I’ve really got to hand it to James Kirchick. Within a day of the Orlando massacre he managed to carry out a broad survey of the left and determine that it was too cowardly and “purposely dense” to point out the role Islam played in the murderer’s motivation. Hear that, liberals and assorted pinkos? There is one factor that brought this horrific plan to fruition, and it is Islam. How dare you talk about gun control. How dare you express concern that innocent American Muslims will once again face a backlash for something they did not personally do. How dare you suggest that something this horrific could have several root causes.
Kirchick condemns those (apparently including a lot of gay Americans) who make a “moral equivalence” between this hate crime and anti-LGBT discrimination such as the wedding cake ceremony. I’m not one to dismiss the experience of someone who spends so much time on Twitter and using it as the basis to judge vast swaths of the population, but I find it hard to believe that anyone of reasonable intelligence is actually suggesting that a baker discriminating against a gay couple is literally equivalent to gunning down civilians in a night club. I think they might have in mind the kind of institutional discrimination that preserves homophobia in America. Maybe someone remembered that another man was planning a large-scale massacre against a LGBT event in LA and unless he’s a convert it’s safe to say Islam wasn’t a motive. I think they might be unknowingly or knowingly thinking about something like this:
Ah but in order for Kirchick to get his point across, he employs a little magic trick. He tells us that this isn’t the first Muslim murderer of gays in America. He then provides us with one case and then quickly leaves the United States to point out the atrocities against LGBT people in countries of the Middle East and Africa. Those not quick enough to pick up on it will miss one important point. However horrible the crimes of Sharia-based regimes might be, none of their actions have a direct impact on LGBT people in the United States. Given that the majority of homophobic crimes in the US are committed by fundamentalist Christians or at least non-Muslims, I think US-based gays can be forgiven for not feeling particularly threatened by the theocratic regime in Iran. Justifiably outraged? Of course. Threatened? No.
This is where we get to the heart of the matter. I don’t mean to beat up on Kirchick for insisting that everyone confess out loud that the problem is “Islam.” He’s by no means the only one. More importantly, I’m an atheist and have no need to defend Islam; I only defend innocent people who have not actually committed any crime. I have in the past condemned those who foolishly say “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam” or those whose immediate reaction to the most egregious atrocity is to pick out some crime of their own government, however old, and act like this somehow negates the horror of what happened. But in spite of this, I have a question for those who, with smug self-righteousness, stand up and challenge people to say the I-word in response to a terrorist attack.
So what? No, I’m not denying that Islam is a factor. It sure is. Congratulations! But I repeat my question- so what? What do we do about this? Do we take the Trump route and ban all Muslim immigration into the country? Well that won’t do- it might radicalize Muslims already in America. Well maybe we can just round them up into camps! Who needs that pesky Constitution anyway?
And what do you plan to do about those Muslim societies abroad? Do we invade and force tolerance on them at gunpoint? The US didn’t even dare try to do that when it invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and that didn’t work out too well. No matter. I’m sure it will work out much better if we just invade every country that doesn’t live up to US standards of tolerance (even at a time when the US itself could use a refresher course on the subject) and tell the locals that their religion is shit and they’d better convert or die. Our soldiers wouldn’t need to pull all the weight of course. We can find local Christians and other religious minorities and appoint them in positions of authority over the Muslim population. This plan is so great I’m surprised nobody’s ever tried anything even remotely close to it.
Hey and speaking of our soldiers, who’s going to carry out this great mission? Kirchick? Oh heavens no! This is how Kirchick does battle with an intolerant regime that doesn’t respect LGBT rights:
Look out, Press TV, you’re next in line for a dressing down!
Now I’ve been told by insiders that the reaction inside the studio was a hilarious sight to see, and thus Kirchick deserves some credit. But it’s worth noting that he’d been invited on after advocating the death penalty for Chelsea Manning.
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Talk tough but don’t actually back it up. Let some poor person do the fighting, the killing, and the bleeding as you urge them on into the uncivilized world, making it safe for you or at least your specific identity group.
If we step back from the topic of this mass murder, we see this same kind of pattern repeated on dozens of issues, typically from the “neocon” camp. I mean the real neocons, not the RT-definition of neocon, i.e. anyone who criticizes Russia’s foreign or domestic policies. “Assad is a mass murderer!” He sure is. What do we do about it? “Putin is challenging NATO!” Well, kind of. He’s definitely invading Ukraine, but what did you do about it? “This murder is about political Islam!” Yup. It sure is. I guess now all we have to do is send SEAL Team 6 on a mission to take out the president of political Islam. Cut off the head and the body will die.
Getting back to the heinous crime in Orlando, yes, this does have something to do with Islam. It has a lot to do with Islam. It also has something to do with sensible gun control. And yes, I’d say the ongoing discrimination going on across the country against LGBT people, clothed in the language of
freedom to persecute others “freedom of religion,” has a lot to do with this crime. After all, if the fundamentalist Christians claim persecution because they’re not allowed to harass or discriminate against gays, it only stands to reason that this alleged persecution would extend to Muslims as well. At the end of the day, we can still call this what it is- a targeted homophobic attack motivated to some extent by reactionary religious thought, while at the same time acknowledging that it is also complex.
But if you don’t want to take my word, maybe you’ll listen to the president of the United States.
UPDATE: In addition to a pastor in California who praised the Orlando massacre, an Orthodox Jew of the Chabad sect recently released a rant in favor of the killing. Now if you’re thinking “Okay, there have been many instances of anti-LGBT violence motivated by fundamentalist Christianity, but by Jews?” Well, no. As it turns out, a radical Jewish extremist attempted a massacre at a gay parade in Jerusalem, but thanks to Israel’s strict gun laws he was reduced to using a knife. He managed to stab six people, killing only one of them. What’s that you say? Israel isn’t the US? Yeah, and neither are Iran and Nigeria, countries that Kirchick included in his Islamic war on gays.
People like to point out how much more violence is associated with Islam compared to Christianity and Judaism, but it’s worth remembering that one reason these religions seem so tame nowadays is because they were tamed by state institutions while their claims have been devastated by the advance of science. Now that its on the ropes, religion in many countries suddenly cries out for “tolerance” where it once called for blood of the unbelievers. And it’s worth pointing out that right now, radical “Orthodox” fighters have been waging a holy war of sorts in Ukraine since 2014.
But yeah, let’s just like…ban Islam or something. According to Kirchick, refusal to put the blame solely on an entire religion is like electing Donald Trump, a guy who puts the blame solely on an entire religion. Yeah.