Within hours of the Orlando massacre that occurred early Sunday morning, veteran academic and prolific writer Mary Grabar predicted on her Facebook wall that “liberal pundits” would soon enough be “linking the Orlando shooting [at a gay nightclub] to other instances of homophobia, such as Harvey Milk and the Stonewall riots.”
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS), continued Grabar, would get busy planning a documentary entitled “‘Homophobia in America,’” a film that will show how the Christian origins of homophobia “infected American culture, how ‘migrants’ from places like Afghanistan, alienated and bewildered by an Islamophobic American culture, picked up the homophobia and ‘hate,’” and “how in desperation they turned to violence, taking advantage of lax gun laws….”
Most of this prediction has already come to pass. Few of us will be surprised if it all comes to fruition soon enough.
Dr. Grabar’s point is well taken: “Liberals,” i.e. the left, can always be counted upon to regurgitate their tired stock phrases, clichés that, however logically irrelevant to the issues at hand, have proven to be politically useful.
This time, however, their talking points aren’t just irrelevant. They aren’t just ridiculous.
They are offensive.
A self-sworn Islamic jihadist pledges his allegiance to ISIS and then drives over 100 miles from his home to shoot up a gay nightclub. Immediately prior to killing at least 50 people and critically injuring over 50 more, he screams: “Allah hu Akbar!” The notion that this is an instructive lesson in the need for Americans to support more “gun-control” is offensive.
It is both intellectually and morally offensive.
In fact, it borders on the perverse.
The Islamic State has long been calling for “lone wolf” attacks throughout the West, promising that “we will strike you in your homeland [.]”
“Do not ask for anyone’s advice,” said an ISIS spokesman, “and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the infidel, whether he is civilian or military.”
The Orlando massacre may very well be the biggest “mass shooting” in American history. But to bill it only as such reflects at once an aversion to truth and, doubtless, a desire for political self-aggrandizement. To throw this event under the umbrella heading of “mass shooting” suggests, and is meant to suggest, that the killer, Omar Mateen, has more in common with the likes of Adam Lanza (of Sandy Hook infamy) and the killers of Columbine than he shares with Osama bin Liden and Muhammad Adnani, the ISIS mouthpiece who has been calling forth the Mateens of the West.
Confucius sheds some much needed light here. “If language is not correct,” he taught his disciples, “then what is said is not what is meant [.]” Yet this in turn means that “what must be done remains undone,” and, consequently, “morals and art will deteriorate” and “justice” will go “astray [.]”
This teaching is known as “the Rectification of Names.” If ever there was a violation of it, the ascription of “mass shooting” to the Orlando massacre is it.
What happened in Orlando is a case—but another case—of Islamic terrorism.
More importantly, it is the deadliest such case to have occurred on American soil second only to that of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Even the left-leaning Huffington Post acknowledges that “Islamic terrorism” is a more accurate label for the Orlando massacre when it correctly notes that it is no “coincidence” that this attack occurred during the Islamic holiday of Ramadan.
From the time of Plato and Aristotle through the middle Ages to the Catholic Church in the present, a distinction has always been maintained between two types of characteristics: “essential” and “accidental.” For example, snow, say, is essentially cold. It is only accidentally white (or yellow, or black, etc.). A person is essentially rational, but only accidentally white, black, six feet tall, 250 pounds, and so forth.
The essential attribute of a thing is that which makes it the thing that it is. Take away an object’s essence, you take it away. A thing’s identity is its essence.
This paradigm is not perfect. In light of it, though, we can better grasp the significance of Orlando:
This mass murder is essentially an act of terror, and Omar Mateen is essentially an Islamic terrorist. Moreover, he isn’t just a terrorist who happens to be Islamic. By virtue of his allegiance to ISIS and his affirmation of Allah just seconds before opening fire, he is an Islamic terrorist.
On the other hand, he is accidentally a gunman. This mass murder is accidentally a mass shooting.
What this means is that the means by which Mateen achieved his ends are ultimately neither metaphysically nor morally relevant to the nature of the end itself. The nature of the act is determined by the motive of the actor and the objective of the act itself. Mateen wanted to slay infidels, in this case, gays, for the sake of glorifying his God. That he chose guns to realize this goal no more makes this event a gun matter than the fact that the 19 hijackers of 9/11 chose box cutters and airplanes to slay infidels for the sake of glorifying the same God made that horrific event a teaching moment about the dangers of box cutters and airplanes.
The Orlando massacre was, essentially, the second deadliest terrorist attack in American history.
In this election year, though President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats won’t approve, perhaps we should start referring to this act of Islamic terror for what it is.
Maybe we can start calling it “6/12.”