[ by Charles Cameron — on the variety of possible motives ]
On twitter alone, there’s far too much going on as we scramble to understand the Orlando massacre for anyone to make a useful summary, although I must say that Rukmini Callimachi‘s twitter feed since yesterday has been superb. My own first assortment of relevant tweets focuses on the question of motive, but even with that narrowed focus it’s too extensive to present visually tweet by tweet, so I’m mostly going to post relevant texts with links. First, though, I’ll let Jeffrey Goldberg set the overview:
Yaroslav Trofimov, Orlando killer’s ex-wife says he was a wife-beater with a short fuse who liked to work out and wasn’t religious.
CBSN, It is definitely mental illness…no one ever expected that he would do this.
Mental illness or mental instability may arguably be present in many or all cases of rampage shooting, suicide bombing, etc — it’s a judgment call, and one most properly made by psychiatric or psychological professionals who have observed and interacted with the subjects personally. Sadly, however, continued use of this explanation as the explanation for acts of this kind avoids recognition of other factors in what is inevitably a multifactorial situation — and also contributes to the popular misperception that “mental illness” is a shameful failure of character rather than a complex of medical conditions.
Susceptibility to violence:
Lilith, Was Orlando shooter’s domestic violence history a missed warning sign?
JM Berger, Orlando gunman tied to radical imam released from prison last year, say law enforcement sources
Program On Extremism, Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS, official says
Mona Holland, His father says he wasn’t religious, but was furious abt 2 gay men kissing a week or so ago in public
Murtaza Hussain, “Ty Smith & Chris Callen recalled the eventual killer being escorted drunk from the Pulse bar on multiple occasions”
Matt Pearce, “Do you think he was gay?” The shooter’s ex-wife was silent for three seconds. “I don’t know.”
Frances Traynor, speaking from experience, the most virulently homophobic are the most deeply closeted
It seems to me we may have two different forms of enantiodromia to consider here — enantiodromia being the Jungian term for sudden psychological reversal, a pattern I’ve explored elsewhere. The two versions here, which in practice might well be one, but which we can distinguish for analytic purposes, would be (a) psychological, ie the sudden revulsion at forms of sexuality one previously found acceptable and (b) religious, as in a sudden, emotional conversion experience or repentance by which someone non-religious is precipitated into a religious enthusiast.
Molly Crabapple, According to the Trump fans in my Twitter replies, somehow the homophobic Orlando murderer is the fault of Jews
And finally, Rebellion against Empire:
An al Qaeda fighter made a point once in a debriefing. He said, all these movies that America makes, like Independence Day and Hunger Games and Star Wars, they’re all about a small scrappy band of rebels who will do anything in their power with the limited resources available to them to expel an outside, technologically advanced invader. And what you don’t realize, he said, is that to us, the rest of the world, you are The Empire, and we are Luke and Han. You are the aliens and we are Will Smith.