Opinion: Our Only Response To The Orlando Shooting Is To Keep Celebrating In Cultural Epicentres
Stephen Marche is sick of the game where we attack Muslims or defend Muslims, or we blame gun culture or say it had nothing to do with gun culture.
BY STEPHEN MARCHE | Jun 14, 2016 | Culture
The war on joy arrived in America Saturday night, an unwelcome innovation from abroad. After the Paris attacks in November 2015, it became clear that ISIS and its self-radicalised Western operators were no longer content to attack military and commercial targets. They were coming for culture. They attack the places where people go to celebrate love and enjoy life. A gay nightclub in Orlando is, in its way, exactly what the promise of Western liberty drives toward: the chance to be yourself openly and pleasurably. They're right to hate it. It's us at our best.
Al Qaeda used terrorism as an instrument for foreign policy goals. For ISIS, the conflict between Islam and the West is a global cultural struggle that is nihilistic to the core. They are a different beast, operating far more surreptitiously and invidiously. The killers in San Bernardino or Orlando were not trained by distant armies. ISIS's only demand of its killers is to pledge allegiance before committing destruction. (Omar Mateen declared his loyalty on Twitter.) This basic fact changes the nature of the enemy from the terrorists of the early 21st century. The murderers have not flown in from some other country to commit their crimes; they are not the product of other cultures but of our own. They understand what they are attacking. They know what brings us together and what divides us.
Remember that ISIS is a much more powerful social media force than it is a military force, and you start to understand why they would attack a place like Pulse. The point of terrorism has always been to provoke a response. So what is the symbolic purpose of attacking a gay nightclub in Orlando? It is an assault on openness, itself. When Trump says, as he has said in the wake of these attacks, "We cannot afford to be politically correct anymore," it is exactly what Omar Mateen wanted.
ISIS leaders could not have written Trump's response any closer to their liking.
The attack is the largest mass shooting in American history, but it all felt sickeningly familiar. The dull thud of the initial news; the empty guesses about who might be responsible; intuiting what the media reports of a "lone wolf" implied; whether that meant it was a white guy or a Muslim, a lunatic or just an "evil person," reckoning with further dull horror about the future consequences for the world.
They're right to hate it. It's us at our best.
Frankly, I'm sick of it. I don't want to play this game anymore, the game where we attack Muslims or we defend Muslims, or we blame gun culture or we say it had nothing to do with gun culture, or we hope this leads to discussions about mental illness and then the politicians talk about their "thoughts and prayers." We've all lived through enough of this garbage to know the truth by now. There are executioners in this world, and there are dancers in nightclubs, and that is that. The dancers have always struggled against the executioners of one stripe or another, and the only response that works is to survive, to keep dancing.
I believe that this war on culture by ISIS is the desperate strategy of a panicking enemy. The culture of openness has only one way to go—that is the larger truth. To live in a cosmopolitan place, to understand and to live the beauty of difference, is to know that openness leads to more openness. That's what people mean when they say "Love triumphs over hate." It sounds pious or like wish-fulfilment, but it happens to be true.
The goddamn Tonys were the night of the killing. They decided not to bring muskets on stage during the performance from Hamilton. The gesture was welcome and smart. It gave them more room to move. There is no shooting our way out this. Only more celebration.
From: Esquire US.