Monday, June 13, 2016

The right is wrong for politicizing Orlando mass shooting

It is amazing (yet predictable) how right wing pundits and public figures have rushed to politicize the June 12 mass shooting that killed 50 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Nary a beat was missed in the race to lay the blame for the shooting at the feet of President Obama, or to at least nit-pick his every utterance on the issue.

Donald Trump staffer Dan Scavino Jr., for one, was incensed that Obama called the incident "terrorism", rather than "RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM". (Let's be honest – the real source of Scavino's ire is that Obama isn't using his presidential pulpit to stoke anger against Muslims. In fact, that Obama practices diplomacy in the face of the threat of terrorism at all is something to be held in suspicion by the right wing authoritarian followers that comprise Trump's base.)

Besides, I'm not sure that Scavino was really that upset about Obama's choice of words (or choice of omitted words), as this was like an opportunity to remind the aforementioned base about Trump's stance on Islam that was too good to pass up.

And after the non-stop marathon of half-literate and ill-informed tweets of the past year, it's no surprise that The Donald was quick to weigh in. Of course, if you've ever tried to sit through one of his campaign rally speeches, it shouldn't shock you that he led with a note of self-congratulation:

"Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance."

So even in the face of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, Trump first primped his unlikely hair in the mirror and then reframed the whole tragedy with him at center stage as hero and Greek chorus all in one. He is his own favorite topic. (What I'd like to know is who these people are whose first reaction was to congratulate Donald Trump while the bodies were still being counted.)

Meanwhile, over at Fox News, host Tucker Carlson was blaming Obama himself for the shooting, asserting that the President's tendency toward political correctness caused the event, as if a lack of chest-thumping belligerence is the root cause of Islamic terrorism, rather than interventionist foreign policy and a long history of the U.S. intentionally destabilizing the Middle East.

Lost in all of the above was an acknowledgement that the worst mass shooting in U.S. history also happened to have targeted the gay community, a fact that apparently takes a back seat to the all-important cause of promoting Islamophobia over on the right. Fortunately, this wasn't lost on the President, who hit a far more human note by saying this was "an especially heartbreaking day for all of our friends, our fellow Americans, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender."

And while I certainly woudn't dream of diminishing this tragedy, let us not forget the 12,942 U.S. citizens who died from gun violence in 2015. Perhaps those deaths are of far less value because we can't hang an enemy ideology on them, ‘such as ‘radical Islamic terrorism'. An even greater inconvenience for the right is that excess public mourning of ‘vanilla' gun deaths would draw undue attention to the gun control debate.

It's hardly surprising, then, that when any Muslim is responsible for a mass killing, the right can be depended on to quickly grab the ball and run as hard as it can with it before the next white (non-Muslim) mass shooter changes the channel.

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Originally published on the Drudge Retort.