On Saturday night, an American citizen walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando and killed 49 people. It is the worst mass shooting in this country's blood-soaked history.
Yes, the shooter was Muslim. Yes, he pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call he made before entering Orlando's Pulse nightclub. But, this isn't an Islamic problem. This is an American problem.
Hate crimes are, by definition, acts of terror. But, they are a terror we've bred here, on our own soil. And here, that terror has flourished.
Still, many people turned to Islamophobia as a powerful conductor for their anger. And in light of the current political climate, this is no surprise.
Consider the following two tweets from the possible next president of this country:
The xenophobic ignorance, flagrant self-aggrandizement and ethical repulsiveness of these tweets need no further explaining from me. They are as openly grotesque as a pile of dog shit on a baby.
But, the reality of the matter is this: Islamophobia is now at its worst since 9/11. And we all have to do everything we can to prevent this country from cowering in the seductive shelter of that rage and brutality.
The caption reads,
My heart goes out to the victims of the homophobic attack in Orlando. So here is a photo of three Arab men in drag. Because fuck homophobia and fuck Islamophobia, and fuck the hypocrites who use one to justify the other. You all have blood on your hands. And if this photo offends you, you have blood on your hands too.
Look, I do not believe it is a coincidence in the wake of this tragedy those people most likely to pass homophobic legislation are now furiously stoking the fires of Islamophobia.
After all, without the straw man of Islamic radicalism to point and shout at, I believe it would be all too clear these people are complicit in this hate crime.
As I've written previously, this country teaches many of us to hate and despise the LGBTQ+ community. This country sanctions the withholding of their rights.
And this country, whether we are willing to admit it or not, brainwashes many of our men and boys to violently attack that community -- but not before arming them with legally purchased AR-15s.
The truth is, we are all culpable. This is our country. And we are citizens of a nation that breeds hatred and encourages violence.
I'll say it again: This is not an Islamic problem. This is an American problem. Please, don't give in to that distraction, no matter how painful this is or how seductive it feels to blame the Orlando shooting on outside influence.
We need the American media to tell its citizens the truth. Omar Mateen was a 29 year old radical American homophobe with a history of domestic abuse, who likely found some fertile ground for his American homophobia, misogyny and abusiveness in Isis propaganda.
Yes, hatred is an extremely effective psychological anesthetic. But, the victims of this hate crime -- and the one in Charleston, and the one before that and before that -- they deserve better from us.
Please, for once, let us not abandon the victims of gun violence because we are all too reluctant to face the ugliness of this ugly country. For once, let's actually do something braver than just comfort ourselves with the opiate of hatred.
Citations: Word Matters: Why the news media is calling Omar Mateen an 'Islamic Radical' and not a 'radical American homophobe' (All Digitocracy), This Is The Gun That Committed The Deadliest Shooting In U.S. History (ThinkProgress)