Monday, 13 June 2016

Orlando: Tragedy

The mayor of Orlando described the shooting deaths of 50 people in a gay nightclub yesterday as something that “we never imagined and is unimaginable”. It was the worst mass shooting in American history but the mayor was wrong. It was all too imaginable.

From the first shots, barely distinguishable from the pounding music, to the panicked phone calls and the images of the dead and wounded, the process that these atrocities set in motion is horrifyingly familiar. The grieving will take decades, by which time successive massacres will have eclipsed the public’s memories of this one.

Twice as many innocents died in the Pulse nightclub early on Sunday as at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut four years ago. That was the last time the White House and its allies were moved to try to galvanise support for reform of US gun laws. Whether they will try again now remains to be seen, but the Pulse shooting challenges the United States in more ways than by dint of sheer body count. It brings together America’s anguished, heart-on-sleeve debates on gun rights, gay rights, civil rights and terrorism, all at one suburban crime scene.

This mass murder poses a test, first of all, for law enforcement. Local politicians and the FBI suggested that Omar Mateen, identified by police as the dead gunman, may have been a “lone-wolf” terrorist acting with the encouragement of Islamist extremists. If so it would not be surprising.

Since the murder of 14 people by Islamists in California last December, Isis leaders have urged other followers abroad to attack civilian targets when military ones are too heavily protected. Yet this was a gay club on gay pride weekend. The suspect’s father said that his son had recently been angered by the sight of two men kissing in Miami. Discerning the precise motive will do little to console the bereaved, but it might help police to protect the public and politicians to protect the traditions of tolerance that most Americans hold dear.

Times editorial.  

Brace yourself for a tidal wave of sentimental vomit on this.

Edit: We have a winner! This boo hoo squish squish solipsistic guff from Laurie Penny is one of the most barftastic things you'll read.

PS Tuesday's Guardian editorial; Homophobia after Orlando: to fix it, we must first face it.

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