Surrounded by Tragedies

In his famous essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell lamented how the English language has becomes “ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts…. prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.”  We select certain vague words or phrases that are intended to hide the truth rather than express it.  One overused word that has suffered the fate of obfuscation is tragedy.  We even attempt to dress up the word by attaching “senseless” to it, rendering what is being said nonsense.  Tragedies are by nature not random acts, but instead should be seen as the almost unavoidable consequence of the decisions of the tragic hero. There may be some fate as to how it actually plays out, but the hero always bears responsibility for the calamity.  The tragic event always comes about because of some serious flaw in the hero’s character.

Last week, the city of Orlando was rocked by two unrelated calamities that have both been called tragedies.  Despite the fact that the sheriff called the drowning of the child after being attacked by an alligator a “very unfortunate tragedy,” he was simply the victim of an unfortunate accident.  No one could have anticipated what happened and neither the child nor his parents bore any culpability in the attack.  The “national tragedy” that occurred at the Orlando nightclub was something vastly different.  It bore all the marks of a tragedy in the true sense of the word.  There was nothing random about the slaughter of forty-nine people by the tragic hero, Omar Mateen.  If the little evidence that we have been made aware of is to be believed, then it was clearly a thoroughly premeditated act.   It does not take much reflection to see that these two events are not in the same category, yet the secular press and the government would have us believe that they are.

In calling them both a tragedy it allows us to simply chalk them up to fate.  In one case it was that the alligator just happened to be in that part of the water while in the other he just happened to pick that particular club. This is like saying that Macbeth’s demise at the hand of Macduff was because the witches said he was invincible and not because of Macbeth’s lust for power.  In other words, by grouping all calamities together as tragedies, it allows us to gloss over the tragic flaw of the principle actor.

The flaw in Omar Mateen was that he had been to Saudi Arabia and been taught by a radical element within Islam; or so we are told.  And here we have yet another attempt at verbal gymnastics to avoid the deep thinking necessary.  We think by attaching the adjective “radical” to the noun Islam that we are saying that he has somehow gone beyond what is true Islam.  The base of the word radical is literally “forming the root” meaning that it is a thorough application of Islam.  It is Islam at its root.


Anyone familiar with the teachings of Islam will know that what Mateen did was what his religion dictates.  There are a number of places in the Qur’an where homosexual activity is condemned one of which is the seventh surah:

“And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, ‘Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds?  Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.’  But the answer of his people was only that they said, ‘Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure.’  So We saved him and his family, except for his wife; she was of those who remained [with the evildoers].  And We rained upon them a rain [of stones]. Then see how was the end of the criminals.” (7:80-84).

Recall that to the faithful Muslim, the sayings of Muhammad or hadith are binding upon them, especially when applying what the Qur’an teaches to concrete circumstances.  What should a faithful Muslim do to those who engage in homosexual behavior?  Muhammad is quite explicit as to what the punishment should be:  “If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4462).

It is not so much then that Mateen had been “radicalized” as that he was acting in accord with what his religion teaches.  There are some differences in the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence as to the number of strikes a suspected homosexual gets, but all of them allow for execution.  Accordingly, there have been an estimated 4000 executions of suspected homosexuals under Sharia law in Iran since 1980.  It is one thing to think homosexual behavior wrong like Christians do; it is another to treat it as a crime, punishable by death.

Obviously then we have to make the attack about what it was about.  Mateen certainly targeted Americans because they are Americans, but to think he picked this particular group of Americans for any other reason than what his religion teaches is naïve.  One could scour the media for the Islamic teachings and never find them.  The government will never assign that as his motivation.  Why is that?

First, those who have been thoroughly secularized cannot imagine anyone acting based on strict religious convictions.  Their version of religion is that which makes us comfortable, but makes very little in the way of demands.  Anyone so committed to religion that they would actually follow the tenets of that religion is clearly a fanatic or a radical.

Second, it seems very strange at first glance that two diametrically opposed world views, namely LGBT and Islam, could remain unchallenged media darlings.  That is until you factor in the idea that one of them, namely Islam is also a religion.  From a secular viewpoint, all religions are the same.  Islam is no different from Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism.  They are all just flawed man-made attempts to reach God, if there even is one.  It is all just “different strokes for different folks” and as long as we can coexist, then everything is fine.  But the minute they actually investigate Islam and find out that it calls for the killing of homosexuals, they would have to admit that this religion has something false in it.  Not only is that repugnant to a relativist, but it would force them to admit that they are not all equal.  Some are actually better than others.  This is dangerous territory because it could lead to something like dogmatism—insisting that religion is actually a source of truth.

Instead they merely stick their heads in the sand and deny such dangerous elements in the religion exist.  They instead label anyone who believes such things as “radical” and accuse them of taking it too far.  But the proof is in the religion’s founding documents that no one seems to know how to read.  Meanwhile, ignorance is not bliss.  People are being killed because of the steady refusal to admit reality.  Orlando may have been a great tragedy, but like all tragedies there is a sense that it could have been averted had we been willing to acknowledge the tragic flaw.

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