I’m just getting over a week long bout of depression, and someone gives me cause to be sad today. Thanks guy.
1993 was a bad year for abortion violence, including a couple of shootings and the firebombing of the Blue Mountain Clinic in Montana. Around that time, I started pondering a horrific scenario in which someone might start a campaign of firebombing abortion clinics, not because he was against abortion, but because he just wanted to watch the world burn, only choosing political targets to garner support from extremist activist fronts and throw off the FBI behavioral analysis guys.
Along the same line, it’s curious that the massacre at The Pulse is being pushed by the media more as an act of terrorism than as a hate crime. Apparently Mr. Mateen called 9-1-1 to Allahu Akbar! at them and dedicate the shooting to the Islamic State. But according to Mateen’s father, Omar wasn’t particularly religious but he sure hated gays. To be fair, it’s way too early to make educated guesses. My sense of this is that he picked up planning and organization from Islamic State periodicals and may have even enjoyed the notion of being part of a bigger revolution. It certainly sounds better than going to shoot up a bunch of fags because they’re ruining America. But wow, we see a brown man and it becomes so easy to mistake a clock for a timebomb.
Regarding the rampage shooting at the Pulse, it’s been a while since I said what I said about Paris. We should do nothing. Grieve our dead. Focus the news on the victims. Don’t argue about whether it was a terror attack from the Islamic State, or just a crazy homophobe popping off during pride month, or even too many Twinkies or too much Doom. Recognize that homicides are actually down. (More accurately homicide rates were up throughout the late 20th century.) Real terror is rare. Rampage killers happen much like serial killers, and while they make scary news and scarier movies, acting on that fear is giving them what they want. Neither the Islamic State nor their rampaging pawns deserve credit for such violence.
We want to act on the anger. We should act on the sadness.
Comfort those who have lost someone. Reassure those insecure about their nation. There’s actually a lot to be insecure about on the Federal level. But we are a nation of communities and friends. Remind yours that you have their back.
If you want to go the extra mile, reflect on those other parts of society you distrust — atheists, fundamentalists, blacks, whites, Muslims, Christians, feminists, Republicans — and see if you can let that go. Sure, they have some assholes among them, but so do we. So does every corner and subset of humanity. And few people are accurately reflected by the stereotypes and caricatures we imagine them to be. If you’ve trespassed against others and been forgiven, try paying that forward. Give others the benefit of doubt.
I betcha this is the way we will win the war on terror.
Update 2015-06-20: It turns out Mateen had about as much association with known political terror groups as did Hans Gruber, which is to say none at all. And right now, the Department of Justice is doing a lot of backpedaling and ass-covering because they bought it. That was the version some officials wanted to believe, not that an angry American popped off and shot up his favorite scapegoat.
Rats and mice will rapidly overpopulate to consume a food source available, and when that supply is exhausted, they will turn on each other. I suspect that the same thing is happening here: with scarcity our instinctive response is to war on each other and cull the minorities and oddballs.