Yesterday, we learned about what is being called the worst mass shooting in United States history. Today, while more victims are being identified, I am finding it hard to comprehend what has happened. Innocent lives were taken, and that is unacceptable. Mostly, I am saddened by the events of this weekend, and frightened by what it means for the United States.
As we all know, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee and he has been calling out Muslims and radical Islam since his campaign started. Now that ISIS has taken responsibility for the shooting in Orlando, I can only imagine what will happen in the months to come. It is horrible that people are using what happened this past weekend to preach hate, and I’m not sure it does the victims any justice. But, because this is what I have observed, here is my take on it.
In the 30 deadliest single day mass shootings in US history, I could only find evidence of one being connected to ISIS, and one other that was perpetrated by people classified by the FBI as “homegrown violent extremists.” Three were perpetrated by former members of the US military forces, one was gang related, and one was a white supremacist and Neo-Nazi. Five were committed by teenagers, ranging in age from 16-18. These stats are sad, but where is the radical Islam that Trump has been referencing for months now?
I am not a political science major, or a religious studies major. I am just writing on what I have witnessed in the past few months. I am a history major, and I know that people of any religion can commit unspeakable violence – we have seen it time and time again throughout history. We know what happens when a group of people is targeted and hated based on their religion (the Holocaust did happen). For that matter, we also know that people should not be targeted based on their sexual orientation (again, a thing that happened, and continues to happen).
I think what we need to take away from this incredibly sad weekend is that walls will not help us. What will help us is developing a deeper understanding of our fellow humans, and learning to love instead of hate. Learning to love despite our preconceived ideas about religion, gender, race, sexuality, ancestry. Love is love is love is love is love. Humans are humans. People are people. Life is life.
We can do better.