Tuesday 25 October 2016

Ian O'Doherty: Orlando 'Pulse' nightclub attack was more Charlie Hebdo than Columbine

Published 14/06/2016 | 02:30

People hold U.S. flag in rainbow colors as they pay tribute to the victims of Florida shooting in front of the U.S. embassy in Warsaw. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
People hold U.S. flag in rainbow colors as they pay tribute to the victims of Florida shooting in front of the U.S. embassy in Warsaw. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

In a country which had more than 11,000 gun murders within its borders in 2013, you have to do something pretty spectacular to get noticed.

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When Omar Mateen walked through the doors of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and proceeded to murder 50 people and injure at least another 53, in what is now the largest mass shooting in American history, he certainly succeeded.

When news of the shooting began to emerge on Sunday, most observers would have initially assumed it was 'just' another nightclub shooting, of which there are countless every weekend.

But as more information began to emerge, one thing quickly became clear - this was another act of jihad, with obvious similarities to last November's terrorist attack in the Bataclan.

Even as Obama continued to debase his office by refusing to even mention Isil, let alone radical Islam, the terror group was claiming credit and boasting that: "The armed attack that targeted a gay nightclub in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida, which left over 100 people dead or injured, was carried out by an Islamic State fighter."

Then, because this is what they do, they promised to visit more death and destruction upon American soil.

Does anyone doubt them when they say they plan more attacks? After all, they have a horrible habit of being good to their word.

Yet even before the cops had been able to secure the area, every creep with an agenda was scoring political points.

It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump reached new levels of unapologetic crassness by using the atrocity to score lazy and squalid political points, but while that may have been unsurprising, the ostrich-like response of liberals and progressives from America to Europe was even more nauseating.

Taking their cue from progressive-in-chief Obama (pictured right), the chin strokers were quick to inform us that there were two reasons for this attack - lack of gun control and old-fashioned homophobia. In fact, it didn't take long before people were placing the Pulse massacre in the context of other mass shootings in America, such as Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook.

When examined, both of these apparently reasonable points collapse into ideologically driven dust.

For starters, and surely most obviously, the Pulse shooting needs to be placed in the context of attacks in Boston, Fort Hood, San Bernardino and the Bataclan rather than domestic killing sprees. This was more Charlie Hebdo than Columbine.

Discussing gun control is the right argument at the wrong time - France and Belgium have strict gun control but that didn't protect them from the jihadists' murderous nihilism. Even when guns aren't an option for Islamic supremacists, they will resort to homemade bombs, as we saw with the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston.

This stubborn refusal to confront the real reasons for such an attack was perfectly expressed by Owen Jones of 'The Guardian', who walked off a Sky News paper review on Sunday evening when his fellow guest suggested that it wasn't 'just' a homophobic attack.

Jones, and many others, have bizarrely insisted that homophobia was the only reason behind the attack and that only gay people can truly understand the devastation caused by such a massacre.

That's as stupid as saying that only people who like rock music could truly grasp the horror of the attack on the Bataclan, or only journalists could feel the pain of Charlie Hebdo.

Claiming this as an exclusively LGBT issue is identity politics at its most exclusionary and grotesque. It's also a sentiment echoed by many Irish gay commentators and it begs one simple question - if the opinions of straight people were so important last year during the marriage referendum, why are they so irrelevant and unwelcome now?

Of course this was a homophobic attack. Nobody has suggested otherwise. But it's also more than that, no matter how much gay activists want to claim exclusive ownership of what happened.

Being gay carries a death sentence in 11 Muslim countries and no matter how hard the liberal gay community tries to pretend that Islam is not their enemy, the facts say otherwise. It's hardly paranoid Islamophobia to suggest this was a religiously motivated homophobic killing spree.

If the death toll wasn't so high, it would be amusing to see some of these commentators looking for something, anything, other than the real cause.

So far, the 'homophobic' Catholic Church has been blamed; the 'homophobic' Republicans have been blamed and, inevitably, 'homophobic' Trump has been accused of fostering a climate which makes these attacks easier. But having a difference of opinion doesn't make you the moral equivalent of someone who murders 50 people.

Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan and now Pulse all have one thing in common - they represented modernity. Impudent satire, gay rights and rock music are all Western conceits and these attacks all stem from the same course code - radical Islam. But when you have member countries of the UN publicly executing gay people, it's hard to see where the moderate Islam stops and the radical version begins.

It's easy to say that these people hate the West, because they obviously do.

But they also hate the 21st Century and modernity.

On this occasion, as on so many others, even the people who are targeted prefer to pin the blame on anything other than the ideology responsible. That is simply cowardice of the basest kind.

And please, can people stop calling this a 'tragedy'? That word has been used a lot, but a tragedy is something that is out of people's hands.

This was a man-made atrocity, not a tragedy.

Irish Independent

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