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June 16th 2016 print

Michael Warren Davis

Going Down for Allah

It shouldn't be so hard to grasp, nor would it be if modern journalists' first instinct was not to report events as newsroom consensus prefers to frame them. A Muslim kills 49 people while screaming 'Alahu Akbar'. Obviously, conservatives, gun owners and Islamophobes are to blame

gay man falling IIThe only thing that perpetrators of major terrorist attacks have in common is their religion. That, and being total weirdos. Exhibit Z: Omar Mateen, self-proclaimed ISIS loyalist and, quite likely, a closeted homosexual. Neither is particularly unusual in itself, but taken together you get a pretty bizarre mental image: a leery, effeminate chanting “Allahu Akbar” to drown out the hot and guilty fantasies of man-on-man action that plague him. If this was a premiere screening at the Sundance Festival and not the backstory to a major terrorist attack, the character of Mateen might even provoke sympathy. Indeed, by the final scene, we could expect a happy ending, as he reconciled himself with his sexuality. They would probably call it Camelback Mountain.

No consensus has been reached on who exactly is to blame for Mateen’s actions. Republicans, in their predictable and reductive way, have blamed Mateen. Democrats, however, have been more creative. President Obama pointed the finger at Donald Trump, namely his proposed Muslim ban and use of the phrase radical Islam. (We can almost see Mateen, doing “research” on Grindr and polishing his AR-15, fuming: “I’ll show those bigots who doubt that Islam is a peaceful, moderate religion.”) The New York Times blamed Republicans more broadly, opining

While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish.

No mention that Mateen was a registered Democrat, but no surprise there?

In many ways, the Orlando shooting was a liberal dream come true. In their unflagging efforts to blame Muslim terrorist attacks on anyone but Muslim terrorists, they came up with the line some months ago that terrorists were “emotionally unstable” or something to that effect, and this death cult which has nothing to do with Islam (how could you even think such a thing?) was merely a convenient excuse to act on violent urges. That worked for a while, until the PC censors came to their senses and realized that blaming terrorism on mental illness is ableist. So they had to bin that line.

The Orlando shooting offered their old horse new shoes. Not only could they shift the blame away from the perpetrators – they could place it on the shoulders of their preferred scapegoat: conservative Republicans. Who is responsible for jihadism? Right-wing Christian patriots! It just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?

That’s too bad, though. Besides being grossly inaccurate, the ableist excuse actually made a lot of sense. Like we said, these terrorists aren’t just fanatical ideologues. Most of them are also really sick puppies.

The problem is that such an explanation isn’t complete. If Americans executed gays via defenestration, we could well understand the occasional LGBT American committing random acts of violence against gays as part of an extreme repression mechanism. Homophobes are, by and large, queer as two-dollar bills, or so the prevailing narrative has long insisted.  The reason Americans never ever commit acts of anti-gay violence on this scale is because the idea of killing gays is appalling to even the most vigorous Bible-thumpers. The worst we get are those snake handlers who “pray the gay away”. Wrong, yes; but nowhere near as severe as what gays endure in the Middle East.

However homophobic Republicans might appear in liberals’ eyes, the NYT would do well to realize that Western gays have it better than their counterparts in the Near and Far East. Don’t blame Republicans with a thing about sodomy. Rather, thank God that they’re the worst that LGBT Americans have to contend with. Omar Mateen isn’t a product of American, Christian, or Republican homophobia: he’s a product of Islamic homophobia. His father is an ardently homophobic Taliban sympathizer, born and raised in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. He comes from a culture that doesn’t just say that maybe men shouldn’t marry other men, or that crossdressers probably shouldn’t be allowed to use the girls’ showers. He comes from a culture that says men who have sex with men should be killed, as brutally and publicly as possible. If his father was a fundamentalist Protestant, he might’ve shouted some vile words at the patrons of Pulse. Because his father was a fundamentalist Muslim, he shot them.

The former scenario is far from ideal, but only an intellectual and moral dwarf can’t distinguish it from the latter. Too bad for us that moral and intellectual dwarfs form the vanguard of the Democratic Party and their media stooges.