We all knew it would happen. The moment we heard the sickening news – that a crazed gunman had opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 innocent human beings and wounding yet another 53, we knew what would come next.
Within minutes, there were fingers pointed in every direction. Everywhere, that is, but at ourselves.
It’s so much easier to create a boogie man who lives across an ocean than to face the very real fact that hate lives, breathes, flourishes HERE.
When forced to accept that the perpetrator of this horror was indeed one of us, an American born and bred, we immediately carved out a portion of the population in order to insulate ourselves from blame. There are so many ways to draw the lines – he was of Afghani decent (no matter that he was born on American soil), he must have been radicalized (despite all evidence to the contrary), his faith, we say, while practiced peacefully by 99.9% of its followers, is one so easily perverted into a weapon of intolerance and violence (as are they all).
In his 911 call, the shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS, we are told. We ignore the fact that he called the Boston bombers his “homeboys” and, according to FBI records, had also claimed membership in Hezbollah, as bitter an enemy of ISIS as any other. His rantings made no sense. The FBI has found no evidence that this was a coordinated act.
But it doesn’t matter if he was actually connected to anyone or anything, right? It doesn’t matter … as long as we can say that he’s not one of “us.”
Those people, I heard again and again this weekend – those people will not tolerate anyone whose beliefs differ from their own.
Fear of any THEM hurts every US, I wrote in response.
There is an old adage that I find so poignant in its simple truth: “Every time you point a finger in scorn, there are three remaining fingers pointing right back at you.”
Every single time that I have posted anything here about the LGBTQ community, I have had to delete bigoted, toxic comments. Every. Single. Time. I’ve been called sick. I’ve been told I am an abomination. I’ve been told that Diary is a hateful, intolerant place because I insist on celebrating ‘perverted’ love.
We (yes, “us”) thrive on fear. We feed it to our children and we lap it up like pigs at the trough, buying into the hideous and dangerous premise that one love can somehow denigrate the sanctity of another, that one union could possibly dilute the gravity of another. We weave fairytales in which the victims are the ogres, in which those who for so long have feared for their own safety are painted into violent, villainous creatures that they never were, never would be, because US and THEM excites the electorate, because hellfire and damnation brings them into the Sunday pews.
In 2011, I wrote,
What confounds me the most is that it so often happens in the name of religion. We see it all the time. As far as I’m concerned, intolerance in the name of Christianity is so far perverted from the teachings of Jesus that it would be wholly unrecognizable to Him. For the life of me, I simply don’t get it.
I truly believe – from the bottom of my heart – that the only thing that can be perverse about love between two consenting adults is someone outside of it having the audacity to stand in judgement of it. That to me is perverse.
And yet still it happens. In our churches, our schools, our halls of government and seats of power. In the name of “religious freedom,” we allow queer kids to grow up knowing that coming out, living their truth, being who they are exactly as they were beautifully and perfectly made, might very well be risking their lives. At the very least we tell them that they can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, refused service, and when it happens the victims will be those who did the firing, evicting, and refusing. We even tell them to hold their water, because, damn it, they have no right to urinate outside their own homes.
And yet, when they are targeted, maimed and murdered in a tragedy that is finally too big to ignore, we clutch our pearls and shout, “J’accuse!” at someone else – some other version of our intolerance, some other religion than our own, something, anything that is OTHER than us.
Seven months ago, three presidential candidates, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal, spoke at the National Religious Liberties Conference. They were introduced by Pastor Kevin Swanson, who said this …
“Yes, Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals!” he says as he paces the stage holding the bible above his head. “Yes, Romans Chapter 1 Verse 32 the Apostle Paul does say that homosexuals are worthy of death.”
He then begins to shout.
“HIS WORDS NOT MINE AND I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST AND I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE TRUTH OF THE WORD OF GOD.”
We cannot stand by and watch that, followed by this …
Ted Cruz shaking hands with Pastor Swanson as the latter introduces him to the crowd
or this ..
Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee fawning over Kim Davis
or this …
Westboro Baptist “Church” member holding signs at a funeral reading, “God hates fags,” and “Fags die God laughs.”
or this ..
Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick’s now-deleted tweet hours after the massacre at Pulse reading, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
or this ..
An ominous looking bathroom sign with text reading, “Who’s going to be waiting for YOUR wife and daughter?”
or any of these …
… or any of the thousand more examples of institutionalized discrimination, bigotry, and fear that our LGBTQ family faces every single day and continue to say that it’s only “those people” who will not tolerate anyone whose beliefs differ from their own.
We can point our fingers all we want, but we can’t in good conscience keep ignoring the three fingers pointed back at us.
Editor’s note: This post is not a criticism of either religion or faith. It IS, however, a strong condemnation of either used as justification for bigotry, intolerance, and hate.