Sunday, June 12, 2016

Update: LA

Updated—see below

Not to stereotype, but I'm betting the James Wesley Howell who was apprehended in Santa Monica on his way to the Los Angeles Pride Parade with a deadly arsenal in his car, pictured above, was not an Islamic terrorist (I'm not a bit afraid to use the words).

But I'll bet you any money he's got something deeply in common with Omar Mateen: a gloomy, hate-filled, and theologically ill-informed and backward interpretation of a fine old religious tradition, a deep-seated fear (first) and hatred (afterwards) of the idea of men having sex with men, presumably rooted in conflict over his own sexual identity, and an attraction to violence and death, including his own. In other words a typical religious conservative male with some (hopefully) very atypical emotional issues.

The particular religion (Muslim, Protestant, Catholic—other traditions have terrorists, but not so marked perhaps with sexual terror) isn't the important thing. The important thing is the attitude. Can you admit that, WASP or Waziristani, al-Qa'eda or Y'all Quaeda, it's the same disease? Can you say the words, "conservative fundamentalist, homophobic terrorist"?

If you can't say them, it's because you've otherized the problem into a place where you can't even see it, probably because you're afraid to see it in yourself, and I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to talk to you. You need to see it in yourself, as you need to see racism if you want to cope with it. What we need isn't a war with Islam, it's a jihad, a struggle that would be better conducted nonviolently, against conservatism in that hidebound, murderous sense. If you can't say the words, you're part of the problem.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

 I lose my bet there, as commenter Saurs pointed out after I went to bed; the Powell guy does not fit that profile in any clear way; he doesn't seem to have any ill will toward the the LGTB community, being a 20-year-old out B himself, or any standout religious affiliations. He does qualify as a rightwinger from my standpoint, an NRA enthusiast and a dweller in the mists of Mt. Paranoia, based on what the Los Angeles Times says about his Facebook page:
The site includes political posts, including one in which he compares Hillary Clinton to Adolf Hitler. In another, he repeats conspiracy theories that the government was behind notorious terrorist attacks, including Sept. 11, 2001. That post shares a video claiming that last year’s terror attack on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a hoax and attributable to the “New World Order.” 
He absolutely should not have been traveling with all those weapons, since he was on probation since mid-April in lieu of a one-year prison sentence for intimidating neighbors with a firearm, and getting rid of all his guns was part of the terms of his probation. But we have no idea what, if anything, he planned to do with the things.

I'll leave the post as it is as an object lesson on the danger of jumping to conclusions.


Never Ben Better said...

Spot on, good sir.

Ten Bears said...

White Conservative Fundamentalist Christian Homophobic Racist Misogynous Terrorist

Saurs said...

Howell is bisexual and police have now qualified their earlier statements, walking back the initial claim that he told an officer, at the time of the arrest, that he wanted to harm people at Pride. He has a prior conviction for intimidating his boyfriend with a gun. Just to clarify.

Anonymous said...

a gloomy, hate-filled, and theologically ill-informed and backward interpretation of a fine old religious tradition, a deep-seated fear (first) and hatred (afterwards) of the idea of men having sex with men,

Or women having sex with women. Or anybody having any kind of unapproved relationship no matter the reason or cause. Or who believes the wrong thing or who has the wrong skin color. Or religion.

presumably rooted in conflict over his own sexual identity, and an attraction to violence and death, including his own.

An attraction to power over others.

In other words a typical religious conservative male with some (hopefully) very atypical emotional issues.

Hard to argue otherwise.

Can you say the words, "conservative fundamentalist, homophobic terrorist"?

'Terrorist asshole.'

['All those fuckers are the same, it's the targets that change.']

Parallax said...

Jihad is actually the inner battle with one's own ego. That's what the Qu'ran speaks of. I'm a Jewish convert to Islam, though in reality it's not a conversion because in a deep way the religions are identical. It's just much easier to find teachers who understand the beautiful holy teaching in Islam. Judaism has become mostly secular and the orthodox have mostly gone insane.

It's interesting that fundamentalists tend to take inner teachings and turn them outward. It's hard to battle against the parts of oneself that need to be overcome. So much easier to take a concept like jihad and turn it outward, pointing fingers at others.

The fundamentalists on all paths have way more in common with each other than any of them would like to admit. At the same time, sincere moderate religious folks of all faiths have just as much in common with each other and also with other moderate spiritually oriented people. The outer forms may be different but the inner essence is the same.

