A clearer picture emerges as we search for the latest news about the Orlando massacre, though questions remain. How many injuries and deaths were caused by friendly fire? Was the attacker actually gay? What role did an Islamic preacher and former Marine play? And now there’s news of another shooting with hostages in Amarillo, Texas.
But we should stop abusing this animal, non-human metaphor to describe human crimes. We keep calling the Orlando killer a “lone wolf” to talk about his presumed affiliation to ISIS. He might have been skilfully hidden and ready to spring into action — a well-oiled sleeper cell — to avenge defeats the Islamic State has sustained lately in the Middle-Eastern front.
The wolf is actually a tame and sociable animal; it kills only when it needs to, to defend itself or to eat. But if we really want to continue the perverse game of animal comparisons, then it must be said that this time the real “wolf” — or hyena, or condor — of the situation is Donald Trump, not at all a loner and wildly engaged in a pack hunt, inspiring hate as they go. Trump didn’t hesitate to inveigh against Muslims and didn’t wait even a minute after the massacre to remind us of his racist and xenophobic agenda, trying to score a point for his campaign even as the dead were still being counted, when a merciful silence would have been best.
President Obama saved his comments. He was cautious, showing a low profile, and, most of all, he was wise. He lamented, again, the existence of “domestic terrorism,” denouncing the tragedy of the millions of weapons waiting in the arsenals of American homes, a continuous warning sign of a quiet civil war. That’s not fiction: We see the thousands of victims every year.
Obama surely remembers the massacres committed by the arian supremacists. From Oklahoma to the snipers at abortion clinics, to the massacres of black people, like the most recent one in Charleston, carried out by a white racist one year ago. Most of all, he didn’t use the word “Islamic” to denounce the new horror and to accuse the killer.
That’s wise, for sure, but also with some diplomatic overtones.
Considering the United States’ deep connection with Islamic countries that are decisive for American leadership in the world, from Saudi Arabia, which evokes al Qaeda’s responsibilities for Sept. 11, 2001, to Afghanistan, a country in continuous war, the home country of the American citizen Omar Mateen, the Orlando killer.
Hillary Clinton, by now the party’s candidate in spite of Bernie Sanders’ righteous political stubbornness, is also not very good. In fact, faced with Trump’s hate-seeding aggressiveness, she, too, found nothing better than tell the the “lone wolf” story. A reborn Little Red Riding Hood, Clinton said that she, as a president, will wipe out “the lone wolves, one by one,” and will put an end to ISIS and to its propaganda.
But how is she going to do it, if an ideological claim from any part of the world is enough to become affiliated? And what if a traditional defeat on the battlefield of the caliph’s militias in Iraq, Syria and Libya is not enough?
The fact is that ISIS’s true propaganda is not the skillful but, by now very decipherable, jihadist messaging on websites. It’s war. A war that has already seeded too much hate and has seen Clinton as a protagonist.
That Western war which has destroyed and razed to the ground three countries that are fundamental to Middle East and international stability: Iraq, Libya and Syria. Without these wars, which have not concluded and from which millions of people are fleeing, the Islamic State wouldn’t even exist. Those wars are the root of every act of terrorism, the fruit of an identity-related desperation radicalized religiously within Western societies that are shaped now not on the principles of equality as their constitutions state, but on market forces.
The America before us is not the America of Spoon River, which should be united in painful mourning. It’s a country divided by hate. And worse, its people are armed to the teeth in the privacy of their homes: fertile soil for the domestic terrorism Obama denounced. And, unfortunately, it’s in the process of starting new wars.