Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Right Wing Perspective on the Orlando Night Club Massacre

In a rather disquieting post on the web site "Uncommon Descent" we read the reaction of abrasive right wing Christian Gordon Mullings to the Orlando Night Club Massacre. The post can be found here:


Below I reproduce some portions of Mullings' post plus one comment he added in the comment thread. I also reproduce below some of the content by another right-wing UD poster Denise O'Leary. I have interleaved my comments.  

This seems to be of a — horrific — piece with the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. (The direct parallel to Bataclan makes chatter about “gun control” as the solution patently irrelevant.)

My Comment:  Irrelevant? Far from it!

Unlike the Bataclan attacks which had detectable IS links it seems the FBI are having trouble finding any links with IS apart from lone-wolf radicalization. I have heard it said that there is a distinction between being inspired by IS and being directed by IS. When directed by IS the radicalized Islamist must be linked into the IS communications network which then considerably increases the chances of the radical appearing on the security services radar. But those who are just inspired by IS and otherwise operate alone, are much more difficult to detect. 

In the UK attacks from those who have links to radical Islam or claim to be inspired by radical Islam have used sharp edge weapons and not guns (See here and here). This is very likely down the the difficulty of getting guns in the UK. So, provided there is effective gun control already in place, as it is in the UK,  lives  are clearly being saved; for it is extremely likely that if the perpetrators of UK attacks could have laid their hands on high powered military grade weapons of mass destruction they would have done so. 

Mullings can say what he likes but once good gun control is already in place it is a very relevant factor in public safety although it is not the complete solution, of course. 

Per Drudge, it seems Gateway Pundit and Walid Shoebat are saying there was an ISIS threat against Florida three days ago. Sky News reports a call to emergency services just prior to the attack, during which loyalty was pledged to IS. A now sadly familiar modus operandi.

Mass murder, demonic evil on the loose, 4th generation war with no distinction between military and civilians.

My Comment: A familiar modus operandi? I suppose it is if you understand that in the US lone wolves inspired by IS who are likely to be off the radar of the security services, can easily pick up military grade weaponry and start shooting straight away with devastating results. 

Let us get what seems to be relevant geostrategic context:
The  geographic paranoia of  right-wing America

My Comment: To my mind this vision of America is typical of the extreme right wing; Christian supporters of Donald Trump are also likely to see the world much like this; that is, a decaying and weak US beset by increasingly confident and belligerent antagonists. These supporters are quite sure America is no longer great and therefore respond to the appeal to "Make America great again". In fact the above is a paranoid vision that fails to take into account the nature  of Russian, China and as we shall see, human nature in general.

The Chinese are a creative and hard working nation and have been the seat of thousands of years of high civilization. It ought to be no surprise that a country like China, once it mobilizes its huge population and starts to feel its strength, is going to be a force to be reckoned with; but not necessarily a malign force if the West, faced with a trade hungry nation, plays its (business) cards right and leaves the Chinese to govern themselves the Chinese way.

As for Russia we must remember that here we are dealing with a nation whose history favours a perspective of paranoia and belligerence - as one commentator put it, in Russian culture  "Might is right". But nevertheless we ought to have some sympathy with Russia on several counts. From a Russian point of view there is a long history of the West appearing to be always out to get Russia and do down its culture and generally humiliate it. This started, I suppose, with the great schism of 1154 between Latin and Greek Christianity, followed by the Western Crusader sack of Constantinople in 1204. More recently Russia has had to face Napoleon, the Crimean war, Nazi Germany, the Cold war defeat, not to mention recent tensions with the West which from a Russian point of view look malign, threatening and above all humiliating.  Let's also recall that the Russian population is only similar in size to the populations of just the UK and Germany combined, both of whom have larger economies than Russia and where the UK alone has a similar military spend to Russia. If one now combines all the rich Western nations (and Japan) ranged against Russia (and that includes the most powerful nation in the world i.e. America, in spite of what Trump says) one can understand Russian fears.

Let's remember that Russia, like the West, has a Christian background, namely the eastern orthodox church with its roots in Greek speaking Byzantium. This background Christian culture should be respected and encouraged. I know it's not a perfect model of Christianity, but then neither is Roman Catholicism and its Protestant offspring with its numerous fanatical fundamentalist sects and cults. Most of all Russia wants respect and security. For the Latin Christian this means respecting Russia's orthodox Christian tradition.

Yes, there are dangers in the current tensions between the big nations as there always have been, but it  helps to attempt to understand the perceptions and sense of (jn)justice of those on opposite sides of national divides. Contrast this with a right-winger like Mullings who only sees bogeymen and threat. If that attitude spreads and goes go critical on all sides then you've got a world war on your hands. 

It seems the weapon is an AR-15, which would be a semiauto 5.56 mm NATO weapon. At Bataclan,  AK 47s were used.

I think, again, that we need to look to serious target hardening, given the successful defense of the Geller event in Garland TX. END

VS, while I really do not want to get into an exchange just now, I note that in Paris the restrictions on firearms are far more stringent than anything that would be imposed in the US for the foreseeable future. All it did was create a massive soft target. The tactical lesson is, targets need to be hardened in a 4th gen war world in which the determined WILL be able to get hands on weapons (as long as drugs are smuggled, so can be guns); as the Garland TX case also shows. Also, as was discussed here at UD after the San Bernardino case. KF

My Comment. Well, I can't speak for the US; it's already awash with military grade weaponry and whether you are a lone mass killer or a well organised network of killers guns are virtually on tap; how one proceeds given a national situation like that I've no idea. If I lived in such an armed environment I might well feel threatened and paranoid enough to want to defend myself with a gun. i.e to become a "hard target", in the face of threats from extremists, cranks and people angry enough to just blow it.

