Impossible as it is to believe, the father of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen is still saying stupid things about gays — even after his son killed 49 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub.
Basic public relations should tell you that after your son has committed a murderous rampage, you’re not in the best position to judge others. But no one has offered Seddique Mateen the advice he needs, so I humbly offer it here: Shut up.
The elder Mateen said in a Facebook video Monday that “God himself will punish those involved in homosexuality.” He later shared that opinion with CBS News, adding that homosexuality is “not an issue that humans should deal with.”
He clarified that it isn’t his place to judge — but saying someone’s way of life is punishable by God is itself a judgment. It’s frustrating that Mateen doesn’t understand that.
But it’s also a relief, in a way, to see someone express his destructive foolishness so publicly, so that we can learn from it, see its consequences, and not repeat it ourselves.
It’s becoming not-impossible to believe that Mateen — who reportedly frequented the gay bar he attacked, used gay dating apps and once asked out a male classmate — may have himself been gay. His ex-wife’s fiancé, Marco Dias, told SBT Brazil that the elder Mateen called his son gay in front of her several times before they divorced in 2011.
It’s also not hard to imagine that Omar Mateen was wrestling with internalized homophobia he turned outward early Sunday morning in Orlando.
Whether he was gay or not, it’s not hard to imagine where he learned to hate gays.
Mateen was, like so many mass shooters, isolated and alone, and not by choice. A loser in life.
“He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him,” a man who said Mateen once asked him out told The Palm Beach Post. “He was always socially awkward.”
Mateen did what many losers do. He attempted to make himself feel big and important by linking himself, at least in his mind, with a cause he saw as big and important. As a loser of Middle Eastern descent, he latched onto ISIS, the way some losers of Anglo descent latch onto Nazism, the KKK and other groups.
Mateen reportedly studied ISIS online. But he doesn’t seem to have understood much about the group. The Washington Post reports that at various times he reportedly claimed connections to ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah — three groups that are often at odds with one another.
So if he didn’t learn everything from ISIS, where did he learn? From his father’s statements, it seems he may have learned hatred at home.
If Seddique Mateen is willing to say anti-gay things in public after his son has killed 49 people, what did he say at home, behind closed doors?
Omar Mateen was a product of religious fanaticism — but not just the kind of religious fanaticism that calls on its followers to carry out mass killings. He was also born of the subtler religious fanaticism, the kind that expresses itself in jokes at the dinner table, disapproving scowls at gay people on TV, scolds at sons who “act gay.” The Islamic world has no monopoly on this kind of homophobic fanaticism.
There is a lot of blame to go around in the Orlando shooting. But let’s not forget to save some for the shooter’s father, and every father who does such a terrible job of raising his son.
“If he was gay, why would he do something like this?” Seddique Mateen asked the Palm Beach Post.
It’s a question he might want to ask himself.