The criminal attack at a gay club in Orlando is a horrendous act of hate against that community, as well as a terrorist act against the values of tolerance and diversity that make the fabric of U.S. society. This case illustrates that hatred and terrorism are not mutually exclusive when they are built upon a foundation of prejudice and extremism.
The fact that Omar Mateen chose the Pulse gay club to show his loyalty to the Islamic State through blood and fire is not a coincidence. The terrorist’s father and other people close to him say that the idea and the image of gay people used to anger the shooter. His criminal, intolerant attitude towards homosexuality matches ISIS’s cruelty against gays, whose promotional videos show how they savagely kill them by throwing them off buildings’ rooftops.
Unfortunately, expressions of hate against toward the LGBT community are all too common in our country. Verbal and physical aggression often ending in murder represent resentment against difference, which is the greatest fear of ignorant people and the cause of hatred of fanatics, those whose religious beliefs make them see reality in a distorted manner.
The U.S. has seen much religious intolerance in recent years; the type that meddles into the bedrooms and the affections of others, uninvited. A gay couple’s decision to publicly celebrate their mutual commitment and the civil laws that protect their relationship have inexplicably become a “threat” to Christian values in the eyes of some congregations. The concept of charity seems to have been erased from some bibles to be replaced with ostracism and condemnation of whomever they consider a sinner.
The prejudices of some believers have been exacerbated by intolerant speeches made from the pulpit and apocalyptic messages espoused by opportunistic, extremist politicians speaking of a persecuted Christianity as a reaction to the debates on gay marriage and access to public bathrooms for transsexual people.
Even when the horror of this massacre seems to have made homophobic criticism cease, Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick showed his colors when he tweeted a Bible verse that reads: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
The Pulse club massacre is an act of domestic terrorism. Islamic extremism gave Mateen justification to commit the murders. However, to hate gays he did not need an external influence: He learned that in the country where he was born.