NEW YORK June 19, 2016/ Troy Media/ – If it were possible to make a bad situation worse, then the rhetoric sputtering forth last week certainly contributed to turning the tragedy of Orlando into full-blown national discord.
What could have united the U.S. in grief instead proved to be a loose thread hanging from the already fragile weave of civility. It was a strand upon which everyone was more than eager to pull.
Three things are crystal clear in the aftermath of the killings at the Pulse nightclub: No one can agree on what to call it, what caused it or what to do about it. Let’s review.
If you’re Donald Trump, you act as any caring human would in the immediate wake of tragedy – you take to Twitter and boast:
“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”
Both U.S. President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton called the shootings an act of terrorism and hate, thus trying to appease those who, for some macabre reason, thought it of critical importance that the worst mass shooting in U.S. history carry with it the primary label of their choosing.
Obama has long shown a rather perplexing reluctance to use the words “radical” and “Islam” in the same sentence. But his refusal in this case to link Orlando specifically to “Islamic” terrorism ruffled more than a few feathers on the right.
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Senator John McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill that Obama is “directly responsible” for the Orlando massacre. He would later backtrack – after a public backlash – and claim he misspoke. But the gist is that McCain blames Obama for “pulling everybody out of Iraq.”
Interestingly, McCain did not place any blame on the president from his own party who put everybody into Iraq in the first place.
But Orlando seems to have brought out the worst in both the right and the left. There has been equal-opportunity lunacy. On the same day that McCain blamed Obama, the New York Times blamed just about everyone except the president – and not just for Orlando but for terrorism in general.
In an editorial, it accused members of Congress beholden to the gun lobby, and most especially the NRA itself, of being “complicit” in domestic terrorism since their policies and positions lead to violently unstable or radicalized individuals being able to buy guns and slaughter people.
To date, Orlando has been blamed on a gun-crazed culture, radical Islamic terrorism, homegrown fanatics, hatred of the LGBTQ community, something called “toxic masculinity” and even on what could happen when domestic violence goes unreported.
This is life in the U.S. on the eve of summer 2016.
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There are times when it feels like a shock is coming – as if electricity is crackling in the air – but it is unclear when, from where or even if there will be a strike. We are living in such times of acute chaos that it is almost foolhardy to try to rationally take stock of where we are and, even more frightening, where we’re headed.
There is no way to get around the sobering proposition that the shootings in Orlando may have shown us the new normal; they may have shown that going to a café, riding a bus or just being in any public space puts one at risk of becoming the latest victim of a deranged fanatic with a gun, a knife or a bomb.
National borders are no longer the defining lines of our planet. We are not Canadian or American; we are not French or British. The fact that we live in western democracies is enough to bind us all together against a global scourge which now rivals in evil anything that modern civilization has witnessed.
Once upon a time, Barry McGuire practically shouted a song written by P.F.Sloan called Eve of Destruction.
That may have been 50 years ago, but it seems an equally relevant observation on recent days.
Troy Media columnist Gavin MacFadyen is a U.S based writer and occasional lawyer. Blending insight and wit, he brings a unique perspective to the issues of the day. Gavin is also included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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