Omar Mateen and Rightwing Homophobia: Hate Crime or Domestic Terrorism?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

US law enforcement is at least initially categorizing the horrific Orlando shootings as “domestic terrorism.”

I don’t think it probably was terrorism in any useful sense of the term.

I used to know what domestic terrorism was, before the term became politicized in the past decade. It was defined right there in the Federal code of 1992:

“(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

The great thing about this definition is that it focuses on the motive behind the act. And it specifies that the motive has to be to coerce people or influence or affect government policy.

So if the alleged shooter, Omar Mateen, was a terrorist you would expect him to make demands about US government policy. There will be more such acts, he would have said, unless the US government passes a law outlawing homosexuality. Or unless the US government withdraws from Afghanistan. (But if he aimed to change the latter policy, why shoot up a civilian gay club on Latin night? Wouldn’t he have targeted, say, a US Army base?)

Shootings like Orlando that hit “soft targets” such as restaurants or nightclubs are not a form of classical strategic terrorism. Serious terrorist would hit military targets, e.g.–an act that might hope to degrade US security. Shooting down people at a nightclub has no obvious strategic goal. Such a goal is intrinsic to the tactic of terrorism, and its absence should cause us to question the use of the term.

What we know about Mateen so far doesn’t indicate that he was a member of a terrorist organization. If the authorities thought that he was, the crime would have been labeled international terrorism, not domestic.

We know that his father, Seddique Mateen, is a Pushtun nationalist from Afghanistan who objects to the 1893 Durand Line that the British drew between British India and Afghanistan, which cut the Pushtun ethnic group in two. Today, the Pushtuns (called Pukhtuns in the local dialect) are a majority in the province of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa of northern Pakistan, while the Afghanistan Pushtuns dominate a number of provinces stretched across eastern and southern Afghanistan. Decades ago a Pushtun nationalism that wanted to unite Pushtuns into a single country and secede from both Pakistan and Afghanistan had some popularity, but it is now a fringe movement.

Mateen senior goes on a California Persian-language tv and promotes this subnationalism. He is also said to support the Taliban, but that may be because he sees them as authentically Pushtun and oppressed by the Punjabi Pakistani officer corps, rather than because he is a fundamentalist. His big emphasis seems to be on erasing the Durand Line. He asserted that his son’s action had nothing to do with Islam. Although the US press is depicting Seddique Mateen as himself perhaps unbalanced, his position isn’t crazy, it has just become a minority idea.

durand

Iranian languages incl. Pushto h/t Wikimedia

You could imagine Mateen being brought up to resent that the West had divided and weakened the Pushtun ethnic group. But there isn’t any evidence that Omar shared his father’s separatist politics.

We know that Omar Mateen’s marriage failed because, his ex-wife alleges, he beat her. Her Muslim relatives were so appalled on hearing this that they extracted her from the match.

She says he wasn’t religious 8 years ago.

We know that a co-worker when he was employed as a security guard considered him unbalanced, racist and homophobic, and even left his position rather than continuing to have to work with him.

We know the FBI investigated him twice and found no reason to pursue the inquiry or to keep him on a terrorist watch list.

So this person looks as though he was unbalanced and extremely prejudiced individual who bought two semi-automatic weapons only last week and then committed a mass shooting against a group against which he was bigoted.

He may have invoked Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) as he began his mayhem, but there is no reason at the moment to think that he was involved with them in any practical way.

He was about to commit a mass murder that he must have known would likely end in his own death as well.

So it may be that he was searching for a way to make sense of his homicidal impulse, a way to give meaning to his senseless killing and senseless death.

So, a major, major hate crime for sure. But terrorism? What is the governmental policy he wanted changed?

If it was about gay marriage, well, there is a lot of political opposition to that on the Republican Right, and violence against gays has been a feature of the American far right.

In fact, you could argue that the American evangelical groups that successfully lobbied Uganda to execute gays were engaged in a form of international legislative terrorism–they are certainly driven by a political agenda and wanted to see people killed; they were just more patient about it.

In a mirror image of Mateen, police in LA arrested James Wesley Howell , a right wing white conspiracy nut. Howell was found with high powered rifles and bomb-making materials. He says that Hillary Clinton is Hitler, and he is a truther, alleging that the US government is behind terrorist attacks since 2000. He was headed to the Gay Pride parade in Los Angeles, though friends of his denied that he is a homophobe. (Friends don’t always know these things).

