Monday, June 20, 2016

ISIS: Who Will Rid Us of this Meddlesome Nation? Becket Speaks to America

A man walks into #Pulse, a nightclub that is intentionally welcoming to LGBQT folk. He is armed with a handgun and a Sig Sauer MCX rifle, and, apparently, hundreds of rounds of ammo. In the narratives released so far, he proceeds, by fits and starts over an extended late night period, to murder 49 people and wound some 53 additional folks.

While on his rampage, he speaks with 9-1-1. In one of his three calls, he pledges allegiance to ISIS.

Later, we learn

  • that he had scouted this location; 
  • that he had used gay dating applications or websites; 
  • that his former wife suspected he was gay and that she heard his father call him gay; 
  • that he was incensed when, with his three year old son, he witnessed to men kissing in public; 
  • that he had been the subject of FBI investigation at least once (after making threats against co-workers); and 
  • that, when he recently sought to purchase ammo and body armor, he was denied and reported to law enforcement.

Was he a radical Islamic terrorist? Was he a self-loathing and closeted homosexual? Was he just a whacko?

If you need to be spoon fed the conclusions, just monitor the White House, DOJ, and FBI websites, they will tell you what to think.

So far, what they've told you to think is that there was no direct connection to ISIS, no evidence that his actions were "ordered" from abroad.

Okay. Am I to be comforted by that story?

Let me answer this way.

In 12th Century England, Henry II of England appointed his friend, Thomas Becket as Chancellor. When the opportunity created by the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury arose, Henry named Becket to that additional post. Henry's design was that he could consolidate power over the Catholic church if the principal prelate of England were "his man."

A dispute subsequently arose over the power of the Crown courts to try clergy for crimes. The immediate context was that a cleric alleged responsible for a murder had been acquitted by an ecclesiastical court. Great public outcry led the Crown to take advantage of the moment and insist that the Church acquiesce in a civil trial.

Becket refused. Instead, he stood with the authority of the Church to try its own. When two other English bishops disagreed and consented to this shift in power, Becket interdicted them. As personal risk grew great, Becket fled to France.

Henry and Becket made up, it seems, when Henry was in France, and Becket returned to Canterbury. While still in France, Henry learned that his restored friend refused to lift the interdiction of the bishops or to tolerate the assertion by England's civil courts over Roman clergy. In a rage, it is reported that Henry cried out:
"What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord. Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest."
Taking the king's words as a command, knights took it upon themselves to confront Becket. He would not relent. When he refused to relent, they slew him on the alter of the church.

In the circumstance of the time, Henry had a thing politicians call "plausible deniability."

He didn't, it seems, mention murder or death, nor did he instruct anyone to execute Becket. He was better situated than that. He had the kind of men surrounding him whose hearts were inclined to run ahead of the king's commands and meet his needs.

Hard to relate to?

Maybe or maybe not.

If you've ever been out to dinner and noticed that your beverage glass is replenished without request, you recognize that there is a kind of servant of need that doesn't wait for need to be stated, or for the giving of instructions on how satisfaction to be given.

The murderer Mateen -- self-loathing gay or clever straight, devout Muslim or radical Islamic terrorist or madman -- didn't receive orders from ISIS (or Hamas, or al Qaeda, or the Taliban). What cold comfort that is for the hundreds of family members binding up the wounded minds and bodies of the lucky shooting survivors! What solace it must offer to the bereaved!

I think not.

ISIS has 20,000 to 35,000 armed militants (the commonly reported number dating to late 2014) or 200,000 militants (the number asserted by certain Kurdish leaders). Neither end of that range begins to illuminate just how terribly dangerous Mateen's actions show these times to be.

We are, for the most part, untouched by the acts of 20,000 or 200,000 ISIS soldiers in Iraq and Syria. Certainly, we know that we need not send to see for whom the bell tolls, that the deaths of so many touch us in a way.

But those far-flung battlefield deaths do not touch us as do the murderous rampages of Orlando, San Bernardino, Chattanooga, Fort Hood. For these acts are taken by those among us. Those who live with us, and, as in Fort Hood and San Bernardino, who work with us. Or, as facts have developed in Orlando, by those that dance with us and go clubbing with us.

And yet "no connection has been made between the shooter and ISIS."

Does ISIS have to quote Henry II before this administration realizes that the instructions of radical Islamic terrorists abroad could not be more clearly given to radical Islamic terrorists at home? What must ISIS do for this administration to come to terms with this mortal enemy? Must they send telegrams or Instagrams or Tweets to particular wolves among us, naming particular targets among us for the Obama collective to grasp the fact that ISIS is not just waging war against Iraq, against Syria, against Israel (after all, why else would it call itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant).

As surely as Henry II caused the death of Becket by his plaintive cry in the hearing of willing hearts, ISIS has placed a contract on America through its messages.

In fact, we know that ISIS is waging war against social services workers (San Bernardino), military recruiters (Chattanooga), soldiers and civil servants (Fort Hood), and members of the LGBQT community (Orlando). The simpering foolishness that comes from Obama, in a televised tantrum over the insistence that he call these attacks instances of radical Islamic terrorism, shames him and embarrasses us. The nonsensical and now failed effort to shield from public view the direct evidence of radical Islamic terrorist motivation evidenced in the remarks of Mateen shames Attorney General Lynch and embarrasses us.

But I've been embarrassed and survived. You probably have survived embarrassments too. The problem with Obama's pandering pedantry is that it produces results that are NOT survivable. Results such as being ventilated by a madman with a gun. It is past time, hopefully not impossibly past time, for the insanity to end. All our lives may depend on it.