A Progressive Conundrum

Before delving into the heart of this article, I should note that what happened in Orlando was awful. No one should be targeted because of who they are, who they love, what they look like, or who they pray to. It is important that the victims as well as the injured who are fighting for their lives are kept in everyone’s thoughts and prayers.

The massacre at Pulse Nightclub has presented a dilemma for progressives who tend to see the world through a victim/victimizer, oppressed/oppressor dichotomy.  For the first time in recent memory, a member of an “oppressed” group attacked, slaughtered, and massacred people belonging to another.  No matter how it is spun, Omar Mateen was a radicalized Muslim terrorist. Somehow, despite his own professions of his extremist views, even calling the police in the middle of his killing spree to proclaim his acting on the behalf of ISIS was not enough to convince some that this was more than an attack inspired by homophobia and easy access to guns. This has presented a true conundrum for progressives and other intense liberals who resoundingly have chosen to make this a Second Amendment issue as opposed to a radical Islamic issue.

It goes without saying that the majority of Muslims are not terrorists. The reason it is called “radical Islam” or “Muslim extremism” is precisely because it falls out of the mainstream Islamic view of things. Perhaps no one embodies this more than Noor Dahri, a British and Pakistani Muslim who consistently goes out of his way not only to promote peace between Islam and Judaism, but between Islam and every faith in the world.  He does this despite being targeted through social media by anti-Semites and anti-Zionists calling him a “Zionist proxy.” On top of that, there is obviously a distinction between moderate, traditional Islam, and the puritanical, violent form adopted by jihadist terrorists from Africa to Asia and America.

When news of the shooting first broke yesterday, or more accurately, the identity of the shooter became known, many turned their anger and attention to the gun issue in this country.  America has more guns than any other nation and its not even close. Getting a gun in America is also easier than many other countries, so many, especially progressives were quick to call for stricter gun laws, if not outright bans.  While that anger is understandable, my question to those progressives is this, what would your feelings be if Mateen had used a suicide belt and killed 50 people, or stabbed those people?  Would the condemnations instead be targeted at his ideology?

As I am not a Progressive I will not seek to answer on their behalf, however I believe they would still have a hard time condemning radical Islam.  This same ideology drove the 9/11 hijackers, the Sarona Market shooters, and every other radical Islamic terrorist since the times of Ibn Taymiyyah in 1328.  I do not believe that anger towards Second Amendment advocates was unjustified, but maybe partially misplaced.

Going hand in hand with that was the anger being hurled at those on the Christian Right, who have proposed hundreds of bills that limit the civil rights of those in the LGBT community.  A popular tweet was by Chase Strangio, an attorney for the LGBT & AIDS Project of the ACLU.  The tweet read, “The Christian Right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months and people blaming Islam for this. No. #PulseNightclub.”  chase-strangio-orlando-terror-tweetYes, the Christian Right is certainly no friend of the LGBT community, but a reasonable person cannot draw moral equivalency between prohibiting marriage of gays and lesbians, and an ideology that explicitly calls for their murder.  Two weeks before the Orlando massacre, an Orlando Imam included this ruling when discussing homosexuality, “Death is the sentence. We know. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about this. Death is the sentence.”  A sad reality of the world is that the extreme right in most religions do not take a favorable view of homosexuality, which is truly unfortunate. However, in only one instance does that unfavorable view result in a horrific massacre, and that is radical Islam and the Muslim right. That may explain why there were multiple celebratory tweets praising Mateen’s actions, all from radical Muslims. If Chase Strangio and his compatriots see prohibiting marriage as the exact same — or worse — as a license to kill homosexuals, then that is a major problem within the progressive community; the fear of labeling something an act of Islamic terror.

There are 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Countries, and a decent number of them either have sharia as an official legal code, or have sections of the country where sharia is the legal norm.  In those nations, seeing homosexuals shot, beheaded, tortured, imprisoned, or burned alive is not far from the norm, because of the ideology underlying the laws.

Again, what happened in Orlando was horrific and horrible, and the American Muslim community has done an outstanding job condemning it.  There is reason to be upset at the gun lobby which consistently frustrates proposed legislation making it harder to buy guns, but guns don’t shoot people, people do.  If Omar Mateen couldn’t get a gun, who is to say he wouldn’t have used a suicide belt to carry out his twisted ideological goals?

And herein we have the progressive conundrum.  Muslims who attack Americans or Israelis are given a pass because they are the perceived victim rising up against their victimizer.  The MSNBC reporter in Israel, Ayman Mohyeldin got on TV hours after the Sarona massacre and excused the terrorists’ actions as being due to “Palestinian frustration.” Many agreed, even Ban Ki Moon, who has said Palestinian actions are reasonable due to occupation (which doesn’t even exist). Progressives can easily round that circle as an oppressed group taking action against the oppressor. Orlando is different.  Two oppressed groups were involved, one targeting the other, and the majority on the left has chose to focus on the gun aspect of it, choosing to ignore the radical Islam part of it, which is the key player here.  Mateen did not target Americans as whole, he chose a subset of the American population which did not fit in with his radical Islamic traditions.

Blaming the gun lobby in Congress is wholly in bounds, they made it easy for someone on an FBI watch list to obtain multiple firearms, but the blame can not stop there.  We can not ignore the radical Islamic part of this because if we do, and if we do not make an attempt to root out and destroy the ideology underlying it, we will never win this war.  To those who say you can’t fight an ideology, I disagree.  Look at Nazism, that was defeated through overwhelming military force and has been relegated to near-powerlessness in Europe.  Another target of many on the left was the “socio-economic factors” that push people to become radicalized.  Do they forget that Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, and actually got his start in terrorism in the funding aspect, transferring millions to Mujaheddin before he ever aimed his guns at the West? Progressives and their bedfellows on the far left are facing a conundrum here, how to place the blame for the horrific massacre at Pulse Nightclub, and I truly believe that placing the blame squarely on guns and leaving out the radical Islam aspect is an extremely dangerous position. There is no rule that blame has to be mutually exclusive.

We should all keep the wounded as well as those who were senselessly killed at Pulse in our prayers.

About the Author
Saul Mangel, a writer based in Netanya, specializes in international relations, the defense industry, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Originally from Philadelphia, Mr. Mangel holds a bachelor's degree in political science. While working at a leading intelligence firm in Israel, Mr. Mangel will continue to contribute to the Times of Israel.
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