If Howell was planning an act of violence at the parade, it was forestalled by his arrest, so it is hard to compare him to Mateen, especially since we know so little about Howell’s intentions. But these two men both seem to have been unbalanced, and both intended to go to a gay event.

The biggest thing they had in common between being off their rockers was that they had free access to high powered firearms despite all the signs they exhibited of being one can short of a six-pack.

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51 Responses

  1. Excellent article. I like your precise definition of domestic terrorism, using a federal statute, very much. This kind of sane analysis has been missing in the general discussion of “terrorism” in the media.

    • Domestic terrorism, hate crime, Isis? Or is it just a loser who cannot bear his insignificance any longer, and has learned that he can achieve a week’s worth of intensive television by mass murder.

      The solution would be to ban TV coverage of mass murders, just restrict coverage to a mention in small print on the back page. Surely that’s worth an experiment for a couple of years.

  2. I don’t think its helpful to classify such an unbalanced gunman as a terrorist unless his motives are known. I.e. if there is a web video (or something) in which he praises IS and pledges allegiance to it that comes out over the next few days, then I might believe he had some encouragement, if not operational direction, from the group. Until then we should judge him to the same standards as the typical mass shooter, an unbalanced and (typically) white male, suffering from a combination of extreme political beliefs, mental health issues and a meaningless and unhappy life. We don’t call the likes of Jared Loughner a terrorist, even though he shot a Congresswoman. To my mind the terrorist label doesn’t apply in this case either.

    While I firmly dislike so-called hate crime legislation it seems pretty clear to me that from what we know so far, the shooter was motivated more by a hatred of gays than a political agenda, whatever airs he gave himself. Confirmation once again that the widespread availability of weapons makes it too easy to commit these kinds of mass shootings. But at this point nothing will move the gun lobby.

  3. It only a few weeks back that a huge bomb went of in the Syrian capital and ISIS claimed responsibility for this. Just as in America, there were fifty people killed as well as a many more injured in this attack. America, Britain, France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are the very people who have been arming these terrorists, either directly or indirectly through proxies. Last week I watched a parliamentary committee over here in the UK question a minister and two of his side kicks. Part of the interview was about why we (Britain) hadn’t sent more ammunition for the heavy machine guns we had supplied the ‘friendly’ terrorists. The fact is, the West with its ever growing greed for resources and regime change has stirred up a hornets nest and the chickens are coming home to roost! “As ye sow so shall ye reap”

  4. Presidential candidate D.J. Trump has said in the past his reaction to such “Terrorist acts” would be to kill the shooter’s family. It will be interesting to see if today he still support sthat approach to suppressing massacres.

    • Interesting… I would like to see the exact comment and context. But let us not forget the drone strikes and other extreme actions committed by Bush, Obama and Hillary (among others of all patries) in which huge groups of innocent family members are killed to get one bad guy. Those political personalities have already acted to slaughter innocent families… but that apparently does not warrant weeks of news coverage.

  5. This unconscionable action may be the most destructive to date but it is far from rare. Daesh claim responsibility, presumably because if people believe that then it’s the same as carrying it out without all the collateral effort, but it cannot be compared with the bombings in Paris and elsewhere. AP reports US citizens shooting each other almost daily so the singularity of this event is its enormity not the incidence. Looking for a singular motive for each is like seeing each weed rather than the field overrun with them. Apart from their reaction of horror, which is a personal reaction, many outside the US have come to see such incidents as things that happen there.

  6. Whether the horrible massacre in Orlando could be described as a terrorist act or not, the fact remains that homophobia was at the root of that heinous crime. In the West too homophobia has a long history. In England, it was not until the 1967 Sexual Offences Act that homosexuality was decriminalized. Even so, Lord Arran, the author of the bill, called upon homosexuals “to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity… any form of ostentatious behaviour now or in the future or any form of public flaunting would be utterly distasteful.”

    In fact, some believe that apparently the legislation facilitated an increase in prosecutions against homosexual men. It was not until the beginning of the 21th century that “the offences of gross indecency and buggery” were repealed from statutory law. The jailing of the novelist and playwright Oscar Wilde from 1895-97 with hard labor on charges of homosexuality was a celebrated case. Many Christian fundamentalists in Europe and the United States still condemn homosexuality as being contrary to Christian teachings, but as the result of public education society at large has come to terms with it, although grudgingly.

