Last Saturday, Orlando was stage to the deadliest mass shooting in American History.
The shooter was Muslim. He apparently harbored a deep rooted hatred for the gay community, yet was able to successfully pass a psychological evaluation, hold a job with a security firm and legally purchase a semi-automatic weapon, despite having been on the FBI watch list as recently as 2014.
Four major issues are implicitly and explicitly contained in the short paragraph above: mental illness, gun control, immigration and terrorism. But the prominent focus of mainstream media, in the immediate aftermath of the attack, before even having concrete evidence pointing to an actual link, was the shooter’s possible ties to Isis. I don’t have a problem with calling a spade a spade, but can we first make sure it’s a spade?
Strong condemnation came from the nation’s Islamic Community. ‘We are sickened and heartbroken by this appalling attack,” said Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He also called the killings a hate crime and reiterated the group has no tolerance for extremism of any kind. This is exactly how the vast majority of Muslims think. They are moderate.
But debates from the anti-Islamic camp on facebook show they clearly have a different opinion.
I was asked how I would separate extremists from moderates. “The same way you separate white people and radical white supremacists.,” I said. Then I was told to wake up.
Maybe I’ve been in the positive news business too long, but I refuse to believe we’re doomed. I don’t care how many mass murders there are, or will be, I refuse, and will continue to refuse, to judge an entire religion based on the small percentage of its followers who uses it as a means to push their evil agendas. Just like I refuse to judge an entire race over the fact some of its people commit drug related crimes. or bundle all Christians together over the crazy talks of a few extremist preachers. And there are plenty of extremist preachers out there, by the way.
Closing the immigration door on millions or persecuted people over the fear that one of them may eventually turned out radicalized is an insane idea. Declaring war on an entire belief system will simply fuel the problem. Denying freedom of religion to those who are already here would be unconstitutional.
I know we, as a nation, are scared. I know we can’t seem to see past our need for self-preservation . Maybe we’re just projecting. Maybe our fear a foreign entity will take over our land is predicated on the fact we, the white man, did this very thing to Native Americans hundreds of years ago. Maybe we’re just terrified that history will indeed repeat itself.
Meanwhile, days later, new information about the shooter is surfacing. Perhaps this wasn’t so much about a Muslim extremist, but simply about a mentally ill individual who struggled with reconciling his own carnal desires with his strict religious indoctrination, a problem that is actually way too familiar in white America.
Except had he been white, we wouldn’t be calling it extremism.