Orlando and Beyond
If you didn't know already, there was recently a terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12th, 2016. Pulse nightclub was a popular gay bar in Orlando, and many were present for the beginning of pride week. The shooter, Omar Mateen, lived a troubled, suspicious, yet strangely public life. What caused him to walk into Pulse that evening and open fire at 300 innocent civilians is still unclear. A few things to note: Omar pledged allegiance to ISIS during the shooting over a 911 call, whether he was in contact with any ISIS members is unclear. Omar Mateen was also suspected of being gay by many people who knew him. Lastly, Omar Mateen did not have a history of mental illness and lived a rather normal life. That is, however, until he killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub, perpetrating the largest mass shooting in US history.
This hub was made in part for the Q&A thread question asked by Jack Li, which asked the question "who carries the responsibility for the Orlando Attacks" I decided to put in my two cents. Hopefully you will learn something and enjoy.
Omar's Life, Problems and Motives
Early Life: Bullying and Bullied
Looking at Omar's record, we see a man who seemed to be troubled by an intense inferiority complex. Omar's early life was described to be embarrassing and troubled. Although he seemed to have an overall normal childhood in Florida, Omar was always a bully. In the 4th and 5th grades, Omar acted superior to others and was troublesome for teachers.
Although this may sound cliched and said too many times, bullies reflect qualities they are deprived of in their bullying or things that they perceive are wrong about themselves. For example, a bully may say to people "you have no friends" when in reality it is just a reflection of their insecurity and lack of social skills or friends of their own.
So what I take from the fact that Omar had problems in elementary school of acting condescending and superior to others, is that Omar perceived himself as inferior. One reason for this could possibly be the fact that he was Muslim in a very non-Muslim community. Omar was described as one of the only kids of Afghan descent in his district and was bullied for this reason (as well as his weight).
Sources have said that Omar acted very disassociated with his Islamic heritage and was very defensive when the subject of religion was brought up. One such outburst of this kind was documented at his police academy barbecue, where Omar said that he was allergic to pork, and couldn't eat anything off the grill.
Omar's family was Muslim and they had roots in Afganistan, but their religious life in America only really involved festivals and holidays. He was a very moderate Muslim, yet still a Muslim, and therefore got bullied for it.
“He was eccentric,” Justin Delancy (who said he rode the school bus with Mateen for several years) said. “He was just one of those guys that people wanted to bully because he was a pushover. He’d try to get a seat [on the bus]. Couldn’t get a seat. Someone would slap him on the back of his head. He’d try to joke and laugh and make fun of himself to get the attention off of himself. But it didn’t work.”
This kind of self-depreciation can be an indication of many things, like for humor or humility, or for guilt or perhaps even as an apology. But the most likely scenario was that Omar Mateen had a severe self-esteem problem.
This ties into the whole deal with bullies reflecting what they feel are lacking in life and the whole deal with Omar's inferiority complex (which Omar acts on more in his adult life).
A Life Plagued by an Inferiority Complex:
If Omar's early life was to be characterized by his experiences of getting bullied, bullying and developing a dangerous inferiority complex, then his adult life was acting on those experiences, while also slowly leading a stranger and stranger life.
In response to getting bullied, because he was a chubby kid, Omar tried to become a police officer. In response to having confusion about his sexuality and his masculinity, Omar became overly macho and masculine to compensate. And in response to getting bullied over his religion that he really didn't even follow that devoutly, Omar became radicalized by ridicule.
Let's start with his tenure in the police academy, his struggles with sexuality and masculinity and his physical transformation. From 2002-2006, Omar worked place to place, doing all sorts of odd jobs, including being a sales associate at Hollister Clothing and General Nutrition Center (GNC). Margaret Barone, his manager at GNC said that most people who worked with him, including herself just assumed that he was gay.
Margaret also recalls Omar Mateen's rigorous physical transformation that led to his introduction to the police academy. Omar started taking massive steroids and other supplements, and in no time he was huge.
With this radical physical change came a change in goals as well. Omar perceived himself as a buff police officer, armed and strong, and he was ready to achieve his goal at all costs. Initially, things were looking up for Omar, and in October of 2006, he "swore to uphold the Constitution". This success and hope, however, was short-lived, since in April of 2007 he was discharged for making threats about bringing guns onto the campus.
Later that year, Omar began working as a security guard for London G4S, a large security company that supplied its employees guns. At this point, Omar had become what his inferiority complex thought was admirable, a massive bodybuilder packing a gun.
