Fifty dead and even more wounded in the Pulse Massacre. The victims? Patrons of a gay night club. This targeting of gays by a Muslim mass murderer is the first such that I am aware of.
But is hardly surprising.
The event has been called a “mass shooting,” an “act of terrorism,” an “act of evil” and an “act of hate.” All these seem reasonable, though I prefer the neutral but exact word massacre, too little used in the age of terrorism.
I guess it is not often used because its defining phrase, “indiscriminate slaughter,” seems a tad out of place, since the targets in this case were almost certainly selected because they represent an offense against Islam. (And Islam? It means “confident submission” . . . to God. But it really means submission to those who would kill to persuade.) This, despite the fact that the Islamic world often sports long-tolerated patterns of homosexual behavior and culture.
Expect hypocrisies and antinomies from any major religion.
A religiously inspired massacre, the largest such atrocity on U. S. soil not counting shooting in war, that is what it is. So of course there is of course a lot of nonsense being said about it.
Indeed, most people seem to get loopy when it comes to such atrocities. The word “terrorism” is thought by many to be precise. But it is worth noting that there are several dimensions to the idea, and loose thinking about it inspires over-use and misuse. In this case, I don’t really know if the motive of the now-dead murderer Mr. Mateen was really to instill fear, or just kill people he disapproved of. But he did declare allegiance to ISIS. So the political element was there.
But then, ISIS purports to be Islamic in its very name. So focusing on the religion as an inspiration for this act of violence is hardly out of line. ISIS would be the first to concur.
Still, there is no evidence that Mateen was trained by ISIS, or had close ties. He was likely just inspired by the group.
So we must look closer at the basic motivators, not just the institutional ones.
Self-righteous denigration of others is quite a heady brew. Islam in its modern context — as an ideological bastion of very old and very bad ideas, among people beleaguered on all sides, wounded and outperformed by the West, betrayed by their own leaders, outshone and marginalized and brutalized — breeds all sorts of resentments, from envy (familiar trait among Western socialists) and spite (familiar enough to anybody) to frustrated rage (with a tinge of righteousness to muddy our thought).
The Quran itself is no great succor, since it quite literally instructs its people to kill and conquer and rule. But the Islamic world is not in a position to rule. They inhabit some of the poorest regions on the planet, and those that are rich because of oil reserves, they bring very little to the civilizational table other than redistributive consumption. The Islamic peoples, in nation after nation, are not great workers. Hence their atavistic practice of slavery.
But Mr. Mateen was an American whose parents hail from Afghanistan.
And here we have the real problem. And it remains Islamic. It is not the first generation of Muslim émigrés that we really have to worry about. It is usually the second generation disaffected who commit these horrible acts. And it is ideology — Islam is an ideology, remember — that changes opinion and inspires acts of an extreme sort.
What are we to make of it? I won’t preach love or hate. I think those of us capable of extended thought should collect and retain as much information as we can, look at the problems from as many sides as is feasible, and try to promote justice as much as possible.
It won’t be easy.
For now, I merely note that the Pulse Massacre is a fine example of initiated force. Mr. Mateen may have thought that he was justified, perhaps because of some other deaths elsewhere in the world, by the U. S. government, or by American infidels, or what-have-you. But he could not justify his initiation of force against people who had literally nothing to do with those other, distant crimes. A citizenry is not wholly responsible for the acts of its government. It may have been cowardice that led Mr. Mateen to select innocent homosexuals as his targets rather than paid agents of the U. S. government. Or laziness. But by deflecting his attention away from any possible malefactor against people in the Mid-East who share his religion, he scuttled any defense, no matter how tenuous, that his act was retaliation, and thus not initiation of force.
So, it is good that he is dead, then. No need for an extensive trial.
Though that could have been instructive.