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In the Wake of Tragedy

June 14, 2016

In our current state of shock at the latest tragedy, the mass shooting in Orlando, I am upset as millions of others are at these horrific events, but also at how quickly they are turned into political jargon and posturing!

I hate how quickly the talking heads on TV discover each shooter’s “alleged” ties to Islamic radicalism and how many people after each tragedy presumably knew their murderous intent!

When the terrorist attacks took place in Paris last year, I immediately went to the computer and began to write to the victims and their families, but before I could post one-word thousands of others started to publish hate-filled rhetoric and typical political jargon. These counter-productive post blamed our President and Democrats before the world even knew who was officially responsible for the attacks themselves!!!

Are we so accustomed to these tragedies that it has become all too familiar to assess blame without the complete facts? Are we so fixed on our ideology to hate Islam and our skewed view of its supporters that we are prepared to hate before we are even willing to mourn the victims in each and every tragedy?

Changing our Facebook profiles to reflect the French Flag, posting peace symbols or supporting gay rights themes for a few weeks does not absolve us from the responsibility of knowing the truth, hate is the real culprit, and ironically it does not discriminate!!!

I got so overwhelmed by the sheer idiocy of the post I was reading in the wake of the Paris attacks that I stopped writing my original, heartfelt post. It is so much easier to post hate and wrongfully assess blame than it is to be bigger than the moment and try to post hope, encouragement, love or even sorrow!

In the fever of an election year, we tend to sensationalize these tragedies at the expense of the victims and their families. No politician is beyond using these events as a platform to push their agenda and to use society’s angst and disappointment to incite hate and get their message across regardless of the long term ramifications.

As you read these words you have no doubt been listening to hundreds of talking heads, some wittingly some perhaps unwittingly spreading the notion that this latest attack in Orlando is the worst attack in U.S. history. We’ll get caught up in the technicalities of mass shootings vs. bombings, hate crimes vs. terrorist attacks, but don’t forget the fact that senselessly killing the innocent of any race, culture, gender or sexual orientation is a crime!

In our enthusiasm as average citizens, celebrities or politicians to turn this latest tragedy into a political agenda and focus on Islam or target Muslims let us remember Oklahoma city. The Oklahoma City bombing was the second most devastating attack on American sole (2nd only to 9/11) came at the hands of a White American with Christian affiliation who killed indiscriminately 168 people and wounded 600 others!
In the wake of latest tragedy, we have a tendency to get caught up in petty grievances and mismanage our anger. Some are so fixated on terrorism and radical extremism that they’re willing to phrase what can tragically be a hate crime into domestic terrorism and thus turn it into political jargon for posturing prowess in a political debate!

What we all fail epically to understand in the wake of these tragedies is that all of these tragedies are “hate crimes,” terrorism, mass shootings, bombings, whether they happen in the states or around the world, all are both acts of terror and hate crimes!

Why do we chronicle the citizenship of terror victims killed in other countries? If the bombing killed 130 people why do we focus on the 5 American lives lost? Are we so fixated on demonizing Islam or anyone with a foreign-sounding name that we disregard the fact that many of the suspects are born and raised in the U.S.?

Perhaps the most profoundly saddest thing to come out of the wake of these latest tragedies is the fact that it only incites more hate and division?!?!

I am a 45-year-old heterosexual Black man who has no issue with recognizing the Orlando attacks as potential hate crimes against gay/lesbians. Everyone is quickly condemning these attacks and speaking out in support of the gay/lesbian community, but how may people share the same outrage at unarmed minorities being killed while in police custody or questionable shootings involving minorities killed by law enforcement?

The sad thing about these cases is that we don’t even consider them a crime because of victims in the cases. I don’t have to be gay/lesbian or even agree with their lifestyle (nor do they need my approval) to know that this is a hate crime and wrong!

Hate does not discriminate, but human beings do! I shouldn’t have to be gay to understand that it is wrong to discriminate against someone for their sexual orientation, so why is it so easy for many to disregard the death of an anonymous minority simply because he may have had a record? I’m not trying to validate one tragedy over another, but we need to recognize that they are all a part of the same tragic circumstances in our society allowed to fester due to the overall issue of hate!

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, I implore all not to succumb to the hate-laced rhetoric that would seek to use this tragedy to implant the notion of returning America to a more peaceful or civilized time. When we hear that phrase “make America great again” we have to always ask ourselves a few questions, “who is making the statement?” and “who are they making it ideal for?”

I urge everyone to weigh the words of everyone speaking out so loudly after the fact; our world is filled with too many who seek to use this tragedy for their selfish gain, we need healing, not more conjecture or hate disguised as sympathy.

A tragedy occurred in Orlando; sadly it won’t be the last, but we have to hold onto the most apparent truth we know when disaster strikes, we need to mourn the dead, survivors need to heal, the community is afraid, and fear begets panic and irrational thinking!

I identify as a Democrat, but I am not foolish enough to suggest that anyone who identifies as a Republican is unsympathetic to the overall issues of the fallout of Orlando. I didn’t post my comments in the wake of the Paris attacks, but I must post this now.

While I know it will no doubt get lost in the endless barrage of political rhetoric and people choosing to incite more fear and hate, I’m going to speak out against hate as opposed to spreading it. Whether it was truly Edmund Burke who said it first, I’ll credit him and close with this essential thought, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)”

Even worse than doing nothing is to incite more fear and hatred, in the wake of any tragedy, more fear and hatred is something that we apparently do not need!

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