The vicious massacre at an Orlando nightclub on Sunday has left Americans reeling from the worst act of terrorism on American soil since 2001, and what has been declared the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
The shooter, Omar Mateen, the son of Afghani refugees, reportedly pledged allegiance to the ISIS terror network years prior to the attack. In the midst of the attack, Mateen called 9-1-1, telling the emergency dispatcher that he was committing the murders on behalf of ISIS.
The Islamic State later issued statements recognizing Mateen as a member of the group while praising the attack.
Radical Islam – or gun-control?
But President Obama played down the shooter’s ties to radical Islam, saying that the killer “was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the internet.”
While the president refrained from mentioning Islamic extremism, he emphasized the need for stricter gun-control.
“[W]e also have to make sure that it is not easy for somebody who decides they want to harm someone in this country to be able to obtain weapons to get at them.”
“We are also going to have to make sure that we think about the risks we are willing to take about being so lax in how we make very powerful firearms available to people in this country.”
Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump slammed Obama’s response, calling on the president to resign for his failure to attribute the attack to Islamic radicalism and the continued immigration of refugees from war-torn states like Afghanistan and Syria.
Trump also criticized Obama’s linkage of the tragedy to gun-control laws, noting that even under regulations proposed by the president, Mateen would have been allowed to purchase firearms.
“[C]alling on another gun ban, I mean, this man has no clue. First of all, the shooter was licensed. So he went through all the procedures, he was fully licensed to have a gun. So he would have passed the test that the president would have thrown up there. It's so ridiculous.”
“An ethos of violence”
On Monday afternoon Lawrence Mayor Martin Oliner spoke to Arutz Sheva about the attack and the President Obama’s response.
“What we have now is a culture of violence and terror,” said Oliner. “There is a whole ethos of violence, people have no limits.”
In contrast to the president’s refusal to cite Islamic terrorism, Oliner claimed that a culture of Islamic radicalism was at the heart of a growing “clash of cultures”, pitting the Judeo-Christian West against elements of the Muslim world.
“Even if it’s not ISIS, the idea that someone would kill 50 people in a terrorist attack, this probably has to do with Islamic terrorism.”
“There’s a culture of terrorism, and that culture is certainly coming from within parts of the Islamic community, and the whole world is now suffering from Islamic terrorism.”
While Islamic terrorism in the past was largely confined to the Middle East, says Oliner, today it has metastasized as a culture of violence, inspiring killers around the world.
“Clash of cultures”
“Traditionally people thought of the Middle East as the hotspot. But terror can grow beyond that hotspot – and it even come to America. Now there’s an entire culture of terrorism driven by Islamic radicalism. It’s a war of cultures – a clash of cultures. “I’m worried about what’s going on not only here [in Israel], but in the rest of the world, including France, Belgium, and now Florida.”
Oliner criticized Obama and other senior Democrats for tying the attack to the politics of gun-control.
“The fact that Obama and Clinton blame this on guns, rather than talk about Islamic extremism, is ludicrous. The United States has to make a concerted effort to eradicate ISIS and the culture of terror that it has created. So far no one has really taken decisive action to stamp out this kind of violence, and the US needs to make an unequivocal commitment to stamp out terrorism and the culture that supports it.”
“When you have a disease, you have to take the proper medicine, and a strong dose of it. If you have pneumonia, you don’t take aspirin. The US needs to bring the world together in a coalition to actively wipe out ISIS. Instead the US is doing everything it can to avoid that. Now they [the Obama administration] is blaming the attack on [a lack of] gun control.”
When asked what how he believed the Jewish community should respond, Oliner said the nature of the war with radical Islam made a unique response to such attacks unnecessary.
“I don’t think American Jews need to have a different response from that of any other Americans. This isn’t a Jewish issue. It’s an issue for everyone. This is a matter of culture, Judeo-Christianity versus Islamic extremism – a violent strain of Islamic culture. I certainly don’t believe that every Muslim is bad, but this culture does come from within the Muslim community.”
“Unfortunately this seems to be what the future holds. The future holds a culture of violence and I’m very concerned for my children and grandchildren.”