It’s Tuesday afternoon. Last Saturday, three days ago, a man massacred 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. I didn’t know any of them personally, but I grieve for them.
My words have been dammed up, closed up inside of me by a conviction that words are not enough. It took approximately thirty seconds for the typical American responses to kick in: mental illness, Islam, ISIS, radicalization.
It took about that long for people who politicized the existence of homosexual, bisexual and transgender people to claim we shouldn’t politicize their deaths when their deaths were so clearly political.
Of course what they mean by politicizing their deaths is actually holding them accountable for their words and actions. They don’t want anyone to look any further than the tissue paper excuses they have for this incident.
They don’t want anyone to see that what you say in this world, the hate you pour into this world, has real and tragic consequences. They spent all this time telling everyone, most especially themselves, that LGBTQIA are the danger. Now we’re all in danger of seeing that they are, in fact, innocent targets. So we have to erase their queerness.
They don’t want you to see that their gun culture is a culture of toxicity, a culture that worships the destruction guns can do. They want you to think that an AR-15 is needed to protect you from a burglar.
They don’t want you to understand that every time there’s a massacre like this gun sales go up. They want you to think there aren’t enough guns. There never will be, you know. Never.
They want you to think this was an Islamic thing, that the shooter was foreign, that the danger is foreign.
It’s not. Political violence is an American tradition. It happens frequently.
Not protesting. Not marching in the streets.
Real violence. With guns and bombs and knives and fists. With real blood and real death.
They want you to think that’s outsiders doing that. It’s not. It’s Americans acting with the full understanding of great swaths of American people.
If you won’t believe that, they want you to think it’s the left doing it. Not right now. There has been leftist violence in this country, but these days it’s mostly right-wingers acting on right-wing rhetoric.
Mostly, though, they want you to think there isn’t anything that can be done about it, that it’s the cost of living in a society. They want you to think that the fact that this doesn’t happen in any other country with a functional government is irrelevant.
This isn’t human nature. Mass murder should be an anomaly. We choose, actively choose, that it be common. We blame everyone else for our failings so that it can continue. We continue to elect the people who support it, who promote the conditions under which it can occur regularly.
The gun lobby, meanwhile, stands there smirking and counting their money.
The hate lobby is grateful that there’s an Islamic connection so that they can pin this on others. They’re about to elect a president on this lie.
And we mourn our dead. Over and over, we mourn our dead.
Words simply are not enough.