Over the weekend, an angry, homophobic 27-year old young man walked into a gay and lesbian bar in, Orlando, Florida, and proceeded to blow away innocent patrons in one of the worst acts of domestic, homegrown terrorism on United States soil. When the gun smoke cleared 50 people were dead -- including the shooter - and 50 more wounded, some in very critical state. Within minutes, the mainstream media jumped on his ancestry trying to make the case that a United States born mass murderer, was somehow "radicalized" and pledged his allegiance to ISIL the Muslim group fighting for a caliphate in Iraq and Syria. They did not initially see it as an anti-gay murder motivated by religious fundamentalist beliefs.
Indeed, ALL of the mainstream media appeared to rush to judgment by disregarding the fact that he was born right here and was an American citizen even though his parents were Afghans. And by juxtaposing his actions with his alleged pledging his allegiance to an American designated terror group they tried to make the case that this is not "our fault" and his acts of violence were all done in praise and support of ISIL and Islam. Plus Islam and homosexuality are at odds and killing gays was a badge of honor for martyrs to the Islamic fundamentalist cause.
And all of that is fine and dandy but as President Obama stated that this was and is an act of domestic terrorism that might have been inspired -- not directed -- by ISIL. Moreover, the attempt by the media to "segregate the violence" as somehow being "un-American" and therefore an aberration is aimed at "demonizing" the violence by "others" in American society. But there is no one path to violence and radical Islam is but only one such path.
In the United States domestic terrorists have run the gamut from high school dropouts, college graduates, active and former military personnel, disgruntled neo-racists, anti-government extremists, militiamen, and religious zealots. Indeed, America's homegrown terrorists reflect American society in general and this latest Muslim terrorist apparently angered by a society that is defined by its diversity and open freedom sought to undermine this basic fact of American society. And there is no one cause or grievance that sparks these individuals and groups to commit acts of mass murder.
Many are the triggers of domestic terrorism here in the United States. There's the issue of disgruntlement with the federal government, employers and a lack of opportunities for any meaningful and engaging political engagement. And of course, there is the access to easy guns that the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other Second Amendment groups would have us believe that this is not, at least part of the problem. That this killer was able to legally purchase a high-powered assault rifle that is used and more suitable in theaters of war, large capacity magazines, lots of rounds of ammunition, and "back up" hand guns, speak volumes about our system of access to firearms that is defensively morphed into somehow "our right to bear arms."
It is my educated conclusion that instances of homegrown terrorism would be greatly minimized, not completely eradicated from society, if procurement of guns were more difficult and less easy to come by. Heck, it's easier to buy a gun at a gun show than some prescription medicines. Homegrown terrorism, like the kind that occurred in, Orlando, Florida, was simply the violent acts committed by individuals or groups right here in America "against their own people," either with or without foreign influence, in an effort largely designed to instill fear in the government and populace. These efforts could be politically motivated or issue related (like anti-abortion terrorists).
Therefore, the first challenge for America today is that domestic terrorism is not easy to combat or spot and will become more sophisticated and use technology in the future. There is only so much law enforcement and intelligence can do. The reason is that domestic terrorists are motivated by radicalization on the Internet -- in their own homes - while others still have been exposed to radical Islam by visits overseas and have returned to "the Great Satan" to carry out their grisly acts.
second challenge is that radical Islam is incompatible with United States laws.
Let me begin by defining the word "radical" in this context as opposed to what
I will call "traditional" Islam.
By this literal definition and understanding, it can be deduced that for "radical" Muslims obeying the laws and norms of United States life is contrary to their fundamentalist beliefs. Radical Islam is built on archaic, backward and outmoded forms of socio-economic and political practices that can only be described as primitive by today's standards. Rabid misogyny, wife beating, female genital mutilation, stoning to death of daughters and wives for fornication or for simply being in a vehicle without a male family member present or for numerous other conducts the male Muslim community perceives as in violation of strict Islamic law, strikes reasonable people as simply barbaric, outdated and, well, stupid.
But radical Muslims practice these abhorrent behaviors each and every day, not in the United States, but in places where those "laws and practices" still exist like Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. And the fact that Americans condemn these acts while supporting and respecting progressive, people-centered traditional Muslims who reject these outmoded and moribund practices has generated hatred and ill will against Americans.
Homegrown terrorists, the kind radicalized by this strict and warped interpretation of Islam, are driven by a dangerous brew of martyrdom, hatred for the American way of life, and the need to strike fear in the hearts of the American people. Osama bin Laden gleefully said after 9/11 that "America will never be the same." And Dr. Cornell West famously made the point that now "white people know how it feels to be a n***er in the United States."
So now we hear about this is another instance of "radical Islamic terrorism." We hear the same mainstream media attempting to distance American society from the incident as not being partially responsible for the creation of such terrorists. They do not label it "Christian terrorism" when "good Christians" commit mass murder. Even while making the case for domestic terrorism the mainstream media still engages in acts of involuntary racism. Adolf Hitler was not called "a Christian terrorist" or all of those other Christians on the long list of historical terrorism. Muslims are "the face" of terrorism today but they do not have a monopoly on religious violence.
So in the context of the uninformed American society still ignorant about the different forms of Islam I offer this simple explanation. It's important to point out some, though not all, of these differences between "Radical" and "Fundamentalist" Islam and Traditional Islam. Let me start from the fact that today in 2016 radicalized Islamists have killed thousands of ordinary, peace-loving traditionalist members of Islam. Most American Muslim -- 99.99 percent of them - communities are easygoing, peace loving and productive. Indeed, Central Florida is home to over 100,000 Muslims that have live in peace and harmony with other peoples, races and ethnic minorities in that community.
Radical Islam focuses on Jihad, especially its external military meanings. Jihad plays a lesser, or more internal, role within mainstream Islamic thought. Not coincidentally, this leads "radical" Islam to more aggressive interpretations of Sharia Law to justify the use of force against so-called "infidels" as well as ordinary Muslims. The upshot is that "radical" Islam does not only confront the non-Muslim Western nations, its main enemy, but it also strongly criticizes and fights the perceived "hypocrisy" among fellow Muslims who govern Muslim nations and who profess to be Muslim but do not meet the "fundamentalist" expectations of pure and intense devotion to Islam, Sharia law, and archaic practices.
Finally, radical Islam also differs in its history from traditional Islam in many other ways. Historically, Islam began in the 7th century and spread rapidly and is today over one billion strong. However, historians believe that the religion splintered during medieval times and again during 19th and 20th century modern periods. These splits gave rise to fundamentalist Islam that took shape in modern times is a product of a neo-modernist reinterpretation of Islam in the context of a post-colonial period dominated by western conquests and rules. In this context, radical Islam clung on to its fundamentalist practices and roots of its early origins and traditions creating a warped modern day product and phenomenon.