My heart is with our fellow Americans in Orlando. Last month I was there for the Libertarian National Convention. What has happened is surreal, even for those of us that don't live in nearby. For the injured, continue to fight for your lives -- the compassionate and loving are with you in spirit. For the grieving, I'm so sorry this happened to you and your loved ones. I'm also so very sorry for the national response to this tragedy you're about to endure.
Nearly 12 hours ago, 300+ revelers were brutally slaughtered by a monster. 50+ are dead, gone, never to live, laugh, or love in this world again. More fight for precious life right now. Keep them in your thoughts or prayers, if you're the type.
As with most all early tragedies, we don't clearly know the victims, monster, motive, tools, or timeline. "Suspected", "alleged", "supposed", "believed", "thought to", "sources say", and "possibly" buttress each claim.
30 minutes of wall-to-wall BBC coverage taught me: Afghan-US-born-Islamic-radical-male-licensed-gun-owner-trained-shooter-hated-homosexuals-pledged-to-ISIS-used-only-machine-gun-and-handgun-all-legal-FBI-list-ISIS-warned-us-May-22nd. 60% will be true when the dust settles. The politically active know this cycle. We maintain skepticism and patience for facts. Please join us.
Because the talking meat-heads, media elitists, and political ruling class are already gnashing teeth and politicizing their biases. Whipped up by the media, armed with bare essentials and rarely challenged beliefs, social media will be flooded by those satiating their perpetual hunger for bias confirmation. Before the investigation is even 12 hours old. Think about that. Millions will dedicate precious hours arguing over misinformation that is often later revealed as "fact" or "fiction" (initial narratives rarely adjust).
Too many will not grieve or take a moment to reflect on the tragedy. Instead, many will allow righteous anger to govern over reason.
I predict the following exchanges to dominate: See, Islam is EVIL! No, Islam is a religion of PEACE! "See, this is why we must BOMB the Middle East into the Stone Age". "No, Muslims worldwide are not the issue. It's RADICALISM." Some will say all RELIGION is the problem. Americans will rattle their sabers. "Enough talk. We need boots on the ground in Iraq." You see, armchair warriors will say this THIRD INVASION will be okay because the ISLAMIC STATE is EVIL incarnate and "we've (mostly others, not the commentator) got to DO SOMETHING!". Active Duty VETERANS will HUG their families closer tonight. Some will wait anxiously for their third, fifth, or eighth DEPLOYMENT order to drop. Politicians will exploit both sides to earn VOTES.
Some will say IMMIGRATION is the PROBLEM. "No! The criminal was a US CITIZEN." See, this is exactly why I said we can't allow SYRIAN REFUGEES in OUR COUNTRY! Some will argue the criminal's parents were from AFGHANISTAN. Few will JUSTIFY the continued OCCUPATION of that country because of this ATTACK. "This is enough. We need mass deportations and to BUILD A WALL." Others will say that's not the answer. Politicians will exploit both sides to earn VOTES.
Some will blame "MACHINE GUNS". "Assault weapons! When are we going to do something about gun laws in this country!?" Some will call for BANS. Some will counter with per capita STATISTICS. Others will shout about RIGHTS. Foreign media will preen over their "superior laws". Some will buy up reserves preparing for WASHINGTON and gun manufacturers to price gouge. Others will get concealed carry permits. Politicians will exploit both sides to earn VOTES.
Perfect example. After their obligatory "we're so sorry for this tragedy tweets, both Trump and Hillary sent tweet after tweet politicizing the deaths of innocent Americans. These are just a few. I applaud Johnson, though I do not support him, for remaining silent as we even processed our grief and shock. That requires class, dignity, civility, and emotional intelligence.
Many will help make this murderer a celebrity. Non-stop coverage, plastered social media photos; a martyr's dream. Future criminals will become envious or inspired. Future blazes of glory will be planned. The Islamic State will exploit this tragedy to bolster their ranks. "This righteous warrior is doing Allah's work! Now, the US and West will come attack us. They hate Muslims. We are your only hope." Just as they've always promised.
Few will ask why our mental illness infrastructure, the same poor system that could've stopped multiple attackers, is so insufficient and pathetic. Few will ask how we can improve it. Few will question the legacy of American interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East. Those questions are less sexy, less radical, less rage-inducing and hysterical. Fewer will ask how the attacker slipped by the largest spying apparatus in human history if he was on the FBI radar "for years"? Because we rarely let reason govern, at all.
Worst, most will hardly focus on the VICTIMS. VALUED, LOVED, CHERISHED names will casually tick across the bottom of our screens in a few weeks. EXCEPTIONAL lives are the only that will receive a mere fraction of the criminal's coverage. Most that know and love someone from the LGBT community will care and share. Others will just change their profile pictures to rainbows. Hopefully, many more will reach out to our fellow Americans in solidarity and commit to speaking against the archaic views that keep all affected communities fearful.
For now, can we stop ranting on social media about unsubstantiated "allegations"? Let's donate blood. Let's reach out to those we know in Orlando, Florida, and encourage them to do the same. If we know someone suffering from mental illness or rage, let's both pick up the phone and call them. Let's turn off our televisions and starve the media of our attention. Let's let the investigations continue, remain skeptical and patient. Let's ignore the pundits. Let's walk outside and appreciate the sunshine, life, and gratitude for this day we're on this earth in honor of those that no longer have that gift. The next one is never promised.
We are all better than this hysteria. We can break the cycle. Please let's take a moment to ponder, grieve, reflect and share genuine sympathy for those senselessly slaughtered by an evil criminal. Let's let reason govern over rage, even if it's justified, for once.