Monday, June 13, 2016
The shooting in a gay nightclub, the largest mass murder in the United States, is a barometer of how the underbelly of the country is erupting with hatred and prejudice.
We are not post-racial. We are not post- homophobia. And we are not post-misogyny.
After President Obama’s election, those who ignored the reality of the depth of bias referred to the country as post-racial. The election triggered the opposite. Racial prejudice, as well as bias, has been blatant and played out in ways that undermine our democratic processes. Think Mitch McConell’s pledge shortly after President Obama’s inauguration that Mr. McConnell’s sole function was to make certain that Obama did not succeed.
We celebrated the relative rapidity with which LGBTQ equality cases successfully moved through our legal system. But we understand now that LGBTQ success triggered extreme violence against that community, as well. Americans' discomfort with varied sexual identities, combined with fundamentalist beliefs that homosexuality and other sexual differences are the result of “sin”, propels angry and otherwise flawed individuals to violence. The Orlando shooter’s pledge to ISIS is a sham. The only thing that ISIS and the shooter have in common is access to deadly weapons and using fundamentalist doctrine as a disguise for hatred and violence. This shooting was not a terrorist act as Homeland Security would define it. This shooting was an extreme homophobic act. Not even a year has past since Obergefell was decided. Those who celebrated before a rainbow colored White House have returned to mourn.
And as Secretary of State Clinton moves toward her nomination and presidential campaign, we can expect a rise in already significant misogyny.
Hatred may not be at higher levels than earlier times. But what has changed is that public expressions of hatred are tolerated and the culture is increasingly narcissistic. Combine cultural intolerance with access to assault weapons and a desire to die in the most notorious way possible, and we have a recipe for large scale, horrific violence against the historically vulnerable.