Heyo! Welcome to today’s Monday Muse.
I’m going to break the rule about politics today. Fair warning. If that’s not why you’re here, don’t read today’s post.
A and I live in Florida. We’re far enough from Orlando that neither of us was in danger, but we’re close enough that we have friends in the area. Friends who very well MIGHT have been in danger. Friends whose funerals we are very, very fortunate not to be making plans to attend in the next few days.
Our friends are alive. But, for fifty people now and perhaps more in the next few days, that is no longer the case.
They are gone. They are gone and they are never coming back.
And it’s because they were at a gay club.
But I don’t want to talk about the shooting itself or the latest scar on my heart. I can’t or I’ll start crying again. I don’t know if it’s because, for the first time, people I know and love could have been hurt, which hits my heart just that much harder, or because it literally happened so close to home. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been an LGBT ally for so long, it’s like people of my own community were attacked on what feels like my doorstep. I don’t know. But this one… this one hurts more than the others. I’m actually having a hard time doing my usual compartmentalizing thing, which is what I usually do to protect myself from overwhelming feelings. People always tell me I seem cold in these situations… but it’s only because all of my faculties are going to staving off the hurt.
It’s so I can function. Because I need to function. Not functioning isn’t an option.
No. I want to talk about the response. Which has infuriated me to no end. Both because it’s a battle over blame when we know who’s to blame, and because fighting over who to blame takes the focus off of what really matters: the victims, and the heroes who stepped up to do what they could, and more, in the aftermath. The people who stood for hours on line in Florida summers (it’s summer here, no matter what the calendar says) to donate blood, who came together to show the world that we will keep fighting against this hate, who helped save lives the night of, and, yes, the emergency services who just did their jobs.
But what, funnily enough, has really stuck with me in my weird cocoon of distance and intellectualism (the product of the aforementioned compartmentalizing thing) is the idea that this is EITHER a gun problem OR a terror one… as if the two are mutually exclusive. As if terrorists of all stripes can’t and don’t take advantage of our lax gun laws to procure their weapons of terror. As if, if we focus on those brown people, we’ll eliminate all the death in this country AND get to keep our egregious number of high-speed projectile machines. As if, so long as Islam is the problem (and, of course, there is only one kind of terrorism and it’s ALL THEIR FAULT), we can shift the blame from and absolve ourselves of our place in this.
This is a confluence of several things. The world is not either/or. We can’t look at this asshole and his asshole act of hate and terror and destruction and blame it all on one thing. We can’t say that the President talking about our gun problem is politicizing and shifting the blame when the “it’s all the Muslims’ fault!” crowd is at least AS guilty if not more so. That putrescent pile of maggots feeding on diarrhea should never have been able to get a gun. Period. His attempts to do so should have gotten him a good, hard look and a denial. That much is true. And, yes, he is a terrorist. I don’t think he did this at the behest of ISIS no matter that those melanomas on the Earth’s surface took credit, but I don’t deny he was influenced by them. But that’s NOT WHAT MATTERS. He is a terrorist because he committed an act of terror for what is undoubtedly a political reason. It just so happens that his reason was homophobia and not that perversion of Islam that is the so-called Islamic State. (And boy am I tempted to take advantage of this “breaking the rules” thing to talk about the double standard applied to Islam. When Muslims ignore the troubling aspects of their religious texts, they’re “not real Muslims”, but when Christians do the same damn thing, it’s because “that part of the text isn’t relevant anymore”. Which is… ugh.)
And don’t even get me STARTED on the onslaught of anti-LGBT speech, legislation, and feeling in this country? You spend so much time and effort dehumanizing, othering, and lessening your fellow human beings because they’re not “legitimate” in your eyes, and shit like this happens. But maybe that’s why it’s so important that the bogeyman is to blame. Why it’s Islam that’s the problem and not us and our laws and our misplaced priorities. Because we’re America. We can’t be wrong. We can’t be the problem. Our nation can’t have problems stemming from the fact that it was created by human beings with all the faults attendant on that humanity? No. It has to be someone else.
I guess the point of the matter is, can we stop treating these things like they’re black and white? People are complex and actions are always a result of context. Now, for the asswipe who murdered 50 people and injured as many more, it’s pretty black and white: the dude was a terrorist, a murderer, and a stain on the human race. But to bandy about “it’s guns” or “it’s Muslims” is to do a disrespect not only to the people who were affected by this horrible act of cowardice, but to the complexity of the world and its many problems.
Hate was the problem here. Hate, and the idea that we’re allowed to act on that hate. But it sure as shit wasn’t helped by our lax gun laws or the assholes across the ocean who decided that their way was the only way to live.
Problem is… there’s assholes like that here, too. And we’ve really got to do something about that. Or else we’re going to continue seeing death everywhere we look. And, eventually, no one is going to be able to say “my friends are OK”.