Sunday morning, as the news reached the eyes of America, again the nation woke to an act of unimaginable violence. 50 dead and 53 three injured, some critically. Their bodies laying bloodied in the halls of Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orland, FL where last night the shooter, Omar Mateen, riddled the attendees with bullets; their cell phones ringing endlessly with the calls of loved ones.
After taking a few hours to let the news sink in, I wanted to write down a few thoughts that have been circling in my mind. Of the immensely complex ingredients to this disgusting act, I will touch briefly on how we should categorize the death, causations of the act including social and political tensions currently brewing in the United States, gun control, the long-lasting impact of the shooting on our social environment, and the relative value of a life.
First, this is not only an act of violence, but an act motivated by bigotry and hatred that manifested itself in an act of genocide.
Genocide: Noun – the deliberate killing of people who belong to a particular racial, political, or cultural group.
Orlando was a targeted genocide against a specific cultural/ethnic group – the LGBT community. I cannot help but cite in large part the social tension within the United States as a cause for the killings. The conservative politicians that are spewing intolerance for marginalized minorities and the citizens that are supporting political influencers like D. Trump and MANY others who divide people with publicly hateful rhetoric, demagoguery, and xenophobia are to blame.
Some have suggested the connection between ISIS and Omar Mateen. While at the time of this writing (June 12) this is unconfirmed, it is important to recognize that Mateen was born in NY to Afghan parents and he was not an immigrant. Mateen’s father has stated that his son was disturbed after seeing two men kiss and that the killings “had nothing to do with religion,” seemingly trying to disconnect the killings from ISIS. Regardless, if connected to ISIS, policies aimed to ban muslims to keep “bad people” out of the country will not control for circumstances like this. If anything it would further strain the relationships the US has with foreign entities and worsen the US image abroad contributing to more violent terrorist attacks targeting the US. Steps should be made to readjust and improve our reputation abroad.
Further, the homophobic politicians, who are most often found on the upper right side of the spectrum, have repeatedly suppressed the civil rights of LGBT peoples and are now framing this event to further their own political agenda. They should be ashamed.
Gun control will be at the center of the debate following the shooting. Most glaring is the ability to obtain a semi-automatic weapon for personal use. These are military-grade weapon that do not have a place anywhere outside of their purposed location – the military. They are not used for hunting, they are not needed for household protection (unless the enemy is an army), they are meant for KILLING and will be used as such.
Mateen’s death will cause this event to have less of an impact that it would have otherwise. Omar Mateen is dead. He will not be held to a trial. He will not have public statements. He will not have video. His character is unknown to the majority of people aware of the events. This is unfortunate. Social change is caused by events like this – historical junction points that have culminated due to extended times of deep social tension. The conversations, visibility, and legal recourse that occur after an event like this will be hugely constructive for expose the bigotry of the action. However, due to Mateen’s death, the longevity of those critically important outcomes would be greater.
I would like to make a note regarding the concept of the significance of a life in a comparative sense. Keep in mind that everyday in locations around the globe do killings like this occur. It is my opinion that the value of an individuals life can not be greater than any other individual. For that reason, do not be desensitized to the genocides, killings, murders, bombings, and deaths occurring in other reason because of the media’s sensationalism of this event.