What is wrong with the discourse around the Orlando terror attack

As thing stands, if you are discussing the horrific terror attack in Orlando which claimed the lives of 50 LGBT individuals, you must first ask yourself: Am I in anyway responsible for this attack? Because if you listen to some so called “liberals”, the blame could very well lie at the doors of everyone except the main cause of this act and many other terror attacks: ISIS

This much we know:  A CNN report says, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, the son of Afghan immigrants, called 911 during the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS, mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers and started shooting in an LGBT club, killing 50 people and wounding at least 53. With this it becomes the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11. ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting, with the terror group’s news organisation, Aamaq Agency, saying the attack was “carried out by an Islamic State fighter”. Mateen’s father claimed that his son became enraged recently when he saw two men kissing.

So much for the facts. There are many issues which arise from this gruesome incident: Homophobia, Gun Control, and of course Islamic Terrorism, for which ISIS is the flag-bearer.

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There have been some commentators who have argued that Homophobia is at the core of this. The arguments of these lot have wound down from Orlando, Florida to India, asking PM Modi to get rid of Section 377 which is anti LGBT community. The tenuous arguments being: we must show empathy by rolling back this law or that India too is open to such mass shootings thanks to its homophobic laws.

That Section 377 is regressive and must at the very least be modified is a given, but dragging it into an incident that occurred on the other side of the globe is disingenuous. The shooting happened inspite of USA having very pro-LGBT laws, so the question of homophobic laws doesn’t arise. Florida has even legalised same-sex marriages. The real reason is that ISIS preaches gays should be killed, in fact even throwing gays off buildings only because of their sexual orientation. Even more worrying is the fact that a Shia Imam recently proclaimed in Orlando itself that gays must die:

At last check, no group wielding any kind of influence has asked for LGBTs to be killed in India, and certainly just a change in the law will not deter such a twisted mind. Whoever heard of a deranged soul being afraid of doing something just because of the law? At the cost of repetition, this does not take away from the fact that Sec 377 needs a major relook at the very least.

So when lying journalists like Barkha Dutt try to spin this around to “Onus on India” we know exactly what they are doing:

In fact Barkha Dutt even attempted to distance ISIS from the killer, albeit in an extremely confused fashion. She initially retweeted a tweet which said ISIS had claimed responsibility. And within hours claimed that FBI had “ruled out ISIS angle”:

This even when journalists from USA were claiming the opposite:

When we asked Barkha for clarifications, she backtracked and claimed that she had “read a comment by FbI that said he was self-radicalized, not ISIS organised“. We couldn’t find any mention of any FBI official claiming this, but till the time of writing this, inspite of repeated requests, Barkha has not been able to provide any proof.

Now we come to this new defence of being “self -radicalised”. The argument by many is he wasn’t trained or actively radicalised by ISIS, but rather converted into a terrorist on his own, probably under the influence of some social media propaganda material from ISIS. This technicality can be used by some to distance him from ISIS. The obvious logical fallacy is the material spread by ISIS is targetted exactly to create such events, where so-called “lone-wolfs” carry out terror attacks in the name of ISIS, without their direct involvement! In fact ISIS has released videos  and even a 64 page guide explaining how such attacks must be carried out. In fact, such so called “self radicalisation” is an even graver threat than regular ISIS activities because this means just about anyone anywhere who can be brainwashed by social media content of ISIS can turn into a terrorist.

The other issue which some apologists keep harping on is gun control. Case in point, AAP cheerleader Saba Naqvi, who twists and turns to avoid mentioning ISIS or Islamic terror but is quick to blame gun control:

Again it is not a completely invalid argument, US probably needs stricter gun-control rules to prevent the frequently occurring shootings. But not everybody with a gun is likely to go on a rampage. Guns don’t kill people, nut-jobs with guns do. And can religious terrorists ever been stopped by such gun-control laws? The Boston bombers, who were referred to by Mateen and who also cited extremist Islamic beliefs as their motive, used pressure-cooker bombs, not guns. The point being once you get into the deranged zone of being a bigoted terrorist, laws such as gun-control may make it a bit harder, but eventually you will find a way through, either by improvisation or by getting illegal supply of guns. To then place the entire blame of this act on a fringe topic such as gun control is again being an apologist for terror.

The worst arguments have been put forth by some, who are still stuck in the terror-has-no-religion bit:

The ignorance or the deliberate misinformation is frankly unbelievable. Here is an attacker who pledges support to a terror organisation which claims to be religious for all purposes but here we have some individuals with blinkers on who want to say that even though an attacker thinks he is doing it for religious reasons, he is in fact just a “crazy person” who cannot be religious!

The solution to all of this is to make some very rational arguments: ISIS has been finding reasons to shoot people and homophobia is just the latest one. Also, gun control can only help you to an extent because as terrorists have shown, they can kill without guns too (bazinga!). Further, this does not mean that all Muslims are terrorists or radicals or that Islam is beyond redemption. If only we all could say the terrorism in the name of Islam is the key issue here, we could at least move towards solving this issue which seems to be the single biggest threat to the world. Let us not live in a world where we cannot even call out ISIS sponsored or inspired terrorism.

co-founder, OpIndia.com

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