Tag Archives: homophobia

GOP’s State of Confusion: Anti-LBGT or Anti-Muslim or Both

Confused

OK, I am officially confused. Which is it, does the GOP want to be seen as the champion of conservative religious tenets which hold homosexuality as sin and corruption; or, does the GOP want to be thanked as the protector of homosexuals from the evil-doing nasty folks of IS/Daesh?

Invisible Victims

No matter how hard some conservatives may try to avoid saying LGBT, the attack in Orlando, Florida was made on a GAY nightclub.  As noted previously Representative Dina Titus (D-NV1) was capable of observing this fact; while, on the GOP side of the aisle Representative Cresent Hardy (R-NV4) just couldn’t quite resist the temptation to generalize the victims.  Somehow, Representative Hardy’s lights couldn’t illuminated the fact that the victims were in a GAY nightclub.  He’s not alone.

The Republican National Committee’s first response mentioned “lifestyles,” but even that was edited out of their second edition – now the terror attack was made on “any American.”  Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX)  publically denied Pulse was a GAY nightclub immediately before blocking attempts to provide LGBT protections in a bill before his committee. [TP]

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was blunt: “This body should not be engaged in political games,” Cruz said. “We should be focused on the threat and keeping America safe and defeating radical Islamic terrorism.” [BusIns] Against whom?  Once again, the victims of the horrendous attack were invisible.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was just as vague in remarks made on the Senate floor yesterday — “This week in Orlando, Americans were targeted deliberately and taken  forever from their families by a terrorist ISIL has claimed is “one of  the soldiers of the caliphate.” It is clear from his behavior that this was not a random act of  violence. This was a calculated act of terror.” [LoC pdf]  Scrolling down the entirety of the  Majority Leader’s comments yields exactly Zero references to the victims of the Orlando attacks – patrons of a GAY nightclub.

Yes, it was obviously calculated, and yes, it was an act of terrorism – against the patrons of a GAY nightclub.

Squirrel Logic

But wait, after making the victims of the assault on the Pulse nightclub almost perfectly invisible in their comments about the attack, the GOP would now have us believe they champion GAY rights? Excuse my confusion – I would have thought these people were invisible to you but…

Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL) appears on the scene with this bit of baffling political analysis:  “Democrats are in a perplexing position. On the one hand, they’re trying to appeal to the gay community, but, on the other hand, they’re trying to also appeal to the Muslim community, which, if it had its way, would kill every homosexual in the United States of America,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)” [TPM]

And, far be it from Mr. Trump to pass up an opportunity to stick his oar in the muddied waters:

Donald Trump, in his first major speech after the weekend’s tragedy suggested that Hillary Clinton “can never claim to be a friend of the gay community.”  “She can’t have it both ways,” Trump said. “She can’t claim to be supportive of these communities while trying to increase the number of people coming in who want to oppress them.” Ask yourself, who really is the friend of women and the LBGT community: Donald Trump with his actions or Hillary Clinton with her words?” [TPM]

There seems to be more than a little political semantic gamesmanship here.  The message to the heretofore invisible LGBT community seems to be either you are anti-Islam or you have to be anti-LGBT, there is no middle ground.  This conflation of all practitioners of Islam as anti-gay is as inaccurate as it is distasteful divisive rhetoric.   Those unsure of this might want to consider the following comments by an Islamic scholar in the Dallas Morning News:

“As Muslims we believe there’s no compulsion in religion. That’s actually a Quranic verse. Everyone adheres to their own set of values, their own set of morals. But that should not lead to the oppression of another person or to harming another individual. The way that we talk about that is the way that we talk about anything in the Quran or in the prophetic tradition.

Yes, you’re going to find Muslims that would offer revised interpretations of the Quran. But I think one thing that’s important to stress is that conservative is not the same thing as radical. If a person has conservative views that they uphold within their own family life, so long as that does not lead to denying, belittling, or dehumanizing someone else, then I don’t think that’s particularly problematic.”

Thus much for the lack of middle ground.  Doing a quick inventory – Islam is not a compulsive religion (check), Islam has conservative followers (check), Islam teaches that one’s beliefs may not “deny, belittle, or dehumanize” someone else. (check) Conservatives are not necessarily radicals. (check) Only in the most bigoted way imaginable could a person decide that all members of the Islamic faith are radicals. Only in the most prejudicial manner could a person proclaim that all followers of Islam are necessarily so anti-gay that they could excuse or rejoice in the killing of their fellow citizens.

