Sunday, 12 June 2016

Orlando: The Rush to Blame

This is another of my "from Facebook" posts... a brief response to the horrific events in Orlando.
This is horrendous, and as always on such occasions I struggle with how best to react.

I'm sure I'm not alone: many people say their "thoughts and prayers" are with the victims and their families: and I'm sure they genuinely are. Others that they're "sending their love".

As an atheist my prayers are obviously with no-one, and although my thoughts are with those bereaved, this seems as futile as "sending love", whatever that means.

The next step for many is to try and work out "why?" and this is where we should exercise caution especially when you transition from what is known to what is pure speculation.

First, whatever else this is, it's a crime against humanity. As John Donne said: "Any man's death diminishes me"

Next: it does seem to have been a hate crime against LGBT folk and is a sharp reminder that the battle for equality has some way to go.

This seems to be all that is known for sure.

The perpetrator is said to potentially have had IS sympathies but from what I've read that is by no means certain.

There is often a rush in these scenarios to blame something "other": if there's a "them" to blame, then "we" can feel better. And we can justify any actions against "them" that "we" may see fit.

But the truth is hate can grow and fester amongst "us". With the current wave of support for Trump, and rise of nationalism and patriotism on the right, then this type of action could just as likely have been carried out by someone believing they were doing the Christian God's will as Allah's, or targeted at migrant communities, say.

And "them-and-us-ism" isn't the sole preserve of the right: the political left engages in it too, with corporates, bankers and fat-cats the target, although this less often leads to violence.

I suppose my appeal here has two contradictory sentiments.

One: not to rush headlong into speculation.

Two: when speculating (as is human nature even without 24/7 news channels to fill) to consider all the ways in which society can give rise to this sort of scenario: and resolve to work against such factors, whatever they be.

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