Unable to Come to Terms with Himself:
Later, in 2009, Omar Mateen got married to Sitora Yusifiy, a New Jersey real estate agent who he met through an online dating service. They were both Muslims, but Sitora described Omar as a very loose and reformed Muslim, who preferred to work out instead of pray. It wasn't long before Omar started physically abusing her. Omar would beat her with an open hand and pull her hair over just about anything. They went their separate ways after 9 months of a turbulent marriage.
In 2011, just a quarter year after Omar's and Sitora's divorce papers were final, Omar married another woman he met online, Noor Zahi Salman. Salman's marriage to Omar started out very similar to his first. They were a moderate Muslim family, fasting for Ramadan and occasionally going to the mosque. However, Omar's and Salman's was more successful in the long run. During this time, Omar became more devout in his dedication to Islam and made two pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia in 2011 and 2012.
What were the reasons for these very sudden and unorthodox marriages and changes to his lifestyle? I think the answer lies in his father.
It has been widely documented that people thought of Omar as gay. He would go out to nightclubs with friends and Omar would sometimes make approaches that could be taken as sexual. Omar also frequented gay-specific dating websites like Jack'd and was interested in gay culture. His father Seddique Mateen could've taken notice of his activities, and if he had even the slightest suspicion that Omar was gay, it would've ended very badly for Omar.
Seddique Mateen was very vocal and very conservative in his approach to homosexuality. He posted a video on his facebook page saying: “God himself will punish those involved in homosexuality. This is not for the servants (of god)” Indicating a clear opposition to homosexuality.
Pushed over the Edge:
All in all, I believe a two things led him down the path of radical extremism and homophobia. The first reason was his experiences in his early life, the silent shunning of his and his Islamic roots, and his chubby physical appearance. The fact that he was a target for bullying and eventually came to the point where he was bullying people himself raises some red flags itself. Although these issues within himself seemed to be resolved by his later life, since getting bulked up and being a security guard with a gun seemed to put him in a position of power, it was evident that Omar was still disturbed by his sexuality and masculinity.
Omar was most likely attracted to the same sex, yet couldn't express it that much due to his strict father. I personally think this is what drove Omar over the edge. Your parents are the people you look up to from the day you are born, they're the ones who are supposed to give you unconditional love and support through good and bad. To have someone in that position in your life suspect you of being a heretic to your religion and possibly threaten to disown you due to something that you can't do a thing about is heartbreaking. This is probably what drove him to pursue seemingly impulsive marriages online.
This is probably what drove him to pursue seemingly impulsive marriages online. Omar's goal in his later life was probably to prove his masculinity and perhaps sexuality his father through getting married to an Islamic woman, something he didn't want to do.
The extremism came afterwards. In order to prove one last thing to his father, his devotion to his religion, he became more and more religiously involved and even stated to be a member of multiple extremist groups.
In this perversion of dedication to his father, combined with his own mental state becoming more and more unstable due to this, Omar Mateen became the killer who sought final retribution by killing 49 people in a gay bar.
What Does this Mean for America?
So, what does this mean for America? Well, this means a couple of things. First of all, this is a win for ISIS and other Islamic Extremist groups, to have a person who lived largely in the public view commit a lone wolf attack for ISIS is a big gain for them. This sort of fear and hysteria is just the sort of thing terrorists need to sustain their organizations. America is going to be in a state of fear and heightened security for a while, but that will die down in time. What remains to be seen is the approval of laws that will protect the world from terrorism and hate crimes in the future. Politicians will argue about anything, even if there is no use in arguing about it.
New debates over gun control will start up again, and the unavoidable question will be raised: "is it the gun that kills people or the person behind it?" But, like many other tragedies, not much progress will be made in this field, due to the power of the hard-line Republican filibuster.
Speaking of politics, this recent attack gives more ammunition for Donald Trump. With this so-called "evidence" of Muslims being bad, Donald Trump's message will strike a chord with many more Americans, and will gain more public following and approval. People will start to think "maybe this guy is right, maybe he has a point banning all Muslims from coming in the country". Which will, in turn, get more people to support his other ideas like building a wall to Mexico.
Donald Trump will also get people to view Muslims in a poorer light. People will begin to subconsciously think that Muslims are bad and start to have aversions to them. People will change their ideas about Islam, and ostracize Muslims. But, all this will only work against us in the fight against terrorism, because the very insults that made Omar Mateen do the things he did will become the slogans of today's political landscape.
You cannot take the actions of an individual as the actions of an entire group of people, for that is the heart of racism. Islamophobia will only serve to aid the radical extremists abroad with mass fear and turn some of the Muslims in America against their country. Forget the politics, make some laws that will actually protect our country from terrorism and the fear the comes with it.
© 2016 Michael Tu