Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Free Reading of Let's Stop Denying Made in America Terrorism (Amazon Kindle)
Thursday, June 16
FBI director James Comey flatly said that there is no evidence of any foreign direction behind Omar Mateen’s Orlando nightclub massacre. In three probes of Mateen prior to the rampage, one lasting nearly a year, the FBI found no hard evidence that he was an embedded ISIS plant. President Obama flatly said that there is no evidence of any foreign tie to Mateen. Could he have been influenced by ISIS, or Al-Qaeda videos, speeches or sentiments, yes. But that’s all speculation, and a far cry from a smoking gun link to ISIS.
What’s not speculation is that he was born in America, went to elementary, high school and graduated from a community college in America. He was married to an American (from California), worked at a security outfit that had of all things a top government clearance, had aspirations to be a cop, bought the guns he used in the massacre legally from gun shops in the area, and worst of all, partied and socialized at the gay club that he shot up. Reports of Mateen’s alleged crackpot, obsessive, homophobia, and alleged manic abusive nature, ranks much closer to the top as a possible motive for the rampage.
Yet, none of this mattered to Trump and countless others. He, and they, instantly and relentlessly branded him an ISIS want to be terrorist. The three operative words that tell why Trump and others furiously relaunched the hunt to brand him an ISIS Manchurian candidate are fear, ignorance, and politics.
The fear and ignorance are the easy ones to explain. In the steady parade of mass shootings, even the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood massacre, last November, where the alleged shooter is as American Waspish as can be, the first thing out the news box was the shooter Muslim, or was there a Mid-East connection? This stokes, fans, and inflames the deepest, basest, and by now well-conditioned, anti-immigrant fear and hysteria among many Americans. This is a sure fire bet to garner headlines, massive media attention, and a nudge up in the ratings for the networks. And when there are reports that someone such as Mateen may have made some loose, usually uncorroborated, statements or threats about terrorism that feeds even deeper into the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant belief that America is under attack from outside its shores.
The politics behind the witch-hunt of Muslims is just as easy to see. It’s been an ace card for legions of GOP demagogic, fear-mongering officials and candidates. Trump simply took it to the next demagogic level. His is part calculation, part pandering, maybe even part belief. The bigger part is that it’s paid rich dividends. It started with his almost single-handed revival of the false, phony, and racist birther hit on President Obama during the early days of the 2012 presidential campaign. He hit the political jackpot this campaign go-round with the snide call for banning some, many or all Muslims depending on who he was talking to.
This instantly transformed him from a reality show curiosity to a legitimate presidential candidate and propelled him on the fast track to the GOP presidential nomination. His anti-Muslim crusade has even cowered other GOP opponents and party leaders into tip toing around him when he dangerously spews anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rants. Trump’s verbal war with Obama and Hillary Clinton over “radical Islam” and who and what’s to blame for the Orlando massacre is his double down on the tragedy to score political low points. But there’s more.
In elections past, polls have shown that by big margins GOP presidential candidates have gapped Democratic presidential candidates on the question of who Americans think will be tougher on terrorism and assorted Mid-East bad guys, especially when there’s the possibility of another home grown attack. Trump scored much higher here than Clinton, while Americans had little confidence in Obama’s handling of a domestic terror attack.
Obama’s continued care in putting the blame and the action needed on radical, and hateful deranged individuals, and not on all Muslims or immigrants is the type of caution and restraint needed but obviously is not what legions want to hear. Trump knows that.
This brings it back to Mateen; a born and bred American citizen, who was educated, worked, and raised a family here as has been true with just almost all the perpetrators of mass killings and attacks from Boston to San Bernardino, and now Orlando, during the past decade. And in the decades before ISIS was even thought of, mass murders such as the Oklahoma City bombing in 1996, have been the diabolical handiwork of American citizens. And each time fear, ignorance, and political opportunism come into deadly play with finger-pointing, harassment, and physical attacks against American Muslims, Islamic mosques and community centers.
Muslim organizations and leaders are the first in the door to loudly denounce individuals such as Marteen who sully Islam by committing abominable acts. No matter, this and all the statements from the FBI and Obama about no foreign involvement in mass murder attacks by men like Marteen will fall on the deaf ears of others and Trump, even though a Mateen is as American as him.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of Let’s Stop Denying Made in America Terrorism, (Amazon Kindle) He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.