One subject I find endlessly fascinating is how mental illness — specific mental illness in individuals — dovetails with contemporary culture. Once upon a time, paranoid people believed they were literally bedeviled, by incubi and succubi. This gave way to space aliens, which yielded to internet-connected “targeted individuals.” (That’s a fascinating story I just linked; you should read.) Our local electrical utility has been installing so-called smart meters over the last few years, and a number of people have appeared at city council meetings, asking that the city refuse them, because if they’re installed, the utility will know which lights you have turned on, access to your electronic devices, etc., and they have no right to this information. STOP THE SURVEILLANCE STATE, etc.
For as long as I’ve been reading newspapers, people have been killing in the name of God — bombing abortion clinics, drowning their own children, or shooting their friends and family. We understand that when these people say God or Jesus or an angel told them to do these things, they’re nuts, because we understand that the Christian God is about love and understanding.
So when a man whom circumstantial evidence would suggest was a closeted homosexual kills 49 people in a gay bar, common sense would suggest his own shame and impulses had something to do with his motive. But if he pledges allegiance to an Islamic terror group instead, we decide this is Islamic terrorism, that he was “self-radicalized” – even though he showed no other evidence of religious dedication, like time at the mosque or even living by Islamic practices – and that this is part of a global plot that must be answered with an unprecedented policy overhaul.
And that’s crazy, if you ask me.
Maybe what we need now is more Muslim immigration, so we’d read more stories like this, about a Muslim trauma surgeon in Orlando, treating the victims of the massacre. Or like this, about ordinary Muslims in Detroit, who worry about the shitstorm these events bring down on their communities. Coincidentally, they have almost the same lead:
Dearborn Heights — One fearful thought gripped Bissan Harb when she learned about Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, the worst in modern American history: “Please don’t let it be a Muslim.”
ORLANDO, Fla. — When Dr. Joseph Ibrahim heard that the attack at the Pulse nightclub may have been linked to terrorism, he caught himself fearing any kind of link to his own Muslim, Middle-Eastern roots.
Please, he thought, don’t let Ibrahim appear anywhere in the gunman’s name.
And with that, I think it’s safe to say we’re 100 percent repatriated after our break. I even spent my first Saturday night home at a Jimmy Buffett concert. Yes, I did. And now that I’ve done it, I never have to do it again. A friend had review tickets, good ones, because he always writes about the pregame scene outside, which I could sum up in a hashtag: #drunkwhitepeople.
That said, it was fun, although by the end I could fairly say I was sick of steel drums, the stupid talking coconut and especially the insistent pandering to the locals. By which I mean? The song – don’t ask me to name it, because I don’t know – about beautiful places. The accompanying video montage started with images of Buffettville, beaches and swaying palms and so on, but transitioned to the cool blue lakes and pine forests of Michigan, before ending with a giant map of Michigan, just in case the drunker members of the audience didn’t get it. “Just once,” I told my friend, “I want to see what happens when the crew loads the wrong video file, and the Texans get North Carolina, or vice versa.” There was also a Glenn Frey tribute – “Take it Easy,” totally defensible – that had some tacked-on images of Gordie Howe. Weak.
But it was an enjoyable evening. And for all the excess in the parking lot – we found one converted school bus with a rooftop deck and hot tub – I thought these folks had the right idea:
Just a man, his girlfriend, a cooler and a kiddie pool in the back of a pickup truck. Note their ages, too — both 21. And they were by no means the youngest people in the crowd. Give Buffett this: No one has figured out a way to brand-extend the American vacation experience like he has.
OK, have to hit the ground running tomorrow, so this will be it for the day. Many more pictures to come. Tanned, rested and ready for the week.