Omar Mateen, 29, an American-born Muslim man, walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, June 12, and gunned down 49 people. It was probably the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11, authorities said.
Orlando Police shot and killed Mateen. Mateen was known to be sympathetic to the Islamic State (ISIS), and had been investigated for it. Despite this, given the US’s lenient gun laws, he managed to procure two guns legally — the fact that he was employed as a security guard probably helped.
He perpetrated yet another senseless, obnoxious massacre. No words of condemnation are sufficient for such acts of terror, whether Mateen was driven by his warped fundamentalism or not.
His ex-wife suggested that he was mentally ill. It was noted by his family members that he had recently been angered by two gay men kissing in public, when he was out with his child.
His father said that the massacre had "nothing to do with religion". None of this excuses Mateen — and his ilk.
Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for the US presidency, had no hesitation linking the tragedy to religion: he smugly tweeted that while he accepted "congratulations" (for being supposedly prescient about the danger from radical Islam), what Americans need to do is be "smart" to avoid such tragedies.
He did not suggest what kind of smartness is required from Americans: as smart bombs have largely failed, I guess what he meant was that Americans should be smart enough to elect him.
It struck me that most of Trump’s core supporters are not really pro-LGBT rights, and at least a number of them are openly hostile to gays, transsexuals and lesbians.
Trump has been a consistent opponent of marriage equality; that is, the right of homosexuals to marry each other.
True, unlike most of his close supporters, he once said he supported protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in the workplace, but more recently he has also expressed support for the so-called First Amendment Defence Act (FADA) which would expose LGBT people to even more discrimination.
Hence, Mateen, despite being a Muslim and the son of an immigrant from war-torn Afghanistan, fitted into a long history of homophobia in the US and elsewhere — homophobia that is shared by fundamentalists of all religions, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Hindutva-Hinduism included.
Note: Mateen selected a gay nightclub as his target. When I think of this sad history of homophobia in the US, I am reminded not only of minor incidents — which happen so often that most are not even reported: such as the great American playwright, Tennessee Williams, getting beaten up by teenagers. Many LGBT persons are assaulted in the US every year.
In 2014, the FBI reported that 21 per cent of all hate crimes reported to police in 2013 were founded on real or perceived sexual orientation.
Most of these are homicidal attacks, and involve one or two deaths; some are premeditated murders. The usual pattern is that of a homosexual or transsexual person being attacked by one or more heterosexual men and stabbed, shot, strangled or ludgeoned to death, as happened to Kendall Hampton, a 26-year-old black transwoman, in 2012.
This list is horrifically long, and the perpetrators are often the kind of white supremacists who form a large section of Trump’s backing.
|Omar Mateen, the man who opened fire at a gay club in Orlando.|
For instance, on July 1, 1999, gay couple Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder were murdered by white supremacist brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams in California.
There was even a case of a father beating his four-year-old son to death, in order to teach him not to be homosexual!
And there have been cases of group attacks too. On September 22, 2000, Ronald Gay entered a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia, and opened fire on the patrons, killing Danny Overstreet, and severely injuring six others. He was motivated by hatred of homosexuals and his surname.
On July 30, 2006, six gay and gay-friendly men were attacked with knives during the San Diego Gay Pride festival. One victim was injured so severely that he had to undergo extensive facial reconstructive surgery.
On March 24, 2012, several transgender and cross-dressing people were shot at and robbed in Florida by an unknown suspect; one man was fatally wounded.
There are also a number of other reports of attacks on LGBT gatherings.
This, of course, is not to excuse for Mateen, whose father is both right and wrong: the massacre has "nothing" to do with religion, but it is also true that religion — not just Islam — is used to persecute homosexuals.
On the other hand, if Trump wants us to take his concern seriously, he has to do more than blame "radical Islam". He has to come out in support of LGBT rights and lifestyles.
Does he have the guts to do so, or will he play it safe — and "smart"?
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)