    The sad fact is that there has not been a similar development in Islam, and Islamic countries almost uniformly regard homosexual acts as a crime, which in many cases are punished by death. It is time to raise our voices against this medieval mentality and try to educate the public in Islamic countries that far from being a crime homosexuality is a natural phenomenon among a minority of people, thus it is the will of God if he/she exists. As a Pushtun and probably a fan of the Taliban, Omar Mateen shared their homophobic views and that was perhaps the main reason for committing that horrendous crime.

    • Seeking to impose your values on other cultures is a cornerstone of hegemonic aggrandizement, to be pursued with all the unquestioning conviction of a Dominican inquisitor. Homosexual activity is simply one type of sex outside marriage, which is condemned in many places, Qatar for instance where it is illegal and considered a serious crime, and should not be confused with screwing the occasional camel boy. The implied argument that ‘raising voices’ against the values of Islamic marriage will somehow obviate unconscionable excesses of homophobia in the US is hard to follow.

  7. We may be past the point you are rightly making. Analogous(so wish it weren’t so!) to the European days and nights following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The facts can and will most likely take the back seat.

  8. Bill Stearns

    Exactly. An act of pure nihilism, but one which is being exploited by those with an ideological ax to grind. Nuance is now passé.

    • Yes, that is exactly right; a damaged mind which took to extremist hues after failing at a normal life. The views then led to the act of terror. People like Mateen start out ill-adjusted but can slip under the radar until their personality problems manifest in repeated antisocial acts. Some stop there, while others (Dylan Roof springs to mind) go on to destroy themselves and the people around them, using a veneer of ideology to justify the process. I seriously doubt IS had heard much of Mateen before today.

  9. It is too early to suggest in any meaningful way what motivated Mateen. We will know a lot more about his motives and what influenced him when authorities have investigated his computer, cell phone, and other data.

    The right wing and evangelicals are fair game regarding their homophobia. But it is one-sided to just beat up on them, much as they deserve it. There is an equally strident strain of homophobia that runs through Islamic society and culture as well. Muslims should not be exempt from criticism of their own brand of homophobia.

  10. My prayer when I first saw this on the news Sunday morning is, “God have mercy.”

    I understand Omar Mateen was a registered Democrat in Florida. You do excellent work in your analysis here. I think this additional fact should also be in the mix.

    I wonder of the true ISIS connection in this tragedy. If he was not a lone wolf only inspired by ISIS, how did ISIS get instructions to Mateen without NSA’s data mining finding the connections? Maybe NSA is no longer examining data as we once feared. Mateen was a licensed armed security guard and held a stable job position in an unstable job market for more then five years. The news gives us part of the information. There is far more to this guy. We can assume Mateen’s hatred of gays, and maybe hatred of Latin-Americans. There were a lot of Puerto Ricans in that night club.

    On Monday morning, reviewing this stuff, my prayer remains, “God have mercy.”

  11. Thank you for your analysis. I could have done without the slurs against the mentally ill in the final paragraph. Like the overwhelming majority of muslims, most people with mental illness are nonviolent and noncriminal.

  12. Wife also says he was bipolar and on meds when she knew him (years ago) … sigh.

    This tragedy is quickly morphing into a election fodder … the usual scripts wrt blame and guilty associations are being read (shrieked, actually) with the special-sauce of terrorism and the teeming hoards of Muslims and illegal (im)migrants as backdrop … another grinding through the oldies (“greatest hits” ) week.
    Hysterical calls for an assault weapons ban … something we once had, lost and a cause that actually (paradoxically?) lost support after Newtown.

    Lois Beckett over at ProPublica has written a lot about gun control and gun violence — gun control advocates have turned towards screening buyers and away from assault weapons bans as being better use of resources.

    Mateen was certificated security personnel with no legal history … he was investigated because of boasts he made … boasts found to be fictitious … and yet, we have folks insisting he “should” not have been able to purchase weapons. These arguments play very very poorly in much of the country where gun-owners fear a conspiracy to infringe their “rights” by whatever means or pretext possible. Someone noted that gun access was largely unregulated prior the Black Panther’s self-defense display of arms which led very quickly to successful legislation … it would be ironic if a similar paranoid fear of (“radical”) Muslims with gun had the same effect …. (the criteria for being considered a “radical” is never given … )

    link to propublica.org

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It is so difficult to find information in the mass of clichés that the media has spewed out about the shooting and you have provided it.

