The Orlando Shooting Is A Reflection of the American Psyche, not Radical Islam

The deadliest mass shooting in American history. Orlando Pulse, “the hottest gay bar in Orlando.” 49 LGBT people killed, 53 wounded; countless more traumatised, scarred for the rest of their lives, terror-struck by the sound of a firework, made restless by a shift in the shape of a shadow, made victims again at every mention of a gun, by the next inevitable mass shooting, by every gun-toting Liberty lover whose solution is “more guns”, who’ll rally against mental illness or the socialists in the White House, but not against the cancer that has long since turned America into a hospice for its most vulnerable citizens. They live in fear of death, without care, without dignity, only a omnipresent dread – often justified quietly by the rants of politicians or the disdain of strangers – but sometimes manifesting violently, angrily, as rape, as assault, as death.

In this attack, that LGBT people are right to fear for their safety should become undeniable. Assailed by “religious freedom” laws, by laws that pre-empt local protections, by laws restricting their freedom of movement, their rights to a stable home, to stable employment, to use a fucking bathroom. These are laws protected and enacted by so-called social conservatives, who whip up a concession of moral panics and hatreds, blind in their bigotry to the damage they do, even when it visits – naked and grotesque and terrifying – upon their fellow Americans in a scene like this: in the LGBT community’s memory it will forever be a harrowing tableaux, for the conservatives just another excuse to grandstand; to appear tough – and just look at the farcical way they do it.

“Really bad shooting in Orlando,” tweeted Donald Trump. “Praying for all the victims and their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart, and vigilant?” And then, a few hours later: “Is President Obama going to mention the words radical Islamic terrorism?”

This coming from a man who refuses to identify the victims as LGBT; the site of the attack as a gay bar; the catalyst for this cataclysm as the sight of two men kissing – and there are people who will think of that scene and wince at the thought. The same people who support “traditional marriage”. The same people who support “the safety of women in bathrooms”. The same people who support correctional facilities where gay men are electrocuted until a hug from their own father will make them weep. The same people who believe Michelle Obama is a man. Or that AIDS is God’s punishment for sodomy; that trans teenagers are confused or want to be special snowflakes; that to be trans is to be worthy of hellfire or death. Attitudes fostered and cultivated by demagogues and bigots and people who don’t know any better and people who “don’t care, to be honest” and so say nothing. Into this world was the Orlando attack born, and those who made and make it possible have no right to claim it as their own.

Donald Trump won’t identify the Orlando attacks as a hate crime, nor will Rubio, nor Paul Joseph Watson, who prefers to refer to Islam’s violence problem, not America’s bigotry problem. To address the core motivation of the shooter, Omar Mateen, would be to recognise what they hold in common with the man – their homophobia and transphobia, separated only by their means of attack – and what part they, and those like them, played in a radicalisation that knows no religion, only the fears of the ignorant and the desire to cleanse. No LGBT person will feel stood up for by these men. No LGBT person will forget the spaces they’ve been forced from by them, or the rights they have had denied. The fear they live in is not Islamic, it is endemic in all areas, thrown into the spotlight by this spectacle, but when the camera pans their lives will still be cut short out of frame, by poverty, by discrimination, by mental illness and violence, by heartbreak and ostracisation, by people who care nothing of their losses and only for their own gain.


Blaming MS804’s crash on Muslims won’t help, but right-wing demagogues will do it anyway

The death of 66 people following a plane crash has been hailed by Stuart Varney as a “plus” for Donald Trump and his proposed immigration plans for Muslims. Trump’s proposals follow the long-cherished tradition of prohibiting things that might kill us, though past experience tells us people will just end up brewing terrorists in their bathtubs instead. Of course, it’s this kind of ostracisation that breeds homegrown terrorists in the first place, but it’s not all bad – the inevitable backlash will one day be hailed as a plus for comedy hacks who need to make edgy jokes about conservatives “losing their heads.”

Outside of right-wing discourse, however, this tragedy isn’t all about the Donald and I’m a little embarassed to have framed it like it was. In the Trump era it’s difficult to talk about any topic without mentioning the next führer of the United States, but in this case it’s because he represents post-9/11 hysterics so well. The thinking goes like this: any Islamic terrorist attack vindicates the view that Muslims are dangerous. Any day that passes without an Islamic terrorist attack is a fluke. If you’re wondering where White terror attacks fit into this, the explanation is simple: people like Elliot Rodger and Anders Breivik are heroes standing up against politically correct tyrannies like feminism and multiculturalism, and are nothing at all like the Muslims threatening our way of life. With this in mind, allowing more Muslims into the country is like letting locusts into your house, which is why David Cameron likes to refer to groups of asylum seekers as “swarms.”

I often feel more threatened by our politicians than I do by the omnipresent Islamic Menace, though. Radical Muslims don’t want me having the right to get married to a man, for example, but then nor does my old MP, John Redwood. The average radical Muslim is more likely to radicalise a couple more people, in a sort of strange satire on pyramid schemes, than they are to actually kill someone. Redwood, meanwhile, helps make up a government whose benefit sanctions have killed at least 40 people since 2012 without a single cry of ‘Allahu Akbar.’ Statistically I’m more likely to be killed by secondhand smoke than by a disaffected Muslim, so most of the time I struggle to see what all the fuss is about. A lot of people just don’t want to be told that most Muslims are peaceful and that we have a moral duty to help refugees, showing how easy it is to be aloof about a humanitarian crisis when you’re a) not drowning, b) not developing malaria in a refugee camp, or c) not being incinerated by £100,000 worth of explosives.

At any rate, some ISIS chargé d’affaires will come forward to claim responsibility for MS804’s crash soon and, despite the fact that the majority of our terrorists and budding jihadis are homegrown, this tragedy will inevitably be used to justify further calls to block any more refugees from entering Europe. I look forward to seeing how the government responds to more pressure to toughen up its stance towards asylum seekers. After all, in the UK it’s already politically conventional to view children as a security threat; who knows what further scaremongering will do? But I can’t blame all our shortcomings on the xenophobic press and weak-willed politicians. Our current approach to asylum seekers also has roots in old English tradition. The witch hunters of the dark ages would have been proud to see us channel their mentality: if you float, you’re a witch, but if you drown – which you will – we’re sorry, but we couldn’t take any chances.

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