They Want to Use Orlando for the "War on Terror"
The outpouring of grief and outrage at the murders in Orlando stands in stark contrast to the cynical rhetoric of political figures, from top to bottom, writes Eric Ruder.
They Want to Use Orlando for the "War on Terror"
By Eric Ruder / socialistworker.org
Jun 15, 2016

WITH EACH passing day since last weekend's massacre at an Orlando nightclub, my grief has become outrage. But it's pointed not at officially sanctioned targets, but the officials doing the sanctioning.

While crowds of people take to the streets to mourn collectively, raising slogans like "Don't turn homophobia into Islamophobia," a parade of elected officials, presidential candidates and opinion-makers are engaged in doing precisely that--offering up "solutions" that scapegoat Arabs and Muslims and will only exacerbate the toxic brew of hatred, bigotry and violence that already makes America home to more than half of the world's worst mass shootings in the last 30 years.

It was easy to get angry at Donald Trump, who predictably wasted no time in attacking two favorite targets: Syrian refugees and Barack Obama. Trump called Syrian refugees--who, it bears repeating, are fleeing the violence and oppression of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)--"the all-time great Trojan horse" that threatens "our entire way of life" because the refugees are "sick with hate" and "no different than this maniac."

Trump had these choice words regarding Obama: "In his remarks [Monday], President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words 'Radical Islam.' For that reason alone, he should step down." He leveled the same charge at Hillary Clinton.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an early endorser of Trump, now considered one of his campaign surrogates, made the case for stepped-up war as a response to the Orlando massacre even more explicit. "It is not our fault this hate exists in the world," said Christie. "But it is our responsibility, in my opinion, to eradicate this hate in the world...You've got to get over there and make them pay where they live."

Where, I wondered, could we see the air strikes unfold firsthand? Would I have to purchase a plane ticket to LaGuardia airport in Queens, where the shooter Omar Mateen was born--or to West Palm Beach, Florida, the nearest major airport to Port St. Lucie, where Mateen lived?

Mateen didn't receive weapons training in the deserts of the Middle East, but right here in the good old USA--as a requirement for his job working for the security and mercenary contractor G4S, which runs private prisons, immigrant detention centers and other such facilities around the world.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

BUT MY rage didn't stop with Trump--especially after Hillary Clinton, in what is surely a disturbing preview of how similar debates will unfold as Election Day 2016 approaches, took the bait.

"If [Trump] is somehow suggesting I don't call this for what it is, he hasn't been listening,"said Clinton on NBC's Today. "I have clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will."

With this statement, Clinton was the one using a war against Islam to justify slaughtering people--suggesting that Mateen's tenuous relationship to a religion with 1.6 billion adherents around the world is a rationale for adding to the 12,000 air strikes and countingcarried out in the name of the U.S.-led war on ISIS. The bombardment has not degraded ISIS's fighting capacity, while at the same time handing its leaders the opportunity to promote themselves as "resisting the American Empire."

Barack Obama likewise said in a statement last weekend that the massacre in Orlando was "an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country." Yet this president, who came to office claiming to be antiwar, has escalated the U.S. drone war, bolstered authoritarian dictatorships across the Middle East and beyond, and stoked further violence in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and beyond. The leader of the world's most powerful machine for creating violence has no place lecturing about moral "values."

For his part, Mateen seems to have been very confused about Islam itself--having variously proclaimed his allegiance to Hezbollah, al-Nusra and ISIS, three very different forces that are currently at war with each other militarily, not to mention separated by doctrinal differences.

Mateen's ex-wife Sitora Yusufiy, who fled abuse in 2009 shortly after they wed, said thatMateen wasn't particularly devout when she knew him, preferring to spend his time at the gym. But she did say that he would fly into violent rages while spouting homophobic rhetoric.

Combined with reports now emerging that he frequented the nightclub where the massacre took place and used a gay dating app, the dark hatred that spilled forth in the early morning hours of June 12 seems to be drawn from the very American cesspool of homophobia and repression, rather than Islamic prohibitions on homosexuality--prohibitions which also permeate Christian and Jewish scripture, by the way.

In this context, it's worth remembering that Hillary Clinton only came out in support of gay marriage in 2013--after spending a decade opposing it. And that the Christian Right that has introduced some 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months. And that opinion polls show American Muslims are more supportive of marriage equality than evangelical Christians.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THE PORTRAYAL of the Orlando massacre as an act of "radical Islam" should be categorically rejected--but Clinton is endorsing this view, and so are prominent liberals.