This is the month of Ramadan. Today was the 7th day. It's after sunset where I live so the 8th day has begun. I fast from sunrise to sunset, which is 18 hours this time of the year in my latitude. Harder than not eating is the sleep deprivation that goes with rising at 2 a.m. to eat before 3, and then forcing enough down to make it until after 9 p.m.

But it is the jihad, the struggle, and there's an enormous beauty that comes through. This month, all people, rich and poor are unified in their hunger as well as their sincere effort to overcome the needs of the body. This month we all struggle to be polite and kind to each other, to our spouses and children and friends and family and colleagues and clients, even when we're tired and hungry and cranky. But we come together to pray and to connect. We turn back again and again to God, asking for help. It's a very beautiful journey.

Unknown said...

Someone Tweeted this to me "Why doesn't Trump want to build a wall around all Tobey Maguire look a like Terrorists?".

Yastreblyansky said...

Thanks, @Saurs, for catching that--I've added an update. Thanks so much, @Parallax, and Ramadan Kareem to you.

Ten Bears said...

My grandparents taught me that in polite company, in civized company, in all our dealings with the outside world, one's religion or lack thereof like politics is best kept to one's self and if necessary their expression a thing of beauty. That Parallax (no stranger around here, aeh), was a thing of beauty.

It's generally agreed in the Psychology industry that most homophobia is an expression of fear and loathing of the homophob's own latent homosexuality. Applies to misogyny and most other bigoted phobias equally.

You're right max, boiled down to ones and zeros a terrorist asshole.

aimai said...

I think you can't assume that just because someone is gay, or bisexual, that they don't have enormous problems with people who are out and proud about it, or who are aligned with a different political party.

Yastreblyansky said...

Aimai, I wrote that carelessly, LA Times cited "evidence" FWIW for his lack of animus against gay people, not just his identity, and I didn't mean to suggest the evidence was conclusive.

aimai said...

Not meant as a criticism, Yas! Just an observation. There's just so much black and white thinking going on right now about people's motivations and identities. Just thought I'd throw my observation into the mix.

KenRight said...

You shouldn't perhaps jump to conclusions either about gloomy hate-filled interpretations of fine old religious traditions generally.
Well, these interpretations, such as they were, did not come to fruition in
a United States which had legitimatized mass public displays of homosexuality, although low-key enclaves were not necessarily uncommon, nor did those having arguably "gloomy" interpretations of such, though go out of their way to engage in any action against them as they manifested conduct of a low key traditional ambiance.

Leo Artunian said...

K-Right -

"Mass public displays of homosexuality"? Are you being inconvenienced by numerous public acts of a sexual nature, but object only to those that are homosexual (or massive) in nature? Or is that turn of phrase of a piece with the rest of your comment which, despite repeated readings, fails to make any sense?

Yastreblyansky said...

I didn't take it as criticism, aimai, I took it as editing! Which everybody needs ;-)

KenRight said...

Leo you're right. I really shouldn't try to outclever myself for this blog,and should rather perhaps just recommend the moderate laws on the subject recently passed by the seeming last Christian-friendly country in the (East) West.

jsrtheta said...

I certainly believed that Howell was en route to commit mayhem. Then I saw the news that he is, apparently, gay himself.

So I guess he wasn't going to commit mayhem.

But then why was he carrying three assault rifles and alleged bomb materials, perhaps crossed many state lines with them, which may be violations of state and federal law right there, if he had no ill intent?

So, are we sure he wasn't going to shoot up the parade? (I'm sure he couldn't be self-hating...)

Saurs said...

No worries, Yastreblyansky. Besides, this point about Howell and Mateen

rooted in conflict over [their] own sexual identity

turned out to be prescient and entirely correct in the case of Mateen, as patrons of Pulse note that he was a regular, often indicated in casual conversation that he was not out as bi or homosexual to his family or friends, and would complain about his father. He may have also used a LGBT dating "app" recently, as well.

aimai said...

Lets get real. No one travels with that kind of weaponry without intending to use it. Maybe he was, in a future time, going to fail to use it. Maybe he was just scoping out the rally like Mateen apparently scoped out the shooting at Pulse. But there is no way an innocent person travels with all that weaponry in the ordinary course of events.

Procopius said...

OK, I'm not able to suppress my inmer language police. The Arabic language is extraordinarily flexible but rule-bound. The language consists of three or four letter "roots," which are then changed to parts of speech by changing prefixes, suffixes, infixes, and vowels. The noun that refers to a practitioner of the religion is "Muslim." The noun that refers to the religion itself is "Islam." The two words are derived from the root /slm/, which mrans something like "submission."