  14. Perhaps they will have to start having to give these suicidal young men prizes not to go on murderous rampages, which offer them the ‘prize’ of posthumous notoriety.

    As a secret demographic these men have the potential to hold America effectively hostage. The message sent through the chain of like phenomena is: ‘If you treat me unfairly in a significant way, I am operatively free as an American to react in a massively damaging way, with an unforgettable vengeance equal to that of the ancient gods, I have the freedom to accumulate an arsenal sufficient to fulfill this threat, this promise!’

    Neoliberalism having established a permanent regime of a labor and thus existential insecurity, especially for less well educated young men, a pattern seems to be becoming established whereby a minority of such men ‘dare’ to realize their fantasies of destroying such a system by attacking its unprotected innocent civilian underbelly. The acts are the most debased form of insanity, but the undeniable pattern has its own self-extensive message and logic, it is a story being written on an ever-extending wall of bloody and merciless executions motivated by the most denatured atavistic idealizations of male autonomous honor.

  15. What grossly misinterpreted Constitutional Right allows a U.S. citizen to possess a killing machine so powerful that scores of innocent victims can suffer and die on a whim? Whatever the motivation.

    Florida does not ban such KILLING MACHINES and in fact places few limits on this type of weapon. The need for a 100 round clip to bring down Bambi is the lie of cowards – making the AR-15 the choice of self-styled mass murdering “terrorists,” assassins who disembowel little helpless children en mass and psychopaths who open fire in darkened theaters throughout this GUN OBSESSED country.

    Colt markets the gun as a military grade weapon “engineered to deliver maximum carnage with extreme efficiency.” No false advertising here.

    Quoting the poster “You’re not a ‘real’ man without one.” So, if one has a severe shortage of testicular fortitude or courage, buy the AR-15. Still tiny but well-armed is better than not. Right?

    There are MILLIONS of AR-15s floating around in our country which raises the question – why so many NOT “real men?

  16. The root cause of violence is the human self, which reflects a spectrum of qualities and attributes from the lowest to the highest.

    The lower qualities include hatred, anger, vengeance, ignorance, selfishness, attachments, desires for power, control and resources, seeing otherness, arrogance, doing unto others what one doesn’t want done unto one, etc., while the higher qualities are the opposites of these, and include qualities, such as love, peace, forgiveness, knowledge, selflessness, detachments, no desires for power, control and resources, sharing, seeing no otherness, serving others with no expectations, not doing unto others what one doesn’t want done unto one, generosity, humility, etc.

    Grooming the self so that it reflects the higher is what is needed, and this process transcends religious, non-religious, cultural and racial boundaries.

    If a path doesn’t help the self to reflect the higher then it’s useless, regardless of the label we’ve given it.

    • Well said. The strain of anti-intellectualism in America requires a somewhat united front from the elites for suppression. When the GOP sold its soul to racism, fundamentalism, propaganda, social Darwinism, extreme capitalism, financialism.. to maintain viability, the day of Trump could be foreseen. Getting back to when sublimation of our baser instincts, community, honor in government were at least plausible alternatives, is going to be difficult.

  17. Then there is the media’s claim of the Orlando mass shooting being the worst in US history. Obviously, these “journalists” don’t know US history or chose to ignore it. Consider the massacres of Native Americans, My Lai, the slaughter of Filipinos during the Spanish-American War, and the mass shootings of men, women and children in the Middle East and South Asia.

  18. Your last paragraph wraps it up perfectly. And as is always the case after a mass shooting, an army of NRA clones descends onto social media, to push their worn out mantra that “it’s not the gun it’s the person”.

    • I concur. Ironically it is “the person with the gun”. Since legal norms, morals and ethics etc, restrain us (civilization) form destroying the man (without some remorse of conscious) ,we certainly can the gun. But then there those who can’t live without their gun(s) it seems. And now on to the discussion, sponsored by the NRA.

  19. Thanks for a balanced and sensible report. “Terrorism” is becoming as overused as “antisemitic”.

  20. If Mateen wanted to terrorize a population he hated, would that not also be terrorism? Is it not terrorism when drones buzz over a village day and night and the community is constantly worried when and where the next missile will strike? Are they not terrorized? What is sacred about Federal Code?

  21. I’d say the Charleston killer was a domestic terrorist because he was at war with a population, and incidentally with that part of the government that might represent that population’s interests. Terrorizing a population into surrendering its political rights or even emigrating is a political act, and thus terrorism. The KKK were terrorists regardless of whether any of their acts were targeting a specific government official or policy.