"[Mateen] was lashing out at an America at odds with his darker, smaller, more oppressive mindset," wrote gay New York Times columnist and Clinton supporter Frank Bruni.

Actually, Mateen--who worked as a prison guard and fantasized about joining the NYPD--lashed out from America, and at some of America's historic and most vulnerable targets: gay, lesbian and transgender people who were predominantly Latin immigrants.

The history of their persecution includes the actions of Eric Rudolph, who in the 1990s bombed abortion clinics and a gay bar, as well as the largely forgotten arson that killed 32 at a gay nightclub in New Orleans in 1973.

James Wesley Howell might have added his name to the list with Rudolph. He washeaded to a Los Angeles gay pride event last weekend with three assault rifles and explosive chemicals, but police received a call about a prowler that led to a search of his vehicle. If Howell hadn't been picked up, Mateen's mass shooting may not have been the only one last weekend.

Plus there's the murderers of Matthew Shepard and so many other victims of beatings and killings of gay and transgender people.

It should be obvious: The Orlando massacre isn't specific to Islam.

Religious conviction might have served as a more tolerable self-justification for Mateen than confronting fears about his own sexuality, and given Mateen a sense that he was performing a divine duty--though Christian and Jewish fundamentalists also justify similar homophobic barbarism.

That makes no difference to ISIS, with its vile record of persecuting LGBT people, among other victims, in the areas where it rules in the Middle East. It believes in a "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West every bit as much as the reactionaries speaking out on U.S. airwaves these past few days.

More bombing of Syria and Iraq will solve nothing--least of all the toxic hate that caused the massacre in Orlando. If we need a war, it is a war on bigotry, on racism and on homophobia. We need a fight against the downward spiral of social conditions that cause alienation and prime people to accept misplaced solutions to real problems.

And we should oppose all those figures and forces--from Trump to Clinton, as well as ISIS--that want war between the U.S. and the "Islamic menace." The people who took to the streets over the past few days to oppose violence, honor the victims, celebrate LGBT pride and reject hate are standing up for the opposite.

4.0 ·
1
Trending Today
What Happens When You Rebel Against the Herd
Sofo Archon · 15,555 views today · Are You Truly Living Your Life? You live, but are you living the way you want to live, or the way others want you to live? You choose, but are your choices based on...
The Coming War on China
John Pilger · 6,447 views today · A major US military build-up – including nuclear weapons – is under way in Asia and the Pacific with the purpose of confronting China. John Pilger raises the alarm on an...
Murdoch and Trump, Sitting at the Tee, S-C-H-E-M-I-N-G
Frankie Boyle · 4,618 views today · Say what you like about Donald Trump but he's already done things people said were impossible, like made Twitter worse. Looking back, the Harambe situation is the closest...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 4,499 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Real Underground Kingdom That Has Existed for Millions of Years Went Unnoticed, Until Recently...
Kid Krunk · 2,530 views today · 28 Stunning Photos Of The World’s Largest Cave
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 2,371 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
Thich Nhat Hanh: How We Can Learn to Love Our Enemies
5 min · 1,965 views today · This is a short excerpt from Peacemaking. I often think about this story when I think about the kind of activism I would like to bring into this world. I want to help build a...
Simple Social Experiment Shows We Are More Than The Boxes People Put Us In
3 min · 1,947 views today · We live in a time where we are quick to put people in boxes. Maybe we have more in common than what we think?
I Am Not Your Negro (2017)
3 min · 1,661 views today · In his new film, director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished - a radical narration about race in America, using the writer's original words. He draws...
What Would It Take to Stop the Raids?
CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective · 1,560 views today · Responding Effectively to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Attacks
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,287 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,089 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 1,022 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 927 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 900 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Charter For Compassion
2 min · 674 views today · The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated...
Surviving Capitalist Depression
Michael Emero · 672 views today · We live in a toxic society filled with toxic people. Even the ones with the best hearts- including ourselves- have been raised in ignorance, with disinformation. Our examples...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 555 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Hans Rosling Brilliantly Explains Complexity of Population and Resource Issues Using Simple Tools
3 min · 468 views today · Let me show you the world, says Swedish academic Han Rosling as he demonstrates the dynamics of population growth, child mortality and carbon dioxide emissions. The challenge...
"The Myth of Time" - Martin Luther King Jr.
3 min · 440 views today · Excerpt from MLK Jr.'s last sermon, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution". Delivered at The National Cathedral on March 31, 1968 (4 days prior to his...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
They Want to Use Orlando for the "War on Terror"