Saturday, January 07, 2017


A man opened fire at the airport in Fort Lauderdale yesterday, killing five and wounding eight others before surrendering to police. The suspect, Esteban Santiago, was born in New Jersey, grew up in Puerto Rico, and served in the National Guard before moving to Anchorage, Alaska. Given his name and background, right-wingers eager to blame the shooting on the usual targets of conservative hate didn't seem to have much to work with.


The right was off on a wild goose chase, looking for evidence that Santiago was a secret jihadist. A Gateway Pundit headline announced that Santiago "Lived Within Walking Distance From Only Mosque in Alaska." Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch said that a photo of Santiago depicts him "making the one-finger sign that signifies belief in the Islamic concept of tawhid, the absolute unity of the godhead."

Pam Geller quoted a claim that "ISIS terrorist channels knew Esteban’s name before some news corporations reported it." And:

But it's become increasingly obvious that Santiago is mentally ill:
The suspect in the Fort Lauderdale shooting was a U.S. military veteran who "lost his mind" after a tour of duty in Iraq, his aunt said Friday.
The 26-year-old New Jersey-born Iraq veteran accused of executing five people and wounding eight others at a Florida airport claimed just two months ago that he was hearing voices.

It was part of a difficult adjustment to civilian life after serving overseas.

... Santiago spiraled down a dark descent that included a less than honorable discharge, arrests for domestic violence and now the first mass shooting on U.S. soil in 2017....

In November, the Army vet walked into an Anchorage FBI office and unleashed a torrent of conspiracy theories.

A law enforcement official says he told the FBI that the government was controlling his mind and was forcing him to watch ISIS videos.

Santiago appeared incoherent at times, a source told ABC News...

Maria Ruiz [his aunt] told “Noticias Telemundo” Santiago was hospitalized for two weeks after he visited the FBI.

“They had him in an isolated room because he was a little wrong in the head and he started to like hear things,” Ruiz said....

“It was like he lost his mind,” Ruiz said of his return from Iraq. “He said he saw things.”
ISIS wasn't an ideological lodestar for Santiago -- it was a demon that his damaged mind felt had seized control of him. He's not a jihadist.

So what are all the right-wingers saying now? Mostly, they've buried what they wrote yesterday. The Drudge Report still has a "JIHAD COMES TO FORT LAUDERDALE?" headline, but Pam Geller has moved on to a fire at a refugee home in Germany. At Jihad Watch, the Fort Lauderdale story has been buried under stories such as "UK: Lawyer for jihad killer says he was 'confused by vehicles driving on different side of road than he was used to.'"

And most of the big guns have also turned to other stories, and are downplaying the terrorism angle in their Fort Lauderdale coverage. Breitbart's headline is surprisingly non-alarmist: "Fort Lauderdale Shooter Esteban Santiago, A Troubled Man Known to the FBI." At Fox News, there's this:

Wow -- Fox is giving us permission to say Santiago's motive is unclear? When the right-wing media is certain that a violent act is terrorism, investigators, journalists, and politicians are excoriated for waiting even an hour or two before shouting "Terrorism!"

Shorter right-wing media: Nothing truly narrative-affirming to see here. Move on.


Never Ben Better said...

So pointing with one's index finger in a manner suggesting, oh, "Look over there" or maybe "Bang, bang, I'm a macho guy with a gun" is now a terrorist gesture? I guess they couldn't find any photos of him doing a terrorist fist bump.

Stella B. said...

A guy with a recent mental health hospitalization and a history of domestic violence is allowed to keep a gun in Alaska? That's some kind of freedumb. .

Anonymous said...

... difficult adjustment to civilian life after serving ...

The chickens are home to roost.
Ten Bears

gocart mozart said...

I thought those were ghetto gang bang signals that the thugs use to call for a cop shooting. They're throwing confusements at me.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Mental illness of psychotic delusions often manifest with feats of a powerful group (the goverment, the mafia) exerting control or trying to control the sufferer. Of course, when right-wingerd mention mental health in conjunction with mass shootings it is to deflect from gun control for they have no intention of addressing mental health ever.

Cirze said...

I often wondered long ago if Sirhan Sirhan had asked for medical care for his mentally confused state if he'd have been refused, but would have left a clinic record of the refusal thereby opening the door to better public health treatment for all.