Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An All American Massacre

No matter how much the media and ruling class want to paint Omar Mateen as some swarthy jihadi, those pesky facts to the contrary keep surfacing...

Much is being made of Mateen's sexuality, though often in the most wrong ways. Such as how his former classmates at a police academy are saying they always thought he was gay - a story that relates to far more than just Mateen's orientation, but more on that in a moment. Add in his frequenting of gay clubs and his use of Grindr, and Mateen starts to look like other self-loathing homophobes who usually commit all their crimes while in elected office. Attempts to link his pathology to conservative Islam aren't entirely off-base, but only in the way it would equally apply to any of the myriad reactionary strains of Christianity. Mateen's self-hatred, manifesting as a nihilistic jihad of one against all, has many precedents in American culture.

The Mormon Church for example - that most American of churches - generated close to an Orlando body count earlier this year. And it's not an anomaly:

...youth suicides are twice as high in states with the highest levels of Mormon residents compared to states with the lowest levels of Mormon residents.

That no Mormon LGBTQ youth have sought to take others with them, at least on the scale of Orlando, is sheer luck at this point. If you're comfortable thinking that it's because kids can't get their hands on the sort of firepower used by Mateen, you've clearly never heard of Harris and Klebold. Or been through a gun state.

I grew up in a gun state. I fired rifles and shotguns before I was old enough to drive. In more rural areas, kids get their first gun before their first car. And that was still in the relatively civilized DC sprawl of Northern Virginia. Utah, Florida, Texas - all places where being gay is still considered deviant and where guns are the cure for what ails ya. Hell, the entire point of the Pink Pistols is using one of those cultural norms to protect against the other!

But easy access to guns and a homophobic culture that fosters self-loathing still won't lead to a massacre. As Mark Ames demonstrates in his analysis of rage massacres in the first Clinton era and today, gun control alone will not end these killings because of one final ingredient: a truly toxic culture.

This is speculation, but I am relatively certain the seeds for Mateen's shooting were planted not by homophobia - whether from his religion or the dominant American culture - but from his work as a security guard. Just the title, "security guard," for someone it has been established attended a police academy speaks volumes about the trajectory of his life before this past weekend.

Further, there is the homophobia of every such academy in the United States and Mateen's entire vocation. I've never been in a police academy but I've been in a locker room, which was exactly like Stan Goff's description of that pinnacle of the police state, JSOC:

They like sports, pornography, gun culture, video games, alcohol, and misogynist humor.  Gunslinging is dick-swinging – the dare-ya atmosphere we males know well, what I call probative masculinity.

You can call this toxic masculinity if you want. It sure is a popular pejorative, but it obfuscates the deeper and much more structural sources of this brutishness. This particular strain of masculinity, from Goff's former comrades in Tier 1 all the way down to Florida badges, exists in service of a post-industrial capitalist ideology. An ideology championed by Reagen and Clinton and the source of a twenty year upsurge in mass shootings from workplaces to middle class suburbs. One that continues today, in ever more manifestations and driven by further compound bitterness by a culture that sanctifies happiness - and profit - but endeavers to place everything out of reach through ever worsening inequality.

Mateen's rage is the same as Seung-Hui Cho's and Elliot Rodger's, a savage and nihilistic reiteration of Michel Clouscard's brief but penetrating analysis of democratic capitalism: "All is allowed, but nothing is possible."

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