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Method to Madness

As the United States continues its mass shootings and drone strikes in multiple countries, present leadership and wannabe leadership reacted to the Orlando nightclub attack with the usual “act of terror” and “we grieve the brutal murder and horrific massacre of dozens of innocent people” and “we pray for the families.” These clichés are among Obama’s initial statement.

Like all effective U.S. presidents, Obama compartmentalizes. His Kill List is positively bold.

Candidate Hillary Clinton called the Orlando shooting “an act of terror” and an “act of hate” against the LGBT community and said the attacks showed the importance of “defeating international terror groups…” Clinton, supporting stricter oversight of firearms, said, “Weapons of war have no place on our streets.”

For Clinton, weapons of war have a place though. Launched on the Other in countries where the U.S. requires regime change.

Candidate Donald Trump said he’d predicted the attack and crowed about his prescience. Expressing appreciation for the attention and congratulations he’s received, he basked in “being right on radical Islamic terrorism” and eventually veered to: “I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance.”

To Trump, mainstream Muslims are Islamist terrorists.

Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terrorists.

Yet no one among mike-near-the-mouth leadership linked the Orlando rampage to blowback. And perhaps it wasn’t.

According to this article, shooter Omar Mateen regularly patronized the club where he killed and wounded almost 100 people. And he had a profile on a gay dating app. It’s possible Mateen was a self-hating gay man who found it more acceptable to shout “Allahu Akbar” than “I’m gay and angry because I can’t embrace my sexuality.”

Maybe. But it’s more valuable to spin a political incentive and emphasize Mateen’s “Allahu Akbar”—for the fear effect.

Let’s explore this.

Don’t they, the Enforcers, know that violence perpetuates violence? That seizing another country’s resources leads to retaliation? That 9/11 was a message to the U.S., a we-refuse-your-rape-of-our-land-and-people-manifesto? Surely if I understand the connection between U.S. foreign policy and its resultant destructive reprisal, they, leadership, did. If my father said, “We need to examine why we’re hated,” they, leadership, would have.

We can assume they did and do and maybe that’s the point. They want chaos. Want us to be so afraid we’ll acquiesce to expanded militarization, to sweeping surveillance. After all, they’ve said it, said it a gazillion times, said that those terrorists are jealous of our freedoms, jealous of what we stand for, while they, people at the highest levels of government and the candidates that aspire to these positions, in fact, are hellbent on undermining what few freedoms remain. They want the incurious to hate Muslims, to say, “Let’s nuke those fucking ragheads and let God sort it out.”

And, of course, flag-waving nationalists see red, white, and blue stars and stripes, blinded to everything but this and their own eye-for-an-eye viciousness, incurious about who started what.

Violence consumes our culture. It is worshipped.

Lawmakers are engaged in what’s become a pattern, holding moments of silence, saying we have to unite against hatred. Yet as long as the oligarchy demands our scared shitless-ness, the animosity only will intensify. There’s method to this madness.

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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