Title: Explaining Orlando Credit: Craig Young Comment Wednesday 15th June 2016 - 1:50pm1465955400 Article: 18402 Rights
Fallout from Saturday's Orlando mass shooting tragedy has led to considerable debate over interpretation of the event itself and proposed solutions. In the United States, Republican presumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump has exploited the tragedy, calling for all Muslim immigration to the United States to be halted. Belatedly, he acknowledged the grieving families of the LGBT victims, called for a moment of silence on their behalf and wounded and commented that they "murdered our gays. In response, Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton has argued for monitoring Internet content, intervening beforehand to censor Internet content that might contribute to radicalisation of 'lone wolf individuals' and calling for a ban against assault weapon firearms. It is uncertain how blanket censorship of the Internet could be achieved to accomplish the prior objective. While the call for an assault weapon ban sounds more logical and reasonable, Republican and Democrat positions on this are polarised, as Trump defended US gun owners against Clinton's call, the National Rifle Association is a powerful sectional interest group and Republicans control the US federal House of Representatives. President Obama made the most convincing analysis when he called Omar Mateen a "lone wolf gunman." Let's examine that line of thought. It is true that ISIS claimed responsibility for Mateen's actions, but there is tenuous evidence linking the tragedy to direct association with the Sunni Islamist terrorist network. Much of ISIS' organised activity is limited to the Middle East, Northern Africa and Western Europe, where it can field large numbers of operatives and co-ordinate operations against specific targets. In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, it has to compete with al-Qaeda's rivalry and opposition. There is also a pocket of Sunni Islamist insurgency in Mindanao in the Phillipines, associated with al Qaeda. When it comes to North America, however, matters are different. Given the intensive internal security and surveillance facilities available to the FBI, CIA and Canadian Security Intelligence Service, any repetition of the al-Qaeda/Taliban atrocity against the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001 has become impossible to achieve. Potential armament supply lines, online communications and telecommunication links are monitored rigorously and suspects are monitored to forestall any repetition of such a dire contingency. Thus, while ISIS (and al-Qaeda) might want to claim responsibility for the acts of 'lone gunmen", it is at best vicarious responsibility and not actual supply of armaments or concrete operational planning. Mateen is now known to undertaken theumrahreligious pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia in 2012/13, but is not known to have actually made contact with representatives of such organisations while there. Moreover, he made mutually contradictory claims to membership of the Sunni al Qaeda and Shia Hezbollah networks, which are opposed on ideological and geopolitical grounds to one another, and to ISIS. These were made during 2013-14 and it was thought that Mateen had associations with Moner Mohammed al Salha, an American-born al_Qaeda suicide bomber who killed himself in Syria, which led to FBI surveillance, later called off as there was no concrete evidence of direct operational involvement with any Islamist organisation. During 2006-7, Mateen worked with the Florida Department of Corrections and his LGBT co-workers reported no trouble with him, not even any anti-LGBT remarks. His former first wife, Sitora Yusify, may have provided an unintentional clue as to the origin of the actual cause of events when she accused Mateen of domestic violence and mental illness. The question is, which mental illness? Although there is admittedly no direct evidence that Mateen may have been experiencing undiagnosed schizophrenia, such mental illness results in auditory hallucinations or "voices", which can be controlled (imperfectly) by antipsychotic medication. It is possible that Mateen did not acknowledge any such mental illness to others, and may have believed that his 'voices' were 'divine inspiration' to carry out the act in question. However, against this interpretation, no prescriptions or containers for antipsychotic medication have been found at his premises, or calls to prescribing general practitioners or mental health facilities in his phone records. FBI Director James Comey acknowledged Mateen was a 'lone wolf' individual. This is a strongly distinct possibility, however. It would fit in with other acts of individual religious terrorism carried out by 'lone wolves' in North America. One particular parallel can be drawn with the incident which occurred at Parliament Hill on Ottawa, at the Canadian War Memorial, at which Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed a Canadian serviceperson on duty and went on to threaten sitting parliamentarians at the House of Commons before he was apprehended and killed. As possibly was the case with Omar Mateen, Zehaf-Bibeau appears to have been experiencing a psychotic episode from unmanaged schizophrenia at the time of that tragedy and was living in a homeless shelter at that time. If so, then this is an indictment on the absence of acute mental health crisis facilities in North America which could have forestalled both tragedies. Other news sources have noted that Mateen was actually frequenting the nightclub, drinking and messaging gay men. If so, that may be attributable to concealed gay sexuality, it might have been cognitive dissonance about what his 'voices' were prompting him to do, or it may have been 'scoping out' the venue and putting his future victims at ease with his presence so they suspected nothing. Leaving aside the personal motivation of Omar Mateen and debate over how to prevent any future such tragedies, forty nine individuals are now confirmed to have been murdered in his rampage at the Pulse nightclub, and fifty three individuals are in either intensive care or undergoing post-operative