By Dr David Laing Dawson
I will try to do something I shouldn’t do with so little information. Understand Omar Mateen. I will try to do this in an attempt to counter the glib labels, the quick rhetoric based on anger and political need.
Here is what we know:
Omar was raised by an Afghan immigrant family. His father was grandiose and homophobic, a Mujaheen fighter who promoted himself to general years later. Omar had a troubled childhood and adolescence according to school records. He was identified early on as an angry and violent troublemaker. But he married, had a child, beat his wife regularly. Her family rescued her from him. He acquired another, second young wife of Palestinian origin, again through an internet connection. He was not particularly devout. He drank a fair bit. He worked as a security guard and wanted to be a police officer. He took selfies that display an excessive narcissism and attention to appearance.
He became a patron of a gay club, attended drag shows, he may have been a regular. He may or may not have expressed disgust to his father about homosexuality.
Lately, at least, he attended a mosque several times a week. He spent enough time looking at radical Islamic websites and talking about this to alert the FBI twice. He had easy access to serious weapons.
He was a confused, lost, angry man. He was probably gay or had homosexual yearnings that would have disgusted his father and perhaps himself.
He was a man seeking answers or an answer for his self-loathing, his anger, his failures. Unfortunately he found a single answer and acted upon it.
We don’t know if he had a treatable mental illness. We do know he was a Muslim who had, at least, gay yearnings, violent tendencies, excess narcissism, drank alcohol, failed in his relationships, had easy access to weapons, and access to toxic websites proposing violence and martyrdom.
- Probably loathed himself for his homosexual yearnings.
- Angry and lost, narcissistic.
- Found an answer in martyrdom.
- Easy access to automatic weapons.
- On the FBI watch list.
- Chose a target in line with his own self-loathing and extreme Islamic teaching.
Are there lessons in any of this? How do we prevent a re-occurrence?
- Continue to try to eliminate homophobia by education, demonstration.
- Ensure effective mental health services are available for children and teens.
- Muslim leaders must be as clear as possible that these kinds of actions are abhorrent. They should be specifically clear they don’t believe in martyrdom or rewards for such in the afterlife. Rather than vague statements about Islam being a religion of peace they need to specifically denounce those passages of the Koran that appear to sanction violence.
- The FBI needs to look for any red flags they might have missed.
- The world needs to isolate and defeat ISIS but in doing so not create fertile ground once again for an angry radical group to emerge.
- We need to look at counter measures to fight their slick impressive videos and calls to arms.
- But, again, in this list there is but one action that could specifically reduce killings in relatively short order. And that is GUN CONTROL. There is no reason on earth a civilian should own a combat weapon. I don’t think there is any reason a civilian should own a gun period. But at least let’s start with eliminating those weapons that can kill so many people so easily and quickly.
It is not a matter of good gun owners or bad gun owners. Any owner of an automatic weapon, if not intent on using it some day, fantasizes about using it. Let’s get rid of them.