Monday, June 13, 2016

A Culture Of Hate: Processing the Tragedy of the Orlando Mass Murder

I blame Trump. There, I said it. Let's call this what it is: a tragedy borne of radical right-wing American extremism, promoted by politicians like Trump, and the fear-mongers that rally to their campaigns and platforms. I blame you. You have spent your careers vilifying and demonizing these vulnerable communities—LGBT communities, Latinx communities, and Muslim communities— and you have created the culture of hate that made this vile act possible. You do not now get to blame these murders on an outside threat; you do not get to use this tragedy to fan the fires of fear and promote your divisive agenda. We will not be turned against one another in hatred and fear! This was a quintessentially American mass shooting, fueled by the homophobic, transphobic, and racist bigotry of our own domestic politics.

Right wing republican legislators work tirelessly to curtail the rights of the LGBT community, to deny our access to equal protection of the law. They vilify immigrants, isolating and stigmatizing Latinx communities. These politicians deny our humanity and explicitly advocate for violence against our communities. I refuse to minimize the impact of the hateful discourse promoted by their policies. Make no mistake, the policies espoused by the current right wing of the republican party IS violence. Building a wall is violence. Equating trans women with sexual predators is violence. Deportation is violence. Denying our access to public bathrooms is violence. Closing the borders to refugees is violence. Misgendering us is violence. Racial profiling by law enforcement is violence. Now a home-grown domestic terrorist has embraced those messages of hatred and violence and committed a horrific mass murder. This tragedy is a direct result of the culture of hate and fear promoted by the violence our domestic political discourse. So I blame Trump, his supporters, and all of us for our complacency in allowing this hateful rhetoric to grow to be such a cancer in American culture.

As we move into this contentious general election season, we on the left need to start calling out their hate not only as intrinsically despicable, but also as a root cause of the horrific violence that plagues our communities. Obama, Clinton, Sanders, Warren, Stein—all of them need to step up and call out the right wing for their role in creating this tragedy. And they need to step up and take responsibility for how they too have contributed to the violent hatred of American culture, through their own support of war-mongering foreign policies, drone strikes, and their inadequate responses to domestic racial and economic inequalities.

It is not enough to offer prayers and condolences. It is not enough to call for gun control. I am a supporter of increased gun control in general, but frankly I don’t think that is the biggest issue right now. We just lost 50 precious lives, and forever altered hundreds more, to a culture of hate. We need anti-discrimination legislation, we need to welcome refugees, we need paths to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. We need to call out hateful policies for the bigotry that they are. We need to create a discourse on the left that truly and deeply espouses the values of inclusivity and tolerance, love and solidarity. Our common humanity and pursuit of true equity must be the core value behind everything we do. We cannot stand for homophobia, transphobia, racism, Islamophobia. Our vehement opposition to this bigotry, and all of the policies and rhetoric which promote this violence, must be our primary platform in the coming months.

To my cis-het Muslim friends and family: Thank you for your support and your solidarity. I know this violence and hatred does not represent you or your religion. I will stand by your side to face the impending backlash of Islamophobia.

To my Queer Muslim friends and family: I see you and I love you. You are part of my queer family, and I will not see us divided over this.

To my other QPoC friends and family, and especially Latinx queers: I see you and I love you, and I mourn with you. I apologize for the times when I have fallen short as a white ally, and I pledge to do my best to fight by your side moving forward to combat the toxic racism of our culture, especially as it intersects with homophobia/transphobia to make you a particular target for violence.

To my fellow white Queers: Let us grieve, but also let us acknowledge the ways our own privilege has contributed to this tragedy. We need to recognize the way the assimilation and growing acceptance of homonormative white gay/lesbian culture contributes to the marginalization of QPoC and Trans/GNC folks. And us white, privileged, afab trans folks need to be especially aware of how the transmisogyny in our own communities contributes to the violence against trans women of color. We cannot grow complacent or complicit as the most vulnerable members of our Queer family continue to suffer. We need to do better.

To my cis-het white friends and family: Step up. You prayers and love and grief and solidarity are welcome, but they are not enough. Use your privilege and the relative safety it provides you to speak out and act out. Do not tolerate hatred or bigotry in your communities. Speak up at the office, at school, at church, at a coffee shop. Call your elected representatives, campaign against politicians who espouse hate. Donate your blood, your money, your time, whatever you are able to give, to the community that was harmed by this tragedy and all of the other instances of violence that don’t affect you directly. Many of you are already doing these things, and for that I thank you. To those who aren’t, to those who have hesitated to speak up, out of fear or preoccupation or apathy, I’m calling you out. Your silence, your complacency, is unforgivable.

To all my beloved friends and family, of all religions, races, genders, and sexualities—now is the time to stand together. Let us join hands and show the world that we will no longer stand for bigotry in our communities. We will not let hate beget hate. Trump thinks this tragedy proves him right, let us join together to show the world just how wrong he is. 

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