ISIS Is in the Hate Crime Business
I rarely wade into discussing politics for a couple of reasons. First of all, Internet discussions of this sort tend to inevitably derail into rage-fests. Secondly, I’m connected to readers and editors of many political stripes and don’t want to incur their rage, if possible.
However, in extreme circumstances I find it necessary to offer an opinion or two in the hope that it may provide potentially useful food for thought. So please accept this blog in that spirit. For the benefit of folks who just dig my fiction and don’t want to know more about my politics, I’ve hidden the political content below the “Read More” tag.
Okay…cool. You want to know what I think about all of this.
Like the rest of my country, I was horrified to wake up to Sunday morning’s news of a massacre at an Orlando, Florida GLBT nightclub. I found myself able to think of little else for the entire day. I watched as facts about the shooting trickled out on cable news. I watched as a hundred varieties of rage spewed forth from social media.
From what I can tell, the rage broke down into two camps. One insisted that we interpret this act as a hate crime enabled by lax gun control laws and bent over backwards to avoid acknowledging the ideological source of the violence. Another insisted that we interpret this shooting as an act of terrorism linked to ISIS, but declined to look at how easy access to assault weapons facilitated the violence and contributed to the high death toll.
Here’s my take (which doesn’t fit neatly into either of the two):
- I think it’s fair to say that the Orlando shooting was linked to ISIS. Whether that link was one of inspiration or coordination will hopefully be made clear in the weeks and months to come.
- Yes, of course, it was a hate crime. Most acts of terrorism are hate crimes (hate against a religious sect or nationality, hate against a race or ethnicity, etc.). ISIS is in the business of hate crimes. They want to use violence to establish a trans-national theocracy based on a strict fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. In their war to accomplish this, they’ve committed hate crimes against Muslims from other sects, against Christians, against women, and against GLBT people. Sure, we can call the Orlando shooting a hate crime. (Or, as President Obama just said, “homegrown extremism”.) But that doesn’t capture the full extent of what’s going on. I voted for President Obama in 2012 and have generally liked how he’s governed on the domestic front. But given all of the information that we already have, he sounds absurd in regard to this particular issue.
- ISIS holds territory, wants more territory, and has grand international ambitions. Those who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State are traitors to the United States. They may still technically be citizens, but they’re traitors. It strikes me as a bit bizarre to only focus on the act of treason and not focus on who we are being sold out to.
- We Americans need to put limits on gun ownership. Let’s start with something about as noncontroversial as it gets–a ban on gun ownership for those on terror watch lists. Let’s think about this issue in terms of the common good and how to stabilize our situation. Such laws won’t end terrorism or grudge-induced violence, but they may (at least for a while) decrease the lethality of such violence. Our enemies may still be able to get guns from illegal sources, but at least we can make it a bit more difficult for them.
- Americans need to unite. We are a country that increasingly accepts an open LGBT community. We are a country that insists on freedom of expression. We are a country that savors the freedom to believe (or not believe) in any form of religion or spirituality. We are a country that enjoys a little dancing and kissing on Saturday night. We need to focus on those values that mutually tie us together. We need to assert that these values are indeed superior to ISIS ideology and that we will fight for them. We need to work with moderate Muslims whose values are also superior to ISIS ideology.
- Trump is still (and always will be) a dangerous fool. The man doesn’t have the temperament to be President. He’s the American version of Kim Jong-un.
- Clinton is a fool (and a tool), but not dangerous. She’ll probably get my vote. Yes, she’s dishonest. Yes, she’s indebted to Wall Street. But when the Republicans nominate CIRCUS CLOWN I will vote for NOT CIRCUS CLOWN.
- Did I just violate #5 by adding #6? Nope, because I also added #7.
- You may be asking “Why do you even care about this? I thought you were more or less a nihilist?”
- I’m not a complete nihilist. I value my writing and transgressive writing in general. Therefore, I value a society where free expression is guaranteed. You think the fucking “caliphate” would let me write Mr. Suicide or The Sadist’s Bible? So, here’s my new slogan. Say it with me now…one, two, three…”Fuck ISIS!”