Wow, what disturbing news I woke to Sunday morning. We’ve been there in the past, and we’ve been to the Plaza Live where Christina Grimmie was killed, as the Orlando Gay Men’s Chorus performs there. So far, we’re not aware of any friends or acquaintances who were involved, but it is a tight enough community, I’m sure we at least have friends of friends who are.
This will all be kind of a random collection of my thoughts on this, so be understanding if I’m more incoherent than usual.
First, let’s clear up something about the role the shooter’s religion played, and whether this was an Isl?mic terrorist act, or as one “friend” on Facebook called it, Jihad. According to FBI Director, James Comey, the shooter came to their attention a few years ago when some folks at the Court House where he was working security, contacted the FBI after he made claims about being part of Al-Qaeda. They determined he was just making the claims in anger, and as something a threat. Kind of like kids who claim to be in a gang, when they aren’t.
Of course, we all know now about his call to 911 claiming loyalty to the leader of ISIL, and mentioning the Boston Bombers. The Boston Bombers claimed to affiliated with Al-Qaeda. So, why does this matter? Well ISIL and Al-Qaeda are mortal enemies. He basically pledged allegiance to two diametrically opposed groups, Shi’a Hezbollah and Sunni ISIS. I think this shows the guy was either stupid, or too consumed by his rage to consider what he was saying, he just wanted to seem like a big guy on a big mission. I believe this takes all wind out of the sales of those trying to make this some sort of international terrorist event. It was not.
It also seems he wasn’t overly religious, and I suspect his confusion about which terrorist group he “belonged” to is an indication that he wasn’t a truly radicalized Muslim. There is some evidence that he’d watched some on-line videos and read some website posted by radical Islamists. But in and of itself, I don’t find that too explosive. I suspect it helped him get pumped, and helped push him to the point he reached.
His former wife reports escalating domestic violence, so we could probably plot his desire to engage in violence on an upward scale. A recent fellow-employee had reported him to the employer several times for strange and uncomfortable behavior, up to, and including stalking this employee, who finally quit his job.
It now appears he may have been a closeted gay person, raised in a household where his father was clearly homophobic. Unfortunately, people my age and older (who came of age when coming out was even more difficult, have seen this pattern play out before. It is predictable. I’ve read the guy was a body-builder and was obviously a cop-wannabe, both hyper-masculine pursuits. He married, as was expected of him culturally, religiously, and based on what we know of his family’s expectations. Then that “trapped” feeling began to set in, and as his wife reported, escalating domestic violence was the result. Then his comments about the open displays of affection by other gay men, which threatens his closet. These stories play out all the time. Somewhat less today, but for those trapped in homophobic households and exposed to religious bigotry, it’s not uncommon. It usually results in a lot of bad personal behavior, drugs, alcohol, and maybe some gay bashing. This is almost like a text-book case.
When you combine this with the ease with which he was able to acquire a high-capacity, rapid-firing weapon, and its little wonder that the Pulse shooting was the result.
He’s not just another Muslim terrorist. He doesn’t even know who’s side he’s on. There’s likely nothing “international” about this. It’s not Jihad, he wasn’t even that devout, and experts on these types of things think he wasn’t necessarily suicidal. So let’s just drop that mess. He was a bigot (maybe the result of his own repressed homosexuality) with a mental defect, violent tendencies, and a big gun.
As to the reactions, I’d just like to cite a few.
I saw Rick Scott’s press conference in Orlando Sunday afternoon, and it was just excruciatingly painful to watch. This guy doesn’t even know how to pretend to have any empathy. He could never even let the LGBT acronym slip past his lips, and he kept making it about himself…constantly bringing up how “he” would feel if it were his daughters or grandchildren. I suppose that was his attempt to show empathy. It was bad, and he would have been better of not going.
Donald Trump couldn’t muster anything more than a self-congratulatory tweet talking about how he wanted to show “strength.” What bullshit…he didn’t predict this, because while it meets the official definition of “terrorism,” it wasn’t the radical Isl?mic international terrorism he was talking about.
On line, I saw someone complaining the shooting was being politicized (well, of course it will be), and being made all about gun control. Well, yes, and I’m OK with that. As I wrote to her, had a guy with violent tendencies not been able to get his hands on a high-capacity, high-powered, rapid-firing weapon, this would not have to be about anybody or anything, because it wouldn’t have happened, and that’s a situation I’d prefer.
All the Republicans are calling for “prayer.” Saying that’s what we can all do to help. As a number of people have pointed out, we’ve prayed after every one of these mass shootings. God hasn’t stopped them. Maybe he expects us to. We can keep sitting on our hands, and allowing a few ammosexuals and the NRA (a front-group for the gun manufacturers) control the gun debate and the legislation controlling guns, or we can stand up and demand more from our congress people and legislators, or vote them out if they refuse to listen. It is our choice.
For those of use who are “religious,” we can continue to support religions that support bigotry, or we can demand they change, or find our spiritual fulfillment in other religions. We can call out ever act of bigotry and conditional acceptance, whether it’s the applause of these deaths by the unhinged Pastor Steve Anderson, or just the tacit acceptance of exclusion and bullying by the quiet Methodists.
It’s also time to call out the news media, especially the Republican propaganda machine Fox News, and the politicians who, for their own purposes, desperately want to make this about international terrorism as opposed to the attack on the LGBT community that it was. This is the aspect of all this that is especially untenable. You can not fix a problem you refuse to name.