  22. Why one or the other? Your story overlooks one part of the definition of domestic terrorism that you provide: “the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that… (B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” The news thus far certainly suggests a hatred of LGBTQ people, and one might argue that death equates a form of “extreme coercion,” thus fitting the definition of terrorism.

  23. I’m going to push back on one point: It’s not necessarily true that terror always is underpinned by tactics or strategy and carried out against military/political targets. The recent bus bombing in Turkey and the attack on the restaurant in Tel Aviv were not military targets. But these were, indeed, terror attacks.

    • Both attacks did indeed have a political agenda. The PKK attack in Istanbul was aimed at getting the Turkish public to let the Kurds secede. The attack in Tel Aviv was aimed at encouraging European Jews to go back to Europe and leave the Palestinians alone.

      The attack in Orlando was carried out to produce what political outcome, exactly?

      • My point, Juan, was was to challenge the notion that serious terrorism targets military targets. It’s still too early to know exactly what Mateen’s agenda was. (There’s a piece in today’s British Independent reporting that he frequently visited the club and had was grappling with homosexual feelings. Yet at the same time, he committed publicly to ISIS) In either case, blind expressions of violence are indeed manifestations of terror. The attack on the Tel Aviv restaurant – was it really intended to drive out European-born Jews? Most Israelis are native born. I would frame the murder of civilians within a larger framework of Israeli-Palestinian nationalist frictions dating back decades. But this particular attack is not the sort of thing that rolls back history to the time of the British Mandate. It was designed to inflict pain and express rage – similar to Orlando.

  24. As always, your report on these things is balanced and insightful. Unfortunately, rational analysis is not very powerful here and the connection of the shooter with terrorism remains intuitive and visceral. And this is what people will respond to. People like Trump understand this and exploit it. I’m afraid that’s just how political elections work.

  25. The Pulse mass shooting was a terrible and horrific act. 49 people lost their lives to senseless gun violence at this one location at the hands of a single gun man.

    Bear in mind though that if it was a typical day otherwise, about 80 more Americans were also killed by guns, just as they are on every average American day.

  26. Crisis in leadership on the far right? A few Orlando Massacre reactions –

    • Lt.Governor of Texas Dan Patrick blames the victims by turning scriptures into anti-LGBT biblical horsepucky –

    “ ‘Do not be deceived:
    God cannot be mocked.
    A man reaps what he sows’ (Galatians 6:7)”

    • Media toon Trump says he was “right all along” and demands the President resign because he is somehow complicit.

    * Canadian-born former Senadate Ted Cruz played his FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) card against all Muslims with his “radical Islamic terrorists” broad brushed pontifications.

    * In step with Canadian Ted Cruz, State of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller offered this in a deep blue graphic –

    “How to end Terrorism
    1) Buy a gun
    2) Learn how to use it
    3) Carry it EVERYWHERE
    If you aren’t willing to defend your life,
    what makes you think someone else is?”

    YEEHAW!!

    None of these extreme right-wing “leaders” offer anything sensible or useful. Serving only to whip up more fear of and h8tred against our brown-skinned citizens and ignoring the victims because “God cannot be mocked . . . . ”

  27. So, we have a hyper-militarized society with guns rampant. We have in steady drumbeat a background noise of violence, racism, hatred of certain creeds (esp. Islam); it permeates our culture, it infects the vilest of two-legged creatures ever to rise to the top of US politics like so much pond scum. We give racism, hatred, violence, a media platform – these days via Trump. And we respond with candles and vigils when a normal society would have had a more human reaction like, I don’t know, um maybe massively surrounding the Capitol Hill with all those holding candles and saying, “Sorry, you are not leaving the building until this is resolved – we are going to just stop this shit”.

    Sorry, but guns, a perverted interpretation of Islam, mental illness, and homophobia may have all had something to do with this, but only may. At base though, the dead in Orlando, at Sandy Hook, in Roseburg, in San Bernadino, are dead by the will of the American People. We have decided to give gun violence a free pass. The dead in all of these places are dead because of all of us. By the will of the People. The murderer is in the mirror.

    • The idea that everyone is a spiritual adherent to the gospel of the spewing clip is just another false equivalency, that aids the NRA in there quest to make peace seem heretical

  28. Of course, we cannot interview the dead; it’s doubtful they would prefer a terrorist executioner over a homophobic executioner, or a spiritual terrorist to a secular one. The blood flows regardless of motive.

