.

  • Docrailgun

    We’re #1! We’re #1!
    USA! USA!

  • Yankee

    Are you going to talk about the shooting of the MP in Yorks? (… did I say that right?) Possibly the home folks there aren’t as different from the home folks here as they would like to think.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Look at the discussion in the Brexit thread.

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