John McCain said that President Obama was “directly responsible” for the massacre in Orlando. He later back tracked slightly, saying he “misspoke,” and clarified that the president’s foreign policy led to the attack on a night club in Florida. But maybe Senator McCain and the rest of the Republican party should take a good long look in the mirror. Because if Obama’s foreign policy is partly to blame, then the Republican domestic policy is too.
For decades John McCain and other Republicans have used hateful and divisive rhetoric when talking about the LGBTQ community. They’ve attempted to deny them their civil rights, described their relationships as “non-traditional” (read: not normal), demonized the so-called “gay agenda” and in general used coded language to describe anyone who doesn’t fit the straight white christian mold. You can’t pretend away these realities.
The truth is that the shooter was an American citizen. He was not trained in a terrorist facility overseas. He was not radicalized by some firebrand imam in Iraq. No, he was born in New York and split his childhood between the suburbs of New York City and Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Yes, he pledged allegiance to ISIL. But he also claimed links to al-Qaeda, bragged about joining Hezbollah and voice support for al-Nusra Front — groups with very different and often conflicting goals and views of the “war” with the West. In fact some of these groups are openly hostile to each other. So no, I’m sorry, you can’t write this off as some ideological terrorist who embraced jihad against America. He barely understood what he was pledging allegiance to.
That didn’t make him any less dangerous, but it does make it much harder to simply label him a radical Islamist and move on. What he was, was a confused angry man who internalized messages of hate from many different sources. Some of them religious. Some of them political. Some of them from jihadist websites. And some of them from the very people elected to Congress or running for president.
I’m not going to claim to speak for the LGBTQ community. But no member of the community I’ve come across at least is laying the blame for the attack purely on some perversion of Islam or some external terrorist threat. If anything, that is viewed as a distraction. “Radical Islam” is a convenient plot point that allows Republican lawmakers to shirk responsibility, rather than admit their own cultural and legislative role in the worst mass shooting in American history.
Personally, I don’t blame John McCain or the Republican party for the shooting. I think the points above are valid, but that doesn’t make them complicit in mass murder. That being said, if they want to start pointing fingers, might as well start with a mirror and some honest self reflection. Because if we can’t recognize and admit where we failed, then there’s no hope in fixing the problem.
Disclaimer: I am a straight white male cisgender Democrat. Read the above with that in mind.