Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Politicians Exploit Another Tragedy
Here we go again.
And we're not just talking about the latest horrific crime against humanity.
Early Sunday morning, 49 people were slaughtered at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, while dozens more were injured.
They were shot by a deranged Muslim man reportedly wielding two guns, who was himself shot to death by police during the chaos.
In our reductionist politics of today, and this being an election year, America's two main presidential candidates instantly took off running at the news, exploiting Orlando's tragedy in a pattern of kneekerk blame-pointing and reformist zeal that has become perfunctory within their class. As if we instantly know all we need to know to make a fair assessment of what took place, and why.
Bodies were still stacked - stacked, we were told! - inside bathrooms, while forensics teams and investigators were methodically prepared the site for victim removal. Yet Hillary immediately knew how the slaughter could have been prevented: more gun control. Then Trump trotted out his unConstitutional plan to bar Muslims from entering the United States, at least until we can figure out if they're good Muslims or bad Muslims.
And President Obama shrugged his shoulders: what difference does it make if I go ahead and use the term "radical Islam," he theorized. Of the three politicos, at least it could be said he's in no hurry to rush to judgment, even if he's sounding more and more like an Islamist sympathizer as these Muslim-linked killings proliferate. Meanwhile, if Obama wanted to sympathize with Islam, you'd think he'd want to encourage distinctions between the religion's adherents who say they prize peace, and those who seethe with hatred.
If any doubt remained, Orlando erased it: America's political class - and indeed, the mainstream media covering it - has completely lost focus, if this charade of intentional dis-compassion is meant to pass for consolation. Why the need to jump on gun control so early in the aftermath, just because guns were used? For the Republicans, things suddenly appear even more grim, with their one hope for the White House squawking religious bigotry as if he's some sort of genius.
Meanwhile, as scores of Orlando residents lined up Sunday to donate blood, and as a small army of first responders, investigators, and crime scene analysts combed over the scene of the massacre, restaurants all over the city cooked up trays of food and delivered it to the volunteers, free of charge. Even a local Chick-fil-a, usually closed on Sundays, opened up its kitchen to serve up some hot food and iced tea to the many people who were doing all they could do to help.
No politician scripted that organic reflexive action on the part of Orlando's everyday taxpayers.
As for the shooter himself, eyewitness accounts have surfaced of him patronizing that very gay bar multiple times over the course of months. One former male classmate claims the shooter once propositioned him. The shooter's ex-wife says that during their three-month marriage, he displayed what she called "homosexual tendencies."
Being as devout a Muslim as the shooter's family claimed he was, might he have been conflicted about parts of his sexuality? Some Muslims believe that homosexuality is a sin punishable by death. Might this conflict have eventually led the shooter to act out his inner anguish on a community of people who shared his struggles? And if that was the case, would stricter gun laws have made any difference, especially if he was being self-radicalized by ISIS?
We don't know. Not yet, anyway. All we know is that fifty people are dead and many more wounded in what - for now, anyway - is America's worst mass shooting.
At the end of the day, the Orlando massacre isn't about gun control, or even Islam. And it's certainly not about politics. It's about people who were slaughtered in cold blood primarily because of something as objectionable to their shooter as their sexuality.
Don't try to milk votes out of this.