There may be a second message in the dog whistling coming from these Republican remarks.  It’s  message to their own base.  If the actual victims of the massacre are invisible, and if they can be generalized out of the picture, then it’s possible to believe that all Muslims are radical, and it’s acceptable to “monitor, screen, place them under surveillance, and restrict their freedom and liberty” in the name of public safety for “all Americans” (except the ones we won’t name.)

A third screech from the dog whistle may be aimed at a more general audience.  By creating an artificial “either/or” proposition the GOP can seek to associate Democrats with Muslims.  The inference is that Muslims are dangerous, Democrats support Muslims, ergo Democrats are dangerous.  Their’s is a simple but demonstrably false syllogism which depends on the acceptance of the initial false proposition that ALL Muslims are dangerous. I’m fond of calling this Squirrel Logic: Squirrels have hair on their heads. That man has hair on his head. Therefore, that man is a squirrel.

A Broader Perspective

While the GOP may wish to fixate on the terrorism facet of the attack on the GAY nightclub, what happened seems far more complex.  The horrific massacre had more than one element – it had a very disturbed radicalized young American man wielding military weaponry with a high lethality rate, in a GAY nightclub, who intended to kill GAY people.  It really isn’t hard to unpack the elements.  A marginalized person (self or otherwise?) who attached himself to a radicalized version of a religion, and who had easy access to a military weapon and enough ammunition to launch a killing spree in a GAY nightclub, the victims in which have themselves been marginalized in anti-LGBT rhetoric. 

Taking any one of the elements out of the toxic equation shouldn’t lead us to conclude that there is any single policy change that would have prevented the tragedy.  However, removing at least one certainly wouldn’t hurt and might help avoid subsequent attacks.

It would help if we could tone down the anti-LGBT rhetoric. Just as it is no longer socially acceptable to make a joke of someone’s ethnicity, wouldn’t it be nice if the mocking, demeaning, and dismissal of a person’s sexual orientation were no longer acceptable in polite society.  This isn’t “political correctness,” it’s merely fine old fashioned good manners.  It would be even more helpful if we could enact statutes protecting the rights of members of the LGBT community and being as concerned about their rights as we are our own.

It would help if we toned down the anti-Islam barrage.  Those whose image of Muslims, and especially of Muslim Americans, is composed of TV footage of Daesh outrages, or foreign cultural practices commonly abhorred, should take note of the many resources available for better understanding their Muslim neighbors.  They should consider the following statements from Muslim community leaders:

Dawud Walid the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan says Mateen doesn’t represent Muslims in the U.S. His message to the public; Muslims are American and as all other Americans, they are loyal to their country even if they disagree with certain issues.The rule of American Muslims is to abide by the laws of the land and to be peaceful and this recent extremist act that took place this morning, is the rare exception and in no way embodies our morals or our values as Americans citizens who just happen to be Muslims,” said Walid. [CBS Detroit]

Or, this:

“We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” [CAIR]

A little more mutual understanding should certainly help more than vilifying the American Muslim community.

It would help if we made it less likely that a disturbed or deranged individual could  get access to a military style weapon of war, which were never designed for civilian use.   There are listings of weapons by lethality. The AK-47 style; the M-16 (AR-15) “family”; the M240 machine gun; the PK machine gun; the QBZ 95 assault rifle.  It would seem reasonable that if a gun is listed as one of the five most lethal weapons in the world that common sense implies its ownership should be restricted.  Perhaps restricting the magazine capacity would assist in diminishing the lethality of these weapons when they are misused by civilians? That, too, sounds like common sense.

It would help if we de-stigmatized those who are harboring feelings which are anti-social and the antithesis of stability.  Who missed the signals that the Orlando shooter was demonstrating troubling personal behavior? Were the signals and warnings acted upon appropriately? Who could have warned authorities that the Aurora, Colorado theater shooter was exhibiting disturbing behavior – do we need to emphasize the necessity of giving local authorities a warning about those who combine disturbed thinking with fixations on violence?  Who might have warned authorities about the intentions of the Colorado Springs PPA facility shooter?  We are fond of saying “If you see something, say something,” why not practice what we’re preaching? And, why not support the funding and increased resources of our mental health services?

