Today is a difficult day. Yesterday at least 49 people were killed in a gay bar in Orlando. I have had no words for a day, and still have no worlds to express my grief and frustration. This was an act of domestic terrorism and most importantly a hate crime against gays and Latinos, above all else.
Unfortunately as we share our grief, the posturing and the name pointing and the yelling and the generalizations have begun. While I am not an expert on much of anything, I do have some stream of conscious thoughts as the days have progressed:
The evidence at this point shows that this was a hate crime first. There appears to be absolutely no evidence that this was ISIS driven. Did the person involved have sympathies? You bet. But he was also raised by a reactionary, religious father who told him that all gays should go to hell, and has said so since then publicly. Sound familiar? There have been over 200 statements or legal actions by conservatives with similar themes in the last six months. Politicians insult and threaten Hispanics, implying that they are all criminals. Muslims are all radicals. Gays are going to hell, but "We love them anyway". We have leaders in this country that are, in my opinion instigating hate and violence. Why should we be surprised when that's just what happens?
In fact, this is looking more and more like a young man with gender issues who flipped, and decided calling praising ISIS at the last minute might get him some more glory. Personally, I find it convincing that the person in question was a regular at said bar, and that he chose a night that would target both gays and Hispanics (it was Latin night). When you teach people to hate gays, or Hispanics or anything else, you reap what you sow. And frankly a "but God still loves them" at the end of a diatribe is not good enough.
The NRA has this on it's head. The NRA does not believe in more advanced or deeper background checks and has fought them at every turn. A single enhanced background check would have shown that this person had been investigated by the FBI, and he would have failed, miserably. The NRA needs to get it's head out of it's proverbial ass (and yes, I know many of my readers are pro gun). Banning psychos from having assault rifles does not infringe on your right to protect yourself, hunt and kill animals or anything else you want to do.
Assault rifles are instruments of mass destruction. Period. People who are not active duty military do not need them, and very few military people carry assault rifles. People who buy or sell them should be considered as terrorists until proven otherwise. Again, this has nothing to do with the right to protect oneself, shoot at targets or hunt. I am not anti-gun as such.
Although I am pro gun, the truth is that single shooters do not generally stop mass attacks. This is for a variety of reasons, and I'm sure someone will remind me that many are in school zones which are gun free. In fact, the chance of hitting someone else, or being mistaken as a shooter by SWAT is so high, that although there were two armed soldiers at the Oregon tragedy, neither attempted to shoot. One thought he would hit a civilian, the other was afraid of being hit by responders-and these were trained reactors.
The majority of shootings, even mass shootings and bombings in this country are NOT committed by Muslims-homegrown or otherwise. Since 1970, approximately two and a half percent of all such incidents have been committed by Muslims-yet we want to spy on our citizens, stop them from emigrating and bomb ISIS, just because. Even Jewish extremists have committed more terrorists acts than Muslims. In fact, Muslims are the primary victims of terrorism and military attacks in the world.
For those who are not familiar, as a country, the US supports one of the most radical forms of Islam (Sunni) over other sects who are less reactionary, and even over so called Arab secularists. Easy to look up. That's right, in Iraq we support the most conservative, least moderate group of Muslims, even to the point of arming them.
Last year, a young, southern, right wing reactionary good old boy shot at a church full of people, just because he could. He was a terrorist. Period. And yet, the stars and bars is not a symbol of hate, and no one is tearing down flags, spying on, or hunting down all the other conservative white boys who might have similar views. No one thinks he should have been denied use of a gun.
I live in Colorado. Not so many years ago, a red haired, wild looking young man walked into a movie theater and killed and permanently maimed untold numbers of people. That was an act of terrorism. Created and carried out here. Awhile back, a group of men took a town hostage because one of their friends had been arrested. That was terrorism. Period. Most American terrorist are home grown, created by their environment, and use the Christian Bible and the second amendment as their justification. Not the Koran.
Terrorism is terrible, and public, and scary. Really scary. Refusing to go out is not a solution. We do not need to hide in fear. In America, we have a higher chance of dying from alcoholism, obesity, medical mistakes, sexual promiscuity, a car accident or brain eating diseases. In other words, the only way to be completely safe is to wrap ourselves in batting. Terrorism accounts for one or two percent of the deaths in the US, with gun accidents alone counting for a much higher percentage. There are thousands more children killed in gun violence than people who die from bombings or mass shootings. So while we grieve, let's not moan about how it's not safe to go out, the world is ending, or any other platitudes. On the other hand, lets pay more attention to what's going on around is, and the crazy guy in the room down the hall. Get past our hesitation to intervene, and mind someone else's business.
And finally, this: The US has fifteen percent of the world's population, and well over thirty percent of it's mass shootings. The only country that comes close in the western world for even one year that I'm aware of is Norway-and that's because one man killed many more than fifty people-and the population is minute. We even have a higher per capita rate of mass shootings and gun violence than some third world countries.
Perhaps it's time for a change?