How To Respond To The Mass Shooting In Orlando
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How To Respond To The Mass Shooting In Orlando

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How To Respond To The Mass Shooting In Orlando
Hilary Swift for The New York Times

We are all just heartbroken over the recent mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, which targeted a gay night club. The shooter, who pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack, has angered many people because they see his actions as "the new face of terrorism," yet another act of Islamic extremism. It is my belief that using this lens with which to see the attack is dangerous and offensive.

There is evidence to show the attacker purposefully planned to attack an LGBT community due to his own prejudices, and that his involvement, as it were, in ISIS and his Islamic faith should not play a major role in the characterization of his actions, just as we do not often characterize white, Christian extremists as such.

Here are two reasons why considering Islamic extremism as the main factor in this attack is very, very wrong.

First - doing so ignores the real motive behind this attack. This was a United States citizen who harbored hatred for the LGBT community, and carefully planned his attack in order to kill members of that community. Harking on his ISIS ties and religion negates this fact. The issue becomes an "Us vs. Them" situation, where we all too easily can point fingers at a group or religion, something far away and easily demonized. Thus, we can forget about the homophobia, and throw all fear and anger at some disparate "thing."

Second - doing so diverts the blame from who is really responsible... us. This man, the shooter, was a domestic abuser, and investigated twice by the FBI for terror connections. Yet somehow, in America, in Florida where licenses are needed for weapons of such high caliber as he possessed, this man was easily able to purchase everything he wanted. Let's say that again.

A man investigated for terrorism was able to buy a military grade weapon designed to rapidly kill people.

How... just how? By remarking and concentrating on his religion, and tying this to "hatred of America," we forget that this incident is yet another of many. We have had 176 mass shootings THIS YEAR ALONE in the United States. We have a real problem here, but that problem is not Islamic terrorism. The vast majority of these shootings are done by white men, and yet we are hesitant to call any domestic terrorism, let alone focus on the shooter's religion.

We say this every time, but I hope this is the last; we need to stop this. We need to stop the bleeding. We need to protect our minorities. We need common sense gun regulation. We need to stop treating anything bad done by a Muslim as more outrageous than what's done by white men, white Christians.

We need to change.


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