Internalized homophobia may have been a motive of the mass killer in the shootings early Sunday in a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Reports that the shooter frequented the club before his massacre of 49 people dead and more than 50 injured raise the possibility that he was a closeted homosexual — homicidally conflicted — hating gay persons and himself for his attraction to other men. It will take forensic psychologists to further that line of inquiry.
What we know for certain though is during his homicidal rampage, the Islamist-inspired terrorist pledged allegiance to ISIS. Like the San Bernardino couple, the Orlando killer was a radicalized lone wolf, inspired by ISIS’s blanket appeal to its followers to make terror attacks against civilians in their home countries.
Shock gives way to outrage and a desire to strike out in retribution by a citizenry almost numbed by mass shooting after mass shooting, no matter the motivation, committed over recent decades.
But instead of a united response to this latest attack – the worst in modern American history – as to any other, our politics is so polarized that the two broad camps of Left and Right heap abuse on each other’s explanations for such mayhem and prescriptions to combat them.
You see the deep divides on Facebook, on the news and in conversations with friends, family or struck up with strangers.
For our nation to even begin to combat the enemy within, inspired by ISIS, the enemy without, the culture must reach consensus, rather than squabble, over the meanings of these atrocities.
First, each one is different. But let us be honest, liberal or conservative, in ascribing the causes and proposing cures. The killer in Newtown, Conn., was a homegrown nutcase. The Orlando killer a native-born Muslim susceptible to a distorted Islam’s admonition to kill Americans and allied peoples during Ramadan, especially, in retaliation for our air war against ISIS. His act was more than a hate crime; it was an act of war by a self-declared soldier among the enemy within.
Nor does it help that the GOP presidential candidate should hint that President Obama is somehow supportive of such attacks because of his failure to call perpetrators “radical Islamic terrorists.” Donald Trump later tweeted his reaction to a Washington Post headline: “I am no fan of President Obama, but to show you how dishonest the phony Washington Post is, they wrote,‘Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting’ as their headline. Sad!”
It seems to us that people believe about these shootings what their particular, partisan TV media sources tell them. The perceptions of FOX News and MSNBC are radically different, each preaching to their respective choirs. We would like to see honest reporting of such heinous crimes, let alone presidential and other political campaigns, not merely this host of pundits promoting their preferences. The present state of television cable news only adds to the great divide enfeebling our domestic politics and harming our national security resolve.
Conservatives must stop attacking calls for restrictions on the sales of military-style assault weapons as liberals wanting “to take our guns away.” And liberals would do well to cease overly nuanced analyses that seem to conservatives to shy away from recognizing and calling out evil for what it is. Both sides must be clear in their determination to combat it, rather than each other.