Naming the problem


Thousands gather during the Sunday evening vigil in the Castro district to mourn and honor the victims of the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie, Special To The Chronicle

A beautiful, bright day here in the Bay Area, where thousands of people are mourning the victims of the Orlando Pulse Club massacre. It’s all too horrible and familiar–the outrage, the weeping, the posturing by political candidates, the dual stereotyping of Muslims and LGBT folks, calls for gun control, calls for closing the borders. Many view with grim amusement efforts by the right to condemn ‘Islamic terrorism’ without appearing to support homosexuality (such a difficult PR problem, poor dears). Mostly, though, it’s horror, outrage and fear. Who’s next? Where? Why? How soon?

Sane people fear retaliation against all Muslims and the failure to address homophobia as a national problem. Sane people believe automatic weapons should not be part of the home arsenal. (Some of them even believe there shouldn’t be any home arsenals.)

For many of us, though, it almost doesn’t matter who was massacred this time–school children, postal workers, government employees, co-workers. What matters is that it happens over