Guns beget more guns and that in turn begets more killings in an fight for survival that leads to an arms race. Let's face it; in the US the horse has bolted and I've really no idea of how they are going to sort it, especially in the face of right wing intransigence on gun control.

But how would Mullings propose to target harden places like the UK and France where that hardening is in the hands of the security forces?  According to Mullings the stringent firearms controls in both countries makes their populace a massive soft target! But imagine it: To target harden the UK gun shops would have to open up on every street corner. That would immediately make guns available to both those inspired by IS and those already linked to the IS comms network. If there wasn't such stringent gun control in the UK we would very probably have seen several IS style massacres by now. But radicalized Islamic extremists would be the least of our problems; at most they are likely to take the lives of a hundred or so citizens. However, make weapons of mass destruction available to citizens on a huge scale and you immediately consign many thousands per year to death by gun. When guns are available over the counter the human impulse is to use them under situations of stress, threat and anger, not to mention the obvious dangers of making guns readily available to malign crackpots. Where a society is awash with military grade weaponry its citizens don't just become hardened targets but potentially proactive shooters themselves simply because  anger, vengeance and mental pathology then have the potential to express themselves with a gun; the population turns the guns on itself.

At times Mullings seems paranoid; he is very ready to read ad hominem, web stalking, and malicious innuendo into critics behavior especially if the criticism comes from that much feared bogeyman, the atheist liberal-left. This prompts further abrasive and accusing reactions from Mullings which only have the effect of inflaming the web attacks on him still further, thus fixing the whole process in a polarising feedback cycle. But we can't just blame Mullings here. A kind of cultural paranoia is abroad among the transatlantic right-wingers in general, a paranoia which in part defines the right-wing and conditions its responses.  Consider for example UD poster Denise O'Leary who gives her reason for not favoring Brexit as follows:

I’m not a Brit, but were I one, I’d sure vote Brexit. Several reasons:
1. If Britain had wanted to be run by Germany, she could have surrendered in either of the two World Wars. But she didn’t. She defeated Germany in both. History matters.
2. One person who clearly recognized all that was WWII era French President Charles deGaulle. He vetoed England’s entry into the European Common Market precisely because he had lived in England, knew English, and understood that the culture of the English-speaking peoples is different. For one thing, we have each other, worldwide.

(See http://www.uncommondescent.com/science/celebrate-the-science-writer-as-asshat/)

To me the above smacks of subliminal xenophobia: It doesn't follow that being part of the EU means acquiescent acceptance that Germany runs the show or even wants to run the show. Lack of British surrender was because she didn't want to be run by subliminal authoritarians and Nazis., Frankly O'Leary's comment trades on a lingering distrust and fear of ulterior Germanic motives that revolve round the bad memories of fascist Germany. Also, it is entirely erroneous to talk as if the English speaking peoples share a very common culture - they don't. For example, the kind of quasi-anarchistic gun tooting libertarian brash right wingery and christian fundamentalism we see in the States leaves me utterly uncomprehending of transatlantic culture. It seems that the self-selecting go-getting Europeans who left the troubles of Europe in favor of the promise of the New World has given America its own peculiar culture, vibrant, pioneering and innovative  yes, but sometimes it feels a little off-balance to a Brit.

Clearly O'Leary's simplistic "Whose side are you on?" dichotomy and her fanatical paranoia over the liberal left does no justice whatever to the real world situation. But paranoia isn't a problem unique to US right wingers and fundamentalists - it's a human nature problem and that is a universal independent of culture. There are bound to be the paranoid and nationally belligerent equivalents of the O'Learys and Mullings among the Russians, the Germans, the Chinese*1, not to mention the Brits, each of whom fancies they see a threatening world of ulterior motives, a world out to get them. And these nations don't just have a few Kalashnikovs, truck bombs, bows and arrows, flint axes and what-have-yous, but huge arsenals of some of the most advanced weapons of mass destruction the world has seen. Now that is scary, very scary.

* 1  See here for an example of Chinese paranoia: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-36983521

Note on Gordon Mullings' Science
Mullings' hard-right attitudes and personal abrasiveness doesn't do justice to his science material which is eminently more reasonable. He's not a fanatical YEC and seems aware of the heuristic nature of science. If you want to find out about transatlantic de-facto ID you couldn't do much better than consult Mullings' works - they are well organised and well presented.  However, there are aspects of his thinking which in my opinion are badly wrong: He uses the old crude explanatory filter which leads him to adopt the standard God-of-the-gaps paradigm of de facto ID. Also, he wrongly thinks the second law of thermodynamics contradicts evolution. This seems to be because he has no concept of how physical constraint (such as the spongeam) might play a role in evolution, as it does in life's ability to organise and annex matter on a large scale and yet stay within the second law. It's true that the latter is down to the presence of biological information, but conceivably the laws of physics provide this up front information for evolution. Although I personally actually doubt this proposition the possibility of the spongeam has to be examined and consciously eliminated from the inquiry. 

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