The news this morning was sickening and horrible. At current count 50 people have been killed and 53 injured at a night club in Orlando, FLA. This is the worst mass shooting in U.S. History. I can’t imagine the pain that the families of the victims are feeling right now.
As I watch the news reports of this horribly tragic events unfold – one terribly disturbing thought keeps occurring to me. We are potentially seeing the beginning of ISIS’s electoral strategy.
To be clear: At the time of my writing this, no clear link has been established between ISIS and the shooter (who will remain unnamed in this opinion based article). UPDATE: The shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS.
What is ISIS’s global strategy? It has to do with moving Muslims around the world out of the “grey zone”. The VAST MAJORITY of Muslims want nothing to do with ISIS, radical jihad, terrorism, etc. Most Muslims are content to live in peace with the rest of humanity. ISIS’s goal is to constantly force Muslims to choose between their religious identity and living peacefully in the western world. Their goal is to make moderate Muslims feel unsafe as a result of prejudice. Whenever these attacks occur, fear of Muslims goes up, as do prejudicial actions such as threats, vandalism, and even violence.
Right now there is a presidential candidate campaigning on promises of banning Muslims from the United States and increasing the use of torture and even killing terrorists’ families. What could be better for hate-based extremists such as ISIS, than to have a hate based extremist elected to lead the Western world? I’m not even sure that they need Trump to win, a close election might do enough damage.
The logic goes: if you make more Americans afraid of Muslims, then they will vote for the Demagogue strong-man. Thus making it harder for moderate Muslims to coexist with the West and increasing the recruits available to extremist groups like ISIS.
Lastly, the gunman was not from the Orlando area, that means he chose his target for some reason. It might simply be because the guy is homophobic and the club was a establishment that catered to homosexuals. However, I cannot help but think that Orlando is along Florida’s I-4 corridor, which contains the eight swing counties in a swing state. (Seriously, click on the link and look at the graphic.)
After this attack there will inevitably be polling in the state of Florida regarding voters Clinton vs Trump preferences. In doing so, I think that may provide extremists with the data they need to see if this strategy will work.
Our best defense therefore is this: Don’t let hate motivate our political views. Don’t judge any group by their worst fringe members. Don’t let events like this overcome the better parts of our nature, if we do – then the bad guys win.
Some quick responses to some obvious objections to this post and my theory.
Why would you write this? Isn’t it providing extremists with a road-map for Electing Trump and thus encouraging more violence?
That is a fair critique. However terrorist organizations often do their own in-house analysis. The absolutely excellent and insightful 2005 PBS Documentary “Al-Qaeda’s New Front” pointed out that after the Madrid train bombing it was discovered that Al-Qaeda had been doing sophisticated political analysis. (Link to You Tube Video – the part I am referring to starts at approximately 4:45). This analysis was used to select terror targets (in this case to weaken the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in the Iraq war.) I have no doubt that groups like ISIS have figured out the benefits of increased Trump support to their cause. Indeed, parts of this theory are already being articulated (unfortunately, by Trump supporters). My hope by throwing this out there (for the two or three people who might actually read this on my blog) is that people understand why hatred against Muslims makes us less safe, and add depth to the understanding of why Trump and his kind of thinking is so incredibly dangerous.
Earlier in your blog you blamed the NRA for every mass shooting, is this different?
Nope. The shooter would not have been very effective if armed with a spoon. He had an AR-15. Why on earth should anyone be able to obtain such a powerful weapon? The NRA should own their culpability in aiding terrorists by guaranteeing their access to weapons. UPDATE: The shooter had been investigated twice by the FBI for potential links to terrorism, yet still obtained an assault weapon.
Update: It appears Donald Trump is following the script ISIS is writing for him.