The more that we learn about Omar Mateen, the mass shooter who killed 49 people and injured many more this past weekend at the Pulse dance club in Orlando, the more it becomes clear that he was an unstable and reactionary fanatic with bigoted and homophobic beliefs (despite new reports that he was gay himself), as well as a history of violence against his ex-wife. In other words, he was the kind of person who should have never been permitted to buy any kind of gun, let alone an assault weapon.
Had Mateen not been an Islamic fundamentalist — and it seems increasingly clear that religion was used as a pretext to slaughter dozens of gay men, as reports are now saying he had been a regular at the nightclub for years and was a closeted homosexual — he would have probably fit in with the “alt-right” Donald Trump crowd, considering his reactionary and chauvinistic views (much like Dylann Roof, for instance).
Predictably, this atrocity is now being used to blame and scapegoat the entire religion of Islam by that very movement. On Twitter, Breitbart writer, Trump fanboy, and alt-right spokesman Milo Yiannopoulos wrote:
“NO MORE ISLAM”; “This isn’t terrorism. It isn’t Islamism. It isn’t extremism. This is Islam.”; and, “How many more innocent people have to die before we realise the only answer is to deport them all?”
Like his hero Donald Trump (or as he calls him, “daddy”), Yiannopoulos seems determined to be as inflammatory, bigoted, and obtuse as possible. The writer has no time for nuance, and his scapegoating of all 1.6 billion of the world’s Muslims for the action of one deranged extremist is exactly what the Jihadists across the globe want.
But Yiannopoulos is only a minor figure when compared to Trump, who has made similarly provocative statements since the shooting, accepting congratulations for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism,” and declaring the “he called it and asked for the ban” — even though Mateen was an American citizen born in New York. The Republican presidential candidate also said that there is “something going on” with President Obama, implying that he might be a closet-Muslim — because of his brown skin and and foreign-sounding name, of course — and that he might sympathize with extremists, a conspiracy theory that seems laughable to anyone who follows the Obama administration's hawkish practices, such as the drone program, which has killed many innocent Muslims (one should not expect Trump or his legions to pay attention these details).
Even after a year of listening to Trump’s hateful and mind-numbingly stupid rhetoric, it’s still hard to believe he managed to get his party’s nomination, and his success has very frightening implications for the future of America and the world — especially if he wins in November. And with each tragic terrorist attack and each subsequent response from Trump and his reactionary followers like Yiannopoulos, the demagogue gets closer to the White House and what the Islamic State has termed “the greyzone” begins to erode.
The Islamic State and other Islamic fundamentalists long for a clash of civilizations, and Trump and European fascists — like Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party — seem eager to give it to them. Unwittingly or not, they are playing right into the hands of the fanatics.
For ISIS, the goal is to generate widespread anti-Muslim persecution in the West and provoke western countries into further invading and attacking the Muslim world, in order to undermine and destroy the “greyzone,” where Muslims and westerners coexist peacefully.
“The grayzone is critically endangered, rather on the brink of extinction,” wrote ISIS in its English-language magazine Dabiq, shortly after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. “Its endangerment began with the blessed operations of September 11th, as these operations manifested two camps before the world for mankind to choose between, a camp of Islam – without the body of Khilāfah [a caliphate] to represent it at the time – and a camp of kufr [unbelief] – the crusader coalition.”
The article continues: “The Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostatize and adopt the kufrī [infidel] religion propagated by Bush, Obama, Blair, Cameron, Sarkozy, and Hollande in the name of Islam so as to live amongst the kuffār [infidels] without hardship, or they perform hijrah [emigrate] to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens... Muslims in the crusader countries will find themselves driven to abandon their homes for a place to live in the Khilāfah, as the crusaders increase persecution against Muslims living in Western lands so as to force them into a tolerable sect of apostasy in the name of 'Islam' before forcing them into blatant Christianity and democracy.”
Trump and his supporters equally want to destroy the greyzone. As Yiannopoulos very clearly articulated on Twitter, he believes the religion of Islam — not the political doctrine of Islamism or Jihadism, but the second largest religion in the world — is inherently violent and that all Muslims must be rounded up and deported (next it will presumably be concentration camps). Trump has not advocated deporting Muslims already in America, but his plan to ban Muslims from entering the country is certainly a big step towards cracking down on the civil liberties of the entire religious group.
The Islamic State and Trump empower each other; and while Trump has absolutely no clue how to combat Islamic extremism (indeed, his rhetoric simply helps the extremists) and has proven to be shockingly ignorant on questions of foreign policy, fear is a powerful and contagious emotion, and if he wins in November, he will have Islamic fundamentalists to thank.