surgical recovery within medical facilities. Fortunately, the nightclub was adjacent to an Orlando medical clinic. Vigils have occurred across the world in solidarity with the Orlando shooting victims, prominent New Zealand LGBT community leaders and political figures have expressed their horror at the tragedy, and my Gaynz.Com colleague Sarah Murphy has done an excellent job at providing detailed and comprehensive coverage. TVNZ and TV3 also both provided comprehensive coverage, acknowledging the LGBT dimension and that due to the HIV blood donation rule, gay men were banned from donating blood in this context. Amongst other reactions, angry British gayGuardianjournalist Owen Jones stormed off a British Sky News discussion panel when he thought that the presentation was downplaying the fact that LGBT individuals were the primary targets of this particular shooting, that it was a homophobic hate crime, and the worst such event in western history, given its scale. He became infuriated when he thought that his fellow presenters were failing to acknowledge that particular context for the event and abruptly left the panel. However, President Obama specifically mentioned that the Orlando shooting victims were primarily LGBT individuals, although some straight allies also perished in the attack. In his address, Pope Francis did not. Despicably, some anonymous homophobes took to social media and commented about the fact that due to HIV transmission risks, there was a blanket ban on gay male blood donations in this context. This is in stark contrast to the people of Orlando itself, who selflessly engaged in intensive voluntary blood donation when called upon. Reflecting the disgust and abhorrence that responsible Muslim community members feel at Mateen's actions, London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan vowed to protect LGBT Londoners at that city's Orlando vigil. The Council for American-Islamic Relations and the All Dulles Area Muslim Society of Washington DC are amongst a growing number of US and international Muslim organisations to unreservedly condemn the atrocity. In New Zealand, the Islamic Women's Council and Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand have declared their revulsion at Mateen's act. As for Islamophobes, Brexit campaigners Leave.Com have been slammed for exploiting the tragedy for purposes of anti-immigration propaganda. And while antigay Westboro Baptist Church crowed about the tragedy, they're not the only fundamentalist Christian homophobes to praise Mateen's actions. Anti-Semite right-wing extremist Faithful Word Baptist Church minister Steven Anderson stated likewise. His local follower, Logan Robertston of the Westcity Bible Baptist Church, has wisely refrained from commenting on his Facebook page. And in Sacramento, another fundamentalist Baptist minister, Roger Jimenez (Verity Baptist Church) unleashed a vitriolic diatribe about 'sodomites and pedophiles' Canada's far right Lifesite hasn't refrained from commenting either, with a sniffy diatribe about the "right" to be a fundamentalist Christian homophobe and distribute lies about LGBT community members and the denial of collective Christian Right responsibility for helping to construct homophobic attitudes. Other conservative Christian activists have distanced themselves from their more radical fringe counterparts. Former Republican presidential aspirant Ted Cruz stated that no-one has the right to kill LGBT people, but also took the opportunity to lambast Democrats for their alleged 'inaction' against ISIS, war and terrorism, as well as gun control advocates in this context. The above tragedy demonstrates the best and worst of human nature. Some of us stand in solidarity with the vulnerable and injured, while others cast calumnies at the victims, or try to exploit this profound tragedy for sectarian or partisan political banalities. Recommended: Wikipedia/2016 Orlando nightclub shooting: 2016_Orlando_nightclub_ shooting Wikipedia/2014 shootings at Parliament Hill, Ottawa: 2014_shootings_at_Parliament_ Hill,_Ottawa "Owen Jones walks off Sky News interview when Presenter plays down antigay nature of the attack"Attitude:13.06.2016:http://attitude. walks-out-of-sky-news- interview-while-discussing- orlando-shooting/ "Barack Obama pays tribute to LGBT victims of Orlando gay club massacre"Attitude:13.06.2016:http://attitude. tribute-to-lgbt-victims-of- orlando-gay-club-massacre/ Elaine Mendus: "The Internet rushes to blame the horror of Orlando on people with HIV"HIV Plus:13.06.2016:http://www. 13/internet-rushes-blame- horror-orlando-people-hiv Joseph McCormick: "Mayor of London Sadiq Khan vows to protect LGBT Londoners at Orlando vigil"Pinknews: 13.06.2016:http://www. mayor-of-london-sadiq-khan- vows-to-protect-lgbt- londoners-at-orlando-vigil/ Nick Duffy "Leave.EU slammed over vile Brexit poster exploiting Orlando tragedy"Pinknews:13.06.2016:http://www. leave-eu-slammed-over-vile- brexit-poster-exploiting- orlando-massacre/ David Hudson: "Christian pastor says Orlando massacre 'good news': "50 less pedophiles in this world"Gaystarnews: 13.06.2016:http://www. christian-pastor-says-orlando- lgbti-club-massacre-good-news- 50-less-pedophiles-world/#gs. 7w4SHf0 Rob Waugh: "The tragedy is more of them didn't die: Christian preacher's hate-fueled Orlando rant" Metro UK: 14.06.2016: uk/2016/06/14/the-tragedy-is- more-of-them-didnt-die- christian-preachers-hate- filled-orlando-rant-5944054/ Meka Beresford: "Anti-LGBT Republican Ted Cruz wants to 'end political correctness' following Orlando attacks" Pinknews: 14.06.2016:http://www. anti-lgbt-republican-ted-cruz- wants-to-end-political- correctness-following-orlando- attacks/ "Islamic Women's Council condemns killings"Scoop: 13.06.2016:http://www.scoop. islamic-womens-council- condemns-killings.htm "NZ Muslims and NZ HRC urge Kiwis to stand together"Scoop: 13.06.2016:http://www.scoop. nz-muslims-and-nz-hrc-urge- kiwis-to-stand-together.htm Not Recommended: Ben Johnson: "Orlando massacre: Christians should feel grief, not guilt"Lifesite News: 13.06.2016:https://www. orlando-christians-should- feel-grief-not-guilt Craig Young - 15th June 2016    
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