I know what some people thought, the moment they heard it was a Muslim that did it. "Maybe Trump is right," the thinking must have gone. "Maybe we should keep Muslims from entering the country." I also know that some - maybe even many - of the people having those thoughts weren't fans of Trump. Maybe they even felt dirty considering the possibility that the mouthy, intemperate, manipulative, foolish, hate-monger Trump has evolved himself into - in order to appeal to a frightened, ignorant following - might have a solid idea, keeping Muslims from entering the country.
Here's the thing, though, if you haven't heard; this one was born here. Alright, but then I could almost hear the immediate mental retort: "Ok," goes the next thought, "but what about keeping out his parents, who were from Afghanistan? If they don't come in, then he doesn't get born, and..." you get the idea.
The problem with that line of thinking, of course, is that America has a grand old tradition of homophobia, racism and misogyny that we've never needed "foreign" religions to cultivate. We grow haters here on rich American soil, on gold old (extreme, hateful) "Christian" values just fine, thank you very much, without the need to import hatred from other faiths. How many sign-holders at rallies and protests over LGBT issues, with catchy slogans like "god hates fags" and the like, are Muslim? If you guessed: "a very small number approaching zero," then you're close. How many white supremacists have you seen marching against LGBT rights, or against ethnic equality, or, seemingly "just for fun," to shout down people at rallies in sympathy with victims? The KKK was born here and still espouses a version of Christian dogma at its rallies. So we're all filled up on ignorance and hatred, thanks, rest of the world!
Calling this an act of "terrorism" demeans the victims and their families. Calling it an act of terrorism distracts us from the fundamental issue, the one we can't solve with sound-bites and quick "talking head" analysis, one that doesn't grant us the luxury of fast-boiling, righteous anger that we can direct "at terrorism" and feel "good" when that anger ebbs. Calling it terrorism is reductive, easy... even lazy.
The fundamental issue operating here is that there are two Americas. One keeps moving forward, even if it's painful, even if it hurts, even if it means embracing new ideas, new immigrants, new people, and new ways of doing things. It's the America that adjusts, that grows, that does science, that looks to a better future. The other? Well, the other keeps rearing its ugly, pinched face every time we talk about womens' rights. Or suggest that black lives matter. Or argue for equal justice and equal rights for LGBT people. Or rights for workers. Or anything that upsets or frightens that nebulous, angry, fearful bunch who keep looking backwards and thinking that somehow, if they support a loud enough agenda or candidate, that time will reverse. And if they can't have it, they throw tantrums and scream slogans and hold hateful signs and then act "shocked" at events like that in Orlando.
This was a hate crime, and, as long as we keep encouraging hate here, we'll never stop experiencing these crimes.