Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

America cannot dismiss the "hate" that caused Orlando

A number of emotions were running through my head this past weekend as my social media timelines were filling up with the news of the shooting at a gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando. The gunman opened fire inside of Pulse around 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, killing 49 people and wounding 53, making this the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Words cannot express the absolute disgust and contempt I feel about how the country has been handling mass shootings. But the case of Orlando is different. Orlando was a hate crime.
CNN, the New York Times, Fox news, and any other news outlet will tell you that the gunman was an ISIS sympathizer. They will tell you that he pledged allegiance to ISIS before he was shot down and killed by the Orlando police. Donald Trump will blame the Muslim population for this attack and tweet out, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism,” hours after 49 people just got killed. But very few will describe the incident using the words “hate crime.”
The gunman, Omar Mateen was a homophobic. According to his father, he was angered by the sight of two men kissing in Miami a few months ago, which is suspected by his father to have been his motive for the shooting. Mateen’s actions, shooting civilians in a gay nightclub during gay pride month, cannot be denied or put off as simply “coincidence” of who he was targeting.
It’s too easy for America to blame ISIS. It’s too easy for America to blame Islam. It’s even too easy for America to cry, “more gun control!” We need to look at the crime for what it is: a hate crime. A hate crime that is able to be carried out in the violent and prejudiced society we live in.
Just because gays can legally get married does not mean that homophobia doesn’t exist. America puts so much trust in our own legal system that we believe the lie that if the laws change, the culture will change. We place the fear of ISIS and the rest of the Muslim population over our own LGBTQ+ citizen’s fear of living.
America is so good at playing the blame game when it comes to mass shootings. In the November 2015 Planned Parenthood shooting, the gunman was “mentally ill,” even though he admitted to his anti-abortion views during his court hearing. In the case of the June 2015 Charleston shooting, where white supremacist Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people in a historic black church, Roof was also “mentally ill” and another case in which we “need more gun control.” And finally in Orlando, it’s ISIS’s fault and we STILL “need more gun control.”
Why are we so eager to deny and ignore the hatefulness that fills this country? Why are we so eager to make excuses for mass shootings when the fact of the matter is, some are hate crimes. The hatefulness towards certain groups of people that don’t live our similar lifestyles. The hatefulness towards those we know nothing about except how they are portrayed by the American media.
Orlando may be a combination of terrorism and hate. But we cannot dismiss the hate. We cannot dismiss the fact that there are people in this country whose lives are threatened every day by prejudices that exist in this country. No one should fear being themselves. America was founded on the ideology of freedom, but this “freedom” means nothing if you are in fear of simply existing.

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America cannot dismiss the "hate" that caused Orlando