The Book!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Mystery of Mateen's Motivation



The real culprit?

My friend the leftist columnist—let's call him “Xerxes,” so I don't have to keep saying “my friend the leftist columnist”-- sent out his column on the Orlando bloodbath just two days ago. I make that a week after the shootings.

He writes “ No one knows Mateen’s motivation.”

This is odd, because he says himself that Mateen phoned 911 during the shooting, and took the trouble to state his motivations. Several times.

This weird blindness has not only afflicted my friend, of course. I have seen it in most accounts in the mainstream media. They all seem to sit around somewhere puzzled. Somehow, it was the gun that did it. Naughty gun. It might not have looked like an AR-15, but it had to be an AR-15, too. The US Department of Justice has even released a transcript of the 911 call in which they tried to actually delete any reference to Mateen's motivations.

What is going on here? More evidence that the world is mad? Being out of touch with external reality, after all, kind of defines that experience.

In the case of my friend, he concludes that it is all down to “fundamentalism,” which, he then clarifies, means “specifically, American right-wing religion.”

Mateen was a registered Democrat.

Fundementalism is specifically a movement within American Protestantism. As a Muslim, Mateen was certainly not fundamentalist in that sense.

More generally, and in common discourse, “fundamentalism” has also come to mean someone who reads the scriptures of their religion in a strictly literal sense, as the fundamentalists do and did.

This tendency, of course, has nothing to do with politics. Reading your scriptures literally does not make you either Republican or Democratic. If, on the whole, the Protestant “fundamentalists” do tend to be right wing politically, then so, according to surveys, do those who take religion seriously in any sense. Was Mother Teresa a fundamentalist? Was Gandhi? Joan of Arc? Saint Francis? Is a Benedictine monk a fundamentalist?

It might be instead that there is a moral problem, not merely a problem of scriptural interpretation, behind such current left-wing policies as unisex toilets, abortion on demand, or a legal obligation to cater gay weddings. A generation or two ago, being religious did not equate to being “right wing” politically. Good Catholics generally voted for Kennedy. Aimee Semple McPherson was a fan of FDR and the New Deal.

In this second sense, of taking his scripture, whatever the particular scripture, literally, Mateen was not a “fundamaentalist” as far as we can tell. Yes, there is a tenet of sharia that calls for death as the penalty for sodomy. But then, the sharia is not the Qu'ran, and is not even based on a literal reading of it.

Moreover, Mateen actually—has anyone else even noticed this?--does not say he is shooting anyone because they are gay. Intimates and previous acquaintances say he was gay himself. He says he is shooting them in protest against the bombing of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Unless they went and redacted something else they're not telling us about.

So, yet again—has the world gone mad, were they always mad, or are they really that dishonest?

Yes, the world has probably always been insane. But we have a special problem here, and this example illustrates it. The reason we have a culture war is that we have lost all possibility of civil discourse. The reason we have lost all possibility of civil discourse is that one side no longer accepts any rules. There is no longer anything common to appeal to: no evidence can be of any weight, not even the evidence of the senses, no morals, and no logic.

That is the explicit agenda of postmodernism, and it did not begin with postmodernism. It saturates feminism: a woman can be and do whatever she wants, and if all established moral codes say otherwise, the problem must be with all established moral codes, and they must be condemned. It can never be with her desired action. That would be oppression. It was certainly already there with Marcuse, in the Sixties and even the Fifties. It is seen plain in the supposedly Marcusan slogan found on some wall during the Paris uprising: “Be careful! Even the ears have walls!”

By this now-common doctrine, “reality” and “truth” are whatever you will them to be. And nobody gets to say any different. It is all a matter of the triumph of the will.

Marcuse claimed in turn to find it all in Marx. He may be right; some part of it at least seems implied in the Marxist idea that man is infinitely malleable. Maybe all of it follows.

I think you can also find some of it, maybe by implication all of it, in Martin Luther, who considered “faith” the essential human act and a moral choice. If he meant “faith” in the sense of trust, all well and good. But a lot of people, and maybe Luther himself, take it to mean “belief.” So, indeed, we even talk of religious people generally as “believers.”

Probable co-conspirator.


Wrong. Truth is not a matter of choice.

I admit that Imyself, once, as a college freshman, even as late as grad schoool, found this attitude exhilarating, liberating. But it is logically nonsense, morally evil, and the death of all community. If everyone gets to choose their own reality, what happens when two people with different realities meet? The only option for resolution is for one to dominate or kill the other.

Hitler and Mussolini were very much in this tradition.

And it is where we are headed, more and more each year.


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