The Calculus of Extremism
At around 2am last night a gunman, apparently linked or sympathetic to the so-called Islamic-state terror entity, ISIS, stormed into an Orlando Florida nightclub and stole a presidential election. The gunman, Omar Mateen was killed in a shootout with police after taking hostages. 1500 miles West a white Anglo-American was arrested heading to an LGBTQ Pride parade in California with an arsenal of weapons. That makes this less than a religious issue than a gun issue.
The attack was carefully considered, however, and wasn’t simply a soft target of opportunity. The attack on a Gay nightclub was a direct attack against the bedrock of American freedom and liberty. LGBTQ rights, like all civil liberties, defines the struggles for women and minorities to be afforded equal rights in this country. Fundamentally, those ideas resonate with the oppressed globally and serve as a direct threat to the oppressors. Don’t underestimate the desire by radicals through this act of barbarism to swing votes towards Donald Trump, who promises strength, and away from Hillary Clinton, a democrat who, along with the proliferated Benghazi propaganda is viewed as weak on national security and terrorism.
The tactics of the Right have always been to divert focus upon real issues important to Americans, most particularly the economy. Trump, who has boasted previously of his part in corrupting government with big money, is likely to continue practices and policies sympathetic to big business and further interference and influence of government by financial and corporate interests. Those interests have only, historically, benefited a small number of powerful Americans, while destroying the middle class, and through shifting the financial burdens against the poor and minorities. Diverting that message to one of fear and terrorism has long proved a productive tactic, particularly but not exclusively by the Right.
The reactionary forces of this nation on the Right and Left, those in power ready to take advantage of the situation, knee-jerk bigots, Christian extremists who view religion as a grand competition and big business interests angling for greater government control will all exploit this. Media consolidation into a hand full of corporations guarantees that the messaging will be on target, reaching the maximum number of Americans.
In short, last night in Orlando, the momentum of the election shifted substantially to Trump. That is precisely what ISIS wants. They prefer the policies of an isolationist reactionary like Trump, who has already begun alienating foreign allies at a time when the Islamic State is isolated and on their heels after suffering a series of battlefield losses. A Trump presidency will alternately fracture the nation deeply, but also uphold the internal mythology of ISIS of a great Armageddon-type confrontation between the West and “Islam.”
Not that it isn’t also an aspect of the crazy Christians either. In posts overnight, hardly a day into the atrocity Christian extremists were blaming homosexuals because of their “sinful” lifestyle. It begs the question, or questions, of whether extremist Christians envy what extremist Muslims are doing the world over in butchering homosexuals, and whether they wish they had the guts to do it. It also brings into question where is the hysterical media response that other terror attacks garnered?
Finally, the gun defenders are already out, despite the glaring questions of how someone so unstable and on the radar of authorities was allowed a permit to own and carry automatic weapons, much less remain as a security guard with ties to Homeland Security. The NRA lobby will simply say he could legally own weapons and that restrictions would harm legal gun owners. The Right and Congress blocked legislation that might have prevented this attack.
Bottom line on the gun issue, because this is what it really is about. Mateen was a US born citizen. Gun licenses are easier to come by than driver’s licenses, and people need those to get to work and go to school. Arguably, there are a fair number who should be behind the wheel of an automobile, and now the NRA and Right wants to put guns in their hands?