It has been excruciating to watch the news streaming from Orlando in the aftermath of the horrific slaughter of innocents early Sunday morning at the night club, Pulse. All of the mass killings have touched me deeply: Sandy Hook, Paris, Santa Bernardino, Columbine… This one, however, elicits a unique breadth of pain and dread. It is an election year and the polarization in America is deep and seems intractable.
Already the President is being castigated for not calling the attack “radical Islamic terrorism.” And, of course, the NRA will chant, “if someone in the crowd had a gun they could have taken him down.” Blame the victims? We learned almost immediately that the killer had a license to own the weapons and got them legally, and that he was mentally unstable but had never seen any mental health provider. No existing or proposed gun laws would have prevented him from doing what he did. We can’t regulate ourselves out of the morass of distrust and hatred into which we have been dragged, though we must not stop trying.
Further, this is not about the faith of Islam. I have participated in numbers of inter-faith dialogues, and every Muslim I know is devastated about this massacre, and doubly so: it reflects wrongly and badly on the character of their faith and further alienates many persons of shallow spirit. We even have an aspiring leader of the nation who gloats that he was right about Islamic terrorism, and scores of political opportunists who will try to capitalize on it.
At the heart of it all is the religious and cultural disdain and hatred of LGBTQ persons. Two hundred anti-LGBT laws have been introduced in our legislatures, and not by Muslims! How can we make light of our nation’s founding principle that all are created equal and endowed by the Creator with life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Is America sick? It is time to take our national, ethical and spiritual pulse.
Rev. Rollin Russell