If we persist in seeing only those elements of mass shootings which conform to our pre-existing ideologies then we’ll miss the opportunities available to diminish the likelihood of further mass tragedies. A broader perspective is required to reach better horizons.

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Filed under anti-terrorism, gay issues, Gun Issues, Islam, Mental Health, Nevada politics, public safety, terrorism

Guns and Money

Stonewall NRA How Much? Thus far into the 2016 election cycle the National Rifle Association PAC  has donated a total of $398,400 to Federal candidates with $3,500 going to Democrats and $394,900 donated to Republican campaigns.  The Safari Club International PAC has contributed $17,000 to Democratic candidates and $317,500 to Republicans.  The National Shooting Sports Foundation PAC has donated $118,500 with $2,000 to Democratic candidates and $116,500 to Republican candidates.  The National Association for Gun Rights PAC has donated $29,000 to Republican candidates, and nothing to Democratic ones. The Gun Owners of American PAC has donated $9,585 with all contributions given to Republicans. The Ohio Gun Collectors Association PAC has distributed $7,000 all of which has gone to Republican candidates. The Dallas Safari Club PAC has donated all $3,000 of its contributions to Republicans.  [OS.org]

The NRA PAC has donated $75,000 so far to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; $30,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee; $15,000 to the Republican National Committee; $9,950 to the Blue Dog PAC, $5,000 to the Republican Party of Iowa; $5,000 to the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania; $5,000 to the Republican Party of Tennessee; $5,000 to the Republican Party of Kentucky; and, $5,000 to the Republican Party of Idaho.  [OS.org]

We also need to consider the NRA lobbying arm, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, which runs issue-based campaign ads of its own.  This organization cannot donate directly to candidates but is allowed to receive millions of dollars in donations from corporations.  It is not required to disclose the donors but manufacturers like Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger & Company have announced large donations to the NRA-ILA in the past. [CNN]  It’s public knowledge that during the two year period of the 2014 election cycle the NRA spent almost $36 million on lobbying, campaign contributions, and related political spending. [CNN]

Who Gets? Nevada Congressional candidate Cresent Hardy received $3,000 from the NRA PAC.  Joe Heck, Senate candidate in Nevada received $4,950 from the NRA PAC.

Cresent Hardy received another $2,000 from the Safari Club International PAC.  Senate candidate Joe Heck also received $2,000 from the Safari Club International PAC. Current Nevada Senator Dean Heller also received $2,000 in the 2016 cycle from the Safari Club International PAC.   The recipients are those listed in reports up to May 16, 2016. [OP.org]

The Response

The tragedy in Orlando, Florida, illustrates in a horrible way why simplistic thinking is detrimental to civil discourse in America.  And, the NRA response was perfectly predictable:

“Radical Islamic terrorists are not deterred by gun control laws. The San Bernardino terrorist attack wasn’t stopped by California’s so-called “assault weapons” ban. The gun ban in Brussels didn’t prevent the terrorist attack there. And France’s strict gun control didn’t stop the two attacks in Paris, committed with fully-automatic rifles and grenades.

Repeating the same thing but expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Law-abiding gun owners are tired of being blamed for the acts of madmen and terrorists. Semi-automatics are the most popular firearms sold in America for sport-shooting, hunting and self-defense.” [USAToday]

Heck, Hardy, and Heller have accepted NRA donations, and thus we’d have to assume they adhere to the arguments set forth by the NRA – logical flaws and all.

blood drop

The line that criminals (or terrorists) are not deterred by gun control laws is getting a bit stale.  Bank robbers aren’t deterred by laws designed to prevent robberies, but we have them on the books so that those violating the laws will be prosecuted.  Gun safety regulations are just that; laws designed to keep people safer – from successful suicides, assaults with these deadly weapons, and terrorist attacks.

blood drop

There is nothing quite so illogical as setting up an impossible standard and then insisting that all legislation perfectly meet that Impossibility. No law prevents all murders, all robberies, all auto thefts, or even all terrorist attacks, BUT doing nothing isn’t really a viable option.   Again, banning the sale of sliding side cribs for infants will not prevent all infant deaths, but it has prevented some, and for that we should be grateful.  We don’t ban all toys, but we don’t allow the sale of lawn darts which killed a handful of people and injured a few thousand.  The idea isn’t that we will be Perfectly Safe, but that we will be SAFER if military style weapons and high capacity magazines are not available to every single individual in America.

blood drop

Yes, expecting a different result from the same action is silly – however, the point is that we haven’t taken ANY action to curtail the proliferation of military style weaponry in civilian hands.  In fact, we’ve done the reverse.  There are at least 70 instances in which state legislatures have weakened gun safety law since the Sandy Hook massacre. [HuffPo] Congress, as is relatively obvious, hasn’t enacted any measures related to keeping Americans safer – none.

