Our latest American tragedy is a mass shooting with fifty fatalities and over fifty casualties, the result of a one-man rampage at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The unfolding facts suggest that the attacker, a native-born American citizen, was motivated by both an affinity for ISIS and a hatred of gays.
Already many pundits, politicians, and spin doctors are trying to attribute this to a single cause, but I hope we are too smart to fall for their lines. Yes, this is about a significant, ongoing terrorist threat posed by ISIS. Yes, this is about the fact that our LGBT brothers and sisters remain specially vulnerable to acts of hatred and violence. And yes, these shootings were perpetrated by someone who had previously drawn the attention of the FBI, yet was able to walk into a store and buy assault weapons. It all matters, and it all should be a part of America’s national discussion.
Although large-scale shootings may be a distinctly American form of violence, terrorism is not. We share with many of our fellow citizens of the world the experience of terrorist attacks. This is likely to remain our global reality for the foreseeable future.
The Orlando massacre occurs in the midst of an ugly, petty, vulgar presidential campaign. Our economy is shaky, a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet, and climate change poses a terrible threat to our planet and its people. At times, it feels like we’re coming apart at the seams. Previous generations have faced times equally or more dire, however, so it’s up to us to step up and help turn things around. It won’t be easy, but we have no other acceptable choice.