Monday, June 12, 2017

A Night of Terror, a Year of Racism

Today is the anniversary of the Pulse night club massacre in Orlando, Florida, where 49 young gays and some of their family members were murdered seemingly simply because the were LGBT.  In the year since, things have not gotten better for either gays or those suspected of being Muslim (e.g., the two Hindus murdered in Oklahoma by a man who thought they were Muslim).  In terms of LGBT rights, Congressional Republicans continue to consider a falsely named "religious freedom" bill that would legalize anti-LGBT discrimination, Texas's governor has called a special legislative session in order to ram through an anti-transgender bathroom bill, and Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenführer, has rescinded Obama administration executive orders granting LGBT employees non-discrimination protections and through long time anti-gay zealot, Betsy DeVos, is seemingly opening the door to increased anti-gay bullying in our public schools.  As icing on the cake, over the weekend white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and hate groups rallied against Muslims and by extension anyone who wasn't white and Christian.  It would seem that as a country, many learned nothing from the Pulse tragedy, including Der Trumpenführer who, despite his boast immediately after the Pulse massacre has proven to be a dangerous foe to the LGBT community.   An op-ed in the New York Times by a a recent college graduate who had been a Pulse regular looks at some of the ugliness.  Here are excerpts:
A year ago today, a mass shooting during a Latin-theme dance night at Pulse, a popular gay bar in Orlando, Fla., left 49 people dead, more than 50 injured and the city — particularly its L.G.B.T. and Latino communities — shaken.
I woke up to about 60 notifications on my phone that morning. Most were from friends and family asking if I was O.K. My mother was crying, worried I had been at the club.
A drag queen from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” who I love, performed there that night, so it was entirely possible. Three years before, as a freshman at the University of Central Florida, I often went to Pulse with my new college friends, all of us L.G.B.T. in one way or another and looking for a sense of community that seemed out of reach in straight daylight.
I remember being amazed by the swift and empathetic response from the city and much of the country. The shooting started at 2 a.m., and by the time most of the city was waking up, so many volunteers had headed downtown to help that blood donation centers were turning people away. Politicians of all stripes, including those who hadn’t seemed particular pro-L.G.B.T. or supportive of Latino communities, spoke of solidarity. Rainbows were painted all over Orlando; many still remain on the walls of the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola or on the sides of police cars.
As a gay person of color, I found something truly comforting about this response. Part of me felt accepted, understood and even coddled in the midst of this harrowing event.
Another part felt more targeted than ever. . . . . My mom is from the Dominican Republic, where I spent most of my childhood. I speak fluent Spanish and have been known to cook a mean rice and beans with tostones. But my dad is from Pakistan, and from him I inherited a thin nose, dark eyes and a full beard of coarse hair. I am used to being treated as a suspicious person.
When I fly, for example, my Spotify playlist is usually interrupted by a T.S.A. agent letting me know I’ve “been selected for additional screening.”
This stereotyping has gotten much worse since the Pulse shooting, because despite the outpouring of support for L.G.B.T. and Latino people, the tragedy became an excuse to vilify Muslims before the 2016 presidential election.
The day of the shooting, before most of the victims were identified, Donald J. Trump, then a candidate, tweeted: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” From that moment on, it was clear that the tragedy would not become a reason to champion noble or productive causes like gun reform. Instead, it would become Exhibit A in Mr. Trump’s justification for a ban on Muslims entering the country — despite the fact that the shooter was an American and Muslim refugees have not killed anyone in the United States.
The Pulse nightclub shooting was a terrible act of violence against a marginalized group of people. Attacking another marginalized group is not the way to prevent more shootings, or to help survivors heal. 

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