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Why Do They Hate Us? On the Orlando Tragedy

Jun 13, 2016 — Categories: ,

Hate is by definition not a reasonable, rational thing. Yet it is a powerful motivator that causes untold suffering for so many people who are regarded as “other,” as marginal. In the case of the Orlando massacre at a gay bar, the hatred is about homophobia. Make no mistake: laws that seek to intentionally perpetuate discriminate against LGBT people, churches that continue to deny us acceptance as full members, individuals who deny us services in public commerce and defend their right to do so with religious arguments— all of these contribute to a culture in this country that accepts discrimination and homophobia against us and opens the door to individual acts of hatred and violence.

Hate is by definition not a reasonable, rational thing. Yet it is a powerful motivator that causes untold suffering for so many people who are regarded as “other,” as marginal. In the case of the Orlando massacre at a gay bar, the hatred is about homophobia.

Make no mistake: laws that seek to intentionally perpetuate discrimination against LGBT people, churches that continue to deny us acceptance as full members, individuals who deny us services in public commerce and defend their right to do so with religious arguments— all of these contribute to a culture in this country that accepts discrimination and homophobia against us and opens the door to individual acts of hatred and violence.

This was an act of homophobia carried out by a wanna-be terrorist who is identified as a Muslim but not particularly religious. Nonetheless it will be met with more Islamophobia. And the cycle continues.

Now the Orlando shooting at the gay club is an “act of terrorism.” Because the shooter was a Muslim? If the shooter had been a white Christian, would the media and the government label this an act of terrorism? I doubt it. More likely “a tragic mass shooting” just like all the others.

One of my neighbors, telling me about the news of the Orlando shooting, explained, “Well, you know Muslims hate gays.”  My response was that what I know is that Christians hate gays. She was taken aback. I explained that my experiences of homophobia have come from Christians I know, not from Muslims I know. The point is that it does us no good to continue to generalize that any particular religious group believes or does anything en masse.

But just to untangle this abhorrent act a little further. The shooter’s ex-wife clearly describes him as a batterer whose physical abuse of her drove her from the marriage. She suspects that he was bi-polar and perhaps he was.  Perhaps he was mentally ill. But his homophobia was not a mental illness. The target of his anger and hatred was something he chose. He was able to purchase a semi-automatic assault rifle legally because Congress refused to extend the assault weapons ban in 2004. The fact that I can walk into a store and buy a military grade weapon whose only purpose is to kill a lot of people as quickly as possible is unacceptable in a civilized society.

There are people whose beliefs and conduct I abhor. Generally I try to avoid them or work to insure that they do not harm other people. But I don’t get to deny them their personhood or their life.

Love of neighbor is the common theme of all the  world’s great religions. Yet somehow we struggle to live out this tenet of faith. What “deeply held religious belief” can take precedence over love of neighbor? You don’t have to like us, understand us, or appreciate us. But you do have to treat us with the respect and dignity that all persons deserve.

Recently I have been quoting St. Augustine who said that hope has two daughters: anger and courage.I am no longer quoting him; I am making my own statement.

Hope has two mothers: anger and courage.

In the face of this massacre of gay people in Orlando, anger and courage are the appropriate responses and the only things that give us any hope for the future.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
www.FaithTrustInstitute.org
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P.S. Read and share my recent blog about Ramadan called "Ramadan for All: We Are In This Together."

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Why Do They Hate Us?

Posted by gail crouch at Jun 13, 2016 05:19 PM
Amen and amen sister Marie. Anger and courage must be our response!

A Connecting Piece

Posted by Dee Miller at Jun 14, 2016 01:06 PM
Where you find the energy to take things on so eloquently in real time I wish I knew, Marie!

What you've said here is all related to Adverse Childhood Experiences. That part was captured by another blog writer. http://www.acesconnection.com/[…]/time-and-again-this-time-orlando

Naming Homophobia & Islamophobia

Posted by Allyson McKinney at Jun 15, 2016 07:06 PM
Thank you, Marie, for identifying and illuminating the critical and deeply rooted problems evidenced through the recent tragedy in Orlando. Authorities have been slow to recognize the motive of the shooting, but the assailant's history of homophobic comments makes this animus clear. And his denigrating comments about women, Jews, and other minority groups is a reminder that all forms of discrimination are interconnected, that they all result from refusal to recognize the full humanity and worth of the "other." As some rush thoughtlessly to pin these sins exclusively on Muslims, you've wisely reminded us of the danger of meeting hatred with hatred, or overlooking how these social ills have manifested themselves across traditions. We must also resolve not to countenance prejudice, even (especially) prejudice that claims justification based on religious beliefs-- no matter the religion.