Like too many writers who find themselves working on Sundays I spent a good part of yesterday gathering and posting information about the attack in Orlando, focusing on accumulating the available information rather than trying to draw any deeper meaning from it. The event obviously left the nation stunned, but barely 24 hours after many of us awoke to the news I’m even more stunned by the spin being applied to the tragedy in its aftermath. Despite what turned out to be immediately obvious to the FBI and quickly apparent to those watching the coverage, this terror attack by an ISIS sycophant is, this morning, being treated as a symptom of something deeply flawed about American culture.
The largest camp is comprised of those who are treating this as an attack on the LGBT community. Clearly the club where the murders took place was a hot spot for gay and lesbian music fans and it played a role in the terrorist’s target selection, but treating this as some sort of internal problem is an insult to the dead and ignores the serious nature of the actual challenge we’re dealing with. Still, that hasn’t stopped the tide of outrage from washing up on precisely the wrong shore.
British columnist and democratic socialist Owen Jones got up and stormed off the set of one show because the other panelists insisted on mentioning that the shooter was a terrorist. If you read the article where Jonathan Capehart weighed in on the attack at the Washington Post you’ll have to scroll halfway through it before you find a sentence saying, “Authorities are calling this an act of terrorism.” It is the only mention of “the T word” in the entire piece. There are too many other examples of this phenomenon out there to mention here.
At the New York Post, John Podhoretz summons up the appropriate response to this shifting of blame from the actual enemy to the real victims. The statement from the President of the United States was his primary focus, and for good reason.
America’s national attitude toward LGBT people didn’t shoot up the Pulse nightclub. This country’s national attitude has undergone a sea-change in the past 20 years, by the way, in case the president hasn’t noticed.
An Islamist terrorist waging war against the United States killed and injured 103 people on our soil. We Americans do not bear collective responsibility for this attack. Quite the opposite.
The attack on the Pulse nightclub was an attack on us all, no less than the World Trade Center attack.
To suggest we must look inward to explain this is not only unseemly but practically an act of conscious misdirection on the president’ s part to direct out attention away from Omar Mateen’s phone call.
The final straw for me came when I saw the statement from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office yesterday.
We mourn with the people of Orlando and the LGBT community as a whole on the news that -once again- we have lost precious lives to the gun.
— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) June 12, 2016
I’ll admit that my somewhat rash response was a bit more brusque than I would have liked, but seeing this attitude reflected among so many of our elected leaders is maddening.
Yes, Omar Mateen hated gay people, as some of his co-workers are already relating to the press. But that was far from the sole focus of any anger he felt and not even the primary driver. He also hated women and reportedly beat his wife. And his colleagues also reported that any religion other than his own – particularly Jews – could send him into a tirade. In other words, Mateen fit the precise profile of everything we hear on a daily basis about ISIS.
How many more clues do we need? He was tied by the FBI to radical Imam Marcus Dwayne Robertson, locally known as Abu Taubah. His father (who insisted this wasn’t about religion) is a supporter of the Taliban. For God’s sake, people, he called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS as their leadership instructs them to do before slaying the infidels. How much more evidence do you need?
As Podhoretz notes elsewhere in his column, this was not an attack on the LGBT community by internal forces. It wasn’t an attack on women. This was an attack on America by the forces of ISIS and Islamic terrorists around the globe, even if they found a home grown agent sympathetic to their cause to pull the trigger. If we need to learn something from this it’s not about guns or tolerance or rainbow flags. It’s the fact that we’re still at war and the enemy is bringing the battle to our shores repeatedly, just has they have promised to do all along.
I suppose that sort of message doesn’t motivate enough voters on the liberal side of the ship during an election year, yet you can trust me on one point if nothing else. You may not be living by the sword in your day to day life, but you can most assuredly die by it. That’s the lesson Omar Mateen had for us.