By Fazal Rahman, Ph.D. June 17, 2016
This is a rather brief and necessary comment on the recent Orlando, Florida, mass shootings, as some of the underlying causal facts and connections are being omitted from consideration by almost everyone else.
Like in the case of San Bernardino, California, shootings, the role of religious and racist discrimination is being covered up and almost completely downplayed in the Orlando, Florida, mass shootings by Omar Mateen, a US-born Muslim of Afghan origins, at a gays night club, Pulse, by the mass media, legal and political authorities, and the general public. There have only been very brief mentions of such discriminations, which Mateen reported to have suffered, in various news reports and discussions, without relating these to his reported anger and actions at Pulse.
Mateen had graduated in 2006 from Indian River Community College with a degree in criminal justice technology. In 2015, Mateen wanted to attend a police academy at Indian River State College to become a police officer, but his application was denied. He then complained to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that he was rejected because of his being a Muslim. Instead of investigating his complaint, the department referred his complaint back to the same academy that had rejected his application.
Earlier, his coworkers had reported him to the FBI for having made comments in support of Al-Qaida and some other groups, like Hezbollah, which the US has declared terrorist organizations. During FBI investigations, Mateen told them that he made such statements in anger and in response to the discrimination that he was suffering at the workplace. FBI did not find any evidence of his connections to any terrorist organizations and, obviously, accepted his explanation.
These are documented and reported, albeit extremely downplayed and ignored, facts. However, it is very likely that the discriminations Mateen suffered played a big role in the development of his anger, which he, ironically, took out on numerous other victims of discrimination in this society, the homosexuals. Some black survivors of the massacre have reported that he told them that he was sparing their lives because they have already suffered enough in this society. This also indicates that he identified with them as victims of discrimination.
Racism and discrimination are also extremely destructive professional-economic and other forms of violence by the politico-economically dominant class/race, and have destroyed the lives and careers of hundreds of millions of human beings in history. In the US, only their forms have changed, which continue to inflict various forms of devastating damages on countless minorities. With very rare exceptions, various government agencies-including the so-called US Department of Justice-, courts, law enforcement establishments, private businesses and corporations, other institutions, as well as the so-called equal opportunity officialdoms are saturated with the cross-institutional clones, who collaborate with each other in denying justice completely to the minorities or making it extremely hard for them to obtain even a fraction of it. In the US, no other crime is treated so callously and lightly as that of racism and discrimination. Even if Mateen’s complaint of discrimination had been investigated properly, it is very doubtful that it would have achieved anything, regardless of its merits. In general, members of the dominant class/race, and their innumerable employees (which also include chimerical phony minorities) in various institutions of the system and society, have no empathy with the victims of discrimination, are infected with the classist-racist mass psychology, try their best to find the slightest technical or other pretext to dismiss the cases of discrimination, and fail to understand or relate to the depth and intensity of anger and revulsion, which racism and discrimination produce in the victims. In overwhelming majority of cases, computers can probably make fairer decisions than such robotized “humans”. Victims handling of the psychological, professional-economic, and other damages caused by such highly institutionalized and widespread discriminatory mass psychology and actions of the officialdom, and their actions in relation to these, are variable, which, in some cases, may manifest themselves in extreme actions, like that of Mateen.
Although, there have been a lot of rumors, gossips, and speculations in the media about the possibility of Mateen having been a closet homosexual himself and its role in the hate crime-which is highly unlikely-, I have not seen any reports that relate his experiences of suffering discrimination and workplace harassment to his anger and the violent actions that he unleashed at the gays nightclub, Pulse, even though the importance of that connection is self-evident. Is everyone collaborating with the establishment to cover up and downplay that connection because it points to the inherent and widespread racism and discrimination in this society and its various public and private institutions? Whatever the reason for such huge omission, speculative and conjured up causes and connections are being substituted for the real causes and connections. It is extremely unlikely that his hatred of homosexuals alone caused him to jump over the edge. There are innumerable people who, for one reason or another, have extreme forms of hatred against the homosexuals. Pastor Steven Anderson in Arizona and Pastor Roger Jimenez in California are just two of them and have been openly expressing their happiness about the slaughter of so many homosexuals at Pulse by Mateen. They also quote passages from the Bible that require killings of the homosexuals. However, the homophobics, no matter how extreme their hatred, do not go around slaughtering them. There must have been additional personal and social factors, which got associated with and compounded Mateen’s hatred and anger against the homosexuals. These factors were related to his experiences of discrimination and, very likely, his anger at the US military actions in many Muslim countries, including Afghanistan. This hypothesis can be stated as following:
“Mateen had some inherent or culturally-religiously produced hatred against homosexuality and homosexuals, which became associated with his anger at being subjected to discrimination by the police academy and harassment at his workplace, as well as with his rage at the American military actions in many Muslim countries. Being unable to do anything about those factors, his multiplied rage became associated with and focused on homosexuals, pushing him over the edge and leading to the slaughter at the Pulse Nightclub.”
If Mateen had been given the opportunity of becoming a law enforcement officer, which he tried in 2015, he would be enforcing the laws against crimes and terrorism, instead of becoming the worst perpetrator of mass shootings in US history, and he and his numerous victims would still be alive and uninjured. Also, if he really identified with international non-state terrorism, he would not have tried to become a law enforcement officer in the US. He was stuck in a dead-end security guard job, which he tried to get out of by becoming a law enforcement officer, but could not, because of what he felt was religious discrimination against him.
As far as statements of some of his coworkers about his belligerency are concerned, these seem to be one-sided, without revealing their own role, or that of some others, in provoking that behavior. Cold-blooded discriminatory harassment can easily produce hot-blooded reactions, like Mateen’s, due to different cultural and psychological constitutions of the interactors. The same can be said about the statements of his ex-wife, who is labeling him as insane, unstable, and violent towards her. What about his second wife? What does she say about him? Their marriage seems to have lasted and they seem to have been a compatible couple. All these one-sided and demonizing condemnations are being published and paraded repeatedly and endlessly by all the mass media. It is not my intention to defend Mateen’s character. I did not know him. I am merely pointing out the possible reasons for the behaviors attributed to him, as well as the very likely selective omission of facts by the narrators, and the illogical and unfair one-sidedness of all the filth that is being dug out and thrown at the dead man, who cannot respond to it. For whatever reason, the man went over the edge and committed a horrible hate crime, killing 50 and injuring 53 people. That is beyond question. He was able to do all that, alone, all by himself. During the massacre, he was also able to communicate with his wife and the police on his cell phone, keeping his cool and not losing his mind. That is extremely extraordinary, to say the least. As mentioned above, that hate crime was compounded and triggered by some other factors. However, to selectively and one-sidedly demonize all his life prior to that action is totally irrational and unjustifiable. It is relevant to mention that Mateen had no criminal record prior to his actions at Pulse. According to the published information, he had only a minor traffic violation in his records.
I had written a comprehensive report on the problems of racism and discrimination in the US, which can be accessed through the following link:
Downplaying and ignoring such causal connections, as mentioned above, in such violent crimes prevent the accurate identification of their real causes and the effective actions to reduce their recurrence. Almost everyone is trapped in the hysteria of terrorism and jumps to associate such incidents with that, disregarding and omitting other important and relevant factors that may actually have played a much bigger role. If the purpose of analyses is to arrive at truth of the matters involved, one must try to be as objective and comprehensive as possible and include all the various known factors and facts, their connections, and interactions in them.