  29. At some level I wonder whether attacking GLBT/Hispanic community serves to further divide our country (those who are shocked and sympathetic from those who say “you got what you deserved”) in a strange parallel to strategic attacks on Shiites to further divide Iraq (“divide and conquer”). So wouldn’t attacking this Latino-dominant gay bar set up more infighting that further weakens our country. I think that is exactly why President Obama called for us to unite and stand firm together against such carnage. Wouldn’t that strategic goal, of pitting us against one another (brilliantly, given the preponderance of gun-toting people all too ready to shoot up one another) then come under the category of terrorism? Make the holier-than-thou homophobes fight harder against supporters of equal rights for GLBT community, even to the point of violent confrontations?

    • “even to the point of violent confrontations?”

      We are at that very point in time, now.

      This from Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church – “Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?” asked Jimenez. “Um no. I think that’s great. I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight. The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is I’m kind of upset he didn’t finish the job — because these people are predators. They are abusers.”

      Or this – “I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a firing wall, put the firing squad in front of them and blow their brains out,” Jimenez preached.

      There is very little difference between the homophobic Pastor and Assassin Mateen except zealot Mateen actually did it.

      Quoting the Pastor, “they deserve what they got.” . . . . . . on a mission from God.

      link to usatoday.com

  30. This had little or nothing to do with Islam. That’s only epiphenomena – a convenient label for him to try to explain his actions to himself. We know now that he was a closeted gay man and hung out at the Pulse and other gay night clubs. Sometimes the simplest explanations are the right ones. It’s a startling fact that the great danger to gays is those who cannot deal with their own gay fascination.

  31. Why does it feel like we’re being forced to take one of the two extreme perspectives: Either he was a full-blown Islamic terrorist, trained and guided by ISIS commanders, or: He was a nominal Muslim who committed a major hate crime because of his bigoted, hateful beliefs about gays.

    I don’t think he was a trained terrorist cell-member activated by ISIS. But I do believe his religious beliefs have some bearing on this conversation. My question is what does Islam teach about homosexuality? He absolutely committed a vicious hate crime against against the LGBT community, but where did this hate come from? Ask yourself why some radical Muslim countries prescribe the death penalty for homosexuals. A person’s religious affiliation does have bearing on what they do and say, does it not?

  32. The gunman was terribly conflicted about his own sexual identity. Add in the Islamic extreme intolerance of homosexuality and his mental state as it was and easily available weapons and it was a match waiting to be lit. The latest news is that the man had been seen many times at this club and people knew of him and had a dating app on his phone. I think the Islamic phone call was an afterthought. It is so sad he wasn’t able to reconcile so many conflicts in his mind and wasn’t able to find a loving relationship with another human.

  33. What is so shocking about this? Consider the following about gun violence in the US since the start of 2016 alone?

    Total Number of Incidents 23,592
    Number of Deaths1 6,050
    Number of Injuries1 12,401
    Number of Children (age 0-11)
    Killed/Injured1 258
    Number of Teens (age 12-17)
    Killed/Injured1 1,294
    Mass Shooting2 139
    Officer Involved Incident
    Officer Shot/Killed2 147
    Officer Involved Incident
    Perpetrator Shot/Killed2 373
    Home Invasion2 989
    Defensive Use2 727
    Accidental Shooting2 1,054

    The culture of your country is violence with guns be it in the country or in a foreign country. Perhaps you should look at yourselves collectively and then then do something about it instead of writing endless articles about the horror of it all.

    • And the NRA, “firearms enthusiasts” and half-wits answer to fix this – MORE MORE GUNS!!

      Until the fully conscious citizens of our country find a way to curtail BILLION$$ the NRA spreads across Congress and state governments, nothing will change.

      There are simply TOO MANY GUNS in our country for anyone to be safe.

  34. Professor Cole, I was a student at U of M majoring in history in the mid 80’s. Your Modern Iran and The Gulf States lecture is one of the most informative and memorable classes of my time there. Just as this essay, the subject was topical and in it’s way comforting in helping to explain the lead up to the events that took place in Iran during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. I had a couple friends who were also in the class and we joking but respectively referred to your style as “just the facts ma’am” Jack webb like and in reading the essay above I see it holds true. I appreciated your work then and still do today. Thank you for your informed and reasoned perspective.
    Bob Griffin.

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