Sometimes the media loves to play guilt-by-association with a politician’s supporters, and sometimes it doesn’t. When Seddique Mateen, the father of Orlando mass murderer Omar Mateen, turned up at a Hillary Clinton rally in Florida on Tuesday, the Clinton campaign scrambled to tell the media he wasn’t an invited guest, and they didn’t even know he was there, although he somehow managed to get a plum seat close to the candidate.
The elder Mateen nevertheless made it clear to reporters that he is an enthusiastic Clinton supporter — he even made a big yellow sign declaring his allegiance. In an unbiased media world, that would be a big problem for Clinton because Seddique Mateen is problematic.
(Note: we don’t live in an unbiased media world, so don’t hold your breath waiting for her friends, donors, and former employees in the press to make Clinton denounce him.)
Besides being the father of the worst jihadi killer to attack on American soil since 9/11, Mateen is the self-declared rightful president of Afghanistan and an admirer of the Taliban.
“Our brothers in Waziristan, our warrior brothers in the Taliban movement, and national Afghan Taliban are rising up. Inshallah, the Durand Line issue will be solved soon,” he said during one installment of his 2012-2015 YouTube video series, which he called the “Durand Jirga Show.” As the Washington Post explained, the “Durand Line” is a border dispute between ethnic Pashtuns and the Pakistani government.
Given the number of American troops that have died fighting the Taliban, Mateen calling them his “warrior brothers” and encouraging them to “rise up,” might complicate Hillary Clinton’s I-love-the-troops narrative.
The Post also noted that, only hours before his son’s rampage at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Mateen posted a video in which he asserted the powers of the Afghan presidency, donned military fatigues, and ordered the “army, national police, and intelligence department” to “immediately imprison” several political leaders in Afghanistan — including current president Ashraf Ghani and former president Hamid Karzai, whom Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was nominally a big supporter of, although they had the occasional spat over how to handle Seddique Mateen’s warrior brothers in the Taliban.
Time noted that Mateen asserted presidential authority in more than one of his videos, instructing employees of the Afghan government to “obey his orders and no one else’s.” He once encouraged supporters to attack Afghanistan’s real president: “We want to find a hero to take the turban off Ashraf Ghani and slap him a few times, and very hard.” That should be of great interest to media figures who are currently declaring themselves very concerned and deeply troubled about implied threats of violence against politicians.
When Time asked Mateen why he kept asking for Afghanistan’s real political leaders to be imprisoned and/or slapped around, he claimed he felt his life would be in danger if he made a long-desired trip to Afghanistan because, “from my popularity, they feel in danger.”
Clinton might want to ponder the fact that Seddique Mateen used to be a supporter of Ghani, and according to CBS News, even campaigned for him among Afghans living in the United States, before turning against him and launching what a CBS correspondent described as a fantasy in which Mateen “runs a government in exile and will soon take the power in Kabul in a revolution.” He doesn’t seem to handle political disillusionment well.
On some other occasions, Mateen presented himself as a candidate for the Afghan presidency, rather than the rightful president in exile, making himself look like an inside player in high-level Kabul politics. He didn’t seem to have a high opinion of America during his days as a YouTube star, as the New York Daily News recalls an Afghan official describing his show as “filled with anti-U.S. tirades.” (He tended to deliver those tirades in Dari, which isn’t the language of the Pashtun he seemingly claimed to speak for.)
Some have suggested that Mateen’s more outrageous video statements were meant as jokes of questionable taste. The media has currently ruled out “humor” as an excuse for any supposedly menacing statement, although it’s unclear if that standard applies to anyone except Republicans.
One other Mateen statement that could prove troublesome for his chosen American presidential candidate was his comment, in a video he uploaded to Facebook shortly after the Pulse nightclub atrocity, that he was dismayed by his son’s brutal actions because “God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” so it’s “not an issue that humans should deal with.”
Luckily for Hillary Clinton, dubious supporters are not an issue Democrats have to deal with, even when they somehow slip past security and get dangerously close to the candidate who claims she can handle security for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.