So, let’s turn this argument around.  The NRA pleads that what we have done since Sandy Hook hasn’t made us any safer.  True – we’ve weakened laws on the books, and the Congress has done nothing; therefore, expecting our environments to be safer is “expecting to do the same things and expecting to get another result.”

blood drop

The “poor me” gun owners argument is also getting bromidic.  No one is “blaming” those “responsible gun owners” for attacks in San Bernardino, Orlando, Charlestown, Blacksburg, Fort Hood, and Aurora…

Indeed, these were carried out by the deadly delusional among us. The real question is WHY we continue to countenance the easy sale and distribution of deadly weapons, regardless of the hands unto which they are committed?

blood drop

Semi-automatics are the most popular firearm sold in America,”  is NOT an argument for believing that continuing to do nothing will make us all safer.  Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup for Babies was a very popular product in the 19th century, and indeed it would sooth those teething little critters – with the 65 mg of morphine per fluid ounce.  To Mrs. Winslow’s concoction we might add Lloyd Manufacturing’s Cocaine Toothache Drops, Kimball’s White Pine and Tar Cough Syrup, and Laudanum – the latter being exceptionally popular.  Merely because an item is “popular” doesn’t mean it is a wholesome, safe, and generally useful product.

blood drop

Military style weapons are for military and law enforcement use. Period. Yes, a person could “go hunting” with an AR-15, but why? Most hunters use sporting rifles and shotguns so as not to “mess up the meat.”  At the risk of repeating myself – a person might use an AR-15 for hunting especially if the individual is of the type inclined to use a D8 Cat to move a bag of potting soil.  As far as home defense goes – just who do they think is going to show up?    Granted my marksmanship leaves a lot to be desired, but if I haven’t hit the “target” with my first couple of shots what would make me believe that I will do any more damage with the next 30 rounds? Except perhaps to complete the total “air-conditioning” of my living room?  I don’t expect a small army of burglars. I expect that statistics will hold that most burglars operate alone and unarmed.  The odds are against my ever needing a high capacity magazine attached to a highly lethal weapon – so why bother with the purchase?

blood drop

All too often when the smoke clears from a tragic shooting we find that the motives of the shooters were a complex mix of mental illness, delusional thinking, personal issues, political ideologies, and were far more complicated than simply ascribing blame to a singular causal factor.  However much the NRA wants to believe that Orlando was exclusively a terrorist attack, and however much Daesh would like to claim it, the shooter’s ideation remains cloudy – was it homophobic? Was it terroristic? Was it both? What other factors may have been involved? Was it a dramatic version of suicide-by-cop going down in a blaze of glory when his life was falling apart?  We don’t know much at this point and we may not know much more later in the investigations.  What we do know is that it didn’t take all that much effort for him to purchase all the firepower he needed to implement his irrational plan.

Questions

To those Federal candidates and office holders like Hardy, Heck, and Heller:

1. Do you believe that anyone should be allowed to purchase a high capacity magazine for a military style weapon which can be easily modified to function as an automatic weapon?

2. Do you believe that military style weapons should be readily available in the marketplace for civilian use?

3. Do you believe that simply because we can’t prevent every tragic loss of life to suicide, homicide, or assaults that we should do nothing to alleviate the situation?

4. Do you believe that individuals who can’t pass a background check should be able to purchase guns at a gun show?

5. Do you believe  that persons who are adjudicated mentally ill, have a history of spousal abuse, or who are on “no-fly” lists should be allowed to purchase military style weapons and high capacity magazines?

Perhaps instead of taking the NRA’s nihilistic approach – there’s nothing we can do – we ought to be discussing how we can implement a general policy based on the concept that every little bit helps, and that doing Something is  preferable to doing Nothing.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Heck, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics