I have made a personal and professional commitment to participate in important public issues and debates. Today I wish I hadn’t. I can’t even. But here goes. This is not the time to politicize, to point blame, right? Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is exactly the time.
The Pulse massacre was a hate crime. In the heart of Pride Month a homophobic bigot acted on his hate, hate fueled, fostered, and upheld by a religious and cultural cadre that must be called out. Everyone in the anti-LGBT rights community has blood on their hands: every “conservative” anti-LGBT preacher and church goer, every politician who’s voted against LGBT rights, every anti-LGBT schoolyard bully, every anti-LGBT blogger or Facebook troll.
The Pulse massacre was an act of gun violence; the worst mass shooting in the history of The United States. Again, ideologues are tripping over each other lumbering up to microphones to make all the tired old excuses. The shooter was a “lone-wolf” who could not be stopped. Reasonable gun restrictions cannot be passed because freedom. Nope, it’s because of NRA cash and radically gerrymandered Congressional districts. The Orlando shooter was known to the FBI for his connections to terror. He was known by local authorities as an unstable and violent domestic abuser. And yet he was free to attain a state gun permit and buy a Sig Sauer MCX assault rifle.
The Pulse massacre was an act of terror. The shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS. Self-serving neocons have already, within hours, stood on the backs of slain victims to shout their anti-Islam bile. Tell me exactly how your insistence on using the term “Islamic-terror” serves any purpose whatsoever to make us safer or “tougher”? The term accomplishes only ONE thing: to make “Islam” and “terror” synonymous. That’s what you really want. That’s all you want. Tell me exactly how desert wars accomplish one damn thing to prevent this and future events.
We are told the shooter was “sympathetic” to ISIS. Not trained, not sent from overseas, not affiliated, but “inspired” by ISIS. That tells me that this is a war of ideas, love versus hate, crazy versus sane. That is a war we can win. It’s time to decide on which side of that war you want to fight.
So, lawmakers, save your crocodile tears. Don’t tell me this was a “senseless” tragedy. Don’t give me your boilerplate bullshit from the podium for the umpteenth time. You can shove your prayers and condolences to the victims and their families. It’s not enough. Not only not enough, but goddamned insulting to the vital needs of the moment.
To my fellow citizens, know that we are largely in agreement on guns. Don’t let the conflict-addicted media and NRA mouthpieces tell you otherwise. Universal background checks are favored by a great majority of Americans, including large majorities of Republicans and even large majorities of NRA members. Commonsense proposals in Congress, like restricting private ownership of assault weapons, also favored by great majorities, are dead on arrival (pun intended). Just a few months ago Congressional Republicans voted down a bill that would deny gun rights to those on terror watch lists. It’s time for Americans to rise up and demand these modest, sensible laws.
Anti-LGBTers, I’ve got no magic words to convince you of the horrific error of your ways. If you cannot be convinced, then you simply must be defeated. We will stand up to you, call you out. You will be shamed in the court of public opinion until you are relegated to a sad, tragic footnote of history.
Charles Bursell is a writer, performer, host and commentator heard nationally on SiriusXM, National Public Radio, and The Pacifica Radio Network. He currently hosts the podcasts Stream of Consciousness Talk Radio Theatre and Conversations With Charles Bursell. Both shows, and more, can be found on several platforms, including Apple Podcasts (iTunes) and Libsyn.com.