It was inevitable, really. A mass killing, larger than the last biggest mass killing. It was probably inevitable too, that a minority group of some sort would be the target. With months of hearing debates over bathroom laws, it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise that a gay bar was the target. How much of the Orlando killing spree was a terrorist attack and how much a hate crime, remains to be sorted out.
I do know the legitimization of hate has risen to new heights in this election cycle. While it was a 2nd generation American with roots in Afghanistan, naming ISIS as his reason for mass murder, it was an immigrant preacher from Venezuela, who praised the deaths. Roger Jimenez (who claims to be a Christian) made a point of telling his congregation there was no reason to mourn the people shot in Orlando. Instead, he said he wished more had died. Both have been fed a barrage of anti-gay sentiment. Their purpose was hate. Their need was to attack a group of people who are deemed less worthy, by some in our society.
Whatever the tortured state of mind of Omar Mateen, he latched unto legitimized hate as justification for his decision to carry out an attack. Fueled by ISIS attacks on anyone who is different, he justified himself. Afterwards, Jimenez, latched onto legitimized hate to launch his diatribe against all gay and lesbian people, who he believes are destined for punishment. He says, that God has already put the “death penalty” on them, so why should anyone care.
A few days back, a close relative of an old friend was attacked by a person, who mistook his tanned skin, as that of a Muslim. Feeling righteous anger, the man knocked him to the floor and began to beat him up. He felt his hatred toward Muslim people, legitimized in today’s rhetoric, gave him the right to do injury and harm to a stranger.
It’s not to say I believe in reincarnation, but sometimes I think that in God’s great wisdom, justice would be served by sending Orlando’s shooter and Pastor Jimenez back to be re-schooled in compassion, reincarnated as young gay men in Saudi Arabia or some other intolerant society.
I hope that we come to a consensus on guns, mental illness and better strategies of tracking people who pose a threat to others, soon. More than that, I pray a new attitude of compassion will flow through this country. An attitude which loves, even people who we disagree with – whose life style, may be contrary to our own view of the world. An attitude which refuses to buy into the politics of hate. Jesus had it right, when he said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”