Today, our nation experienced the worst mass shooting in history. It was a tragic event that has left a nation pondering the rationale behind such an act. The shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS in the middle of the attack. He expressed displeasure with two men kissing to his father after a trip to Miami. There are so many things that could be the catalyst. But one thing is becoming very clear. This was a terroristic act driven by an attitude of hate.
These people were targeted in a place where they came to have fun. They were innocent people out having a good time on a Saturday night in the middle of Gay Pride Month. Many were young. Many were Hispanic since the club was celebrating “Upscale Latin Saturdays.” But none deserved to have their lives cut short because of who they were.
Throughout the day, many politicians have tried to pin this attack on the threat posed by ISIS. But, while the shooter may have been ISIS-inspired, there is no credible evidence it was planned by the radical group nor did he seem to be in a radical mosque in Florida. As Dina Temple-Raston of NPR says, attackers who are ISIS-inspired typically are harboring resentments and reinvent themselves as ISIS followers in the last moments of their lives.
Such was the case with Omar Mateen, so was the case of the young lady in San Bernardino, and so was the case of the Philadelphia attacker. To attach them directly to the threat by ISIS seems to inflate their motives for political gain. More importantly, it diminishes their true motive which seems to be hatred against LGBTQ individuals in the case of Mateen. More will be revealed in the days to come, but all indications seem to point to that hatred as a motivation for this attack.
But, putting the motives aside, more importantly now will be how the nation responds to this attack. It is the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history, surpassing the victim count of the Virginia Tech attack. But it didn’t involve students, although some of the victims were probably students. It didn’t involve children, although some of the victims were fathers and mothers. It didn’t involve those in our armed forces, although some victims probably served defending our country at some point in their lives.
They were citizens of Orlando, of Florida, of America, and of God’s children. They should be remembered as fellow human beings who just wanted to live together in peace. While they may not be with us any more, their memories will live in the hearts and minds of America from this point forward. Let’s honor their memory by working together to help continue to make America a nation of tolerance and understanding,
God, grant rest and peace to those who were taken from us, grant healing and comfort to those who have lost loved ones, grant healing to those who were injured, and grant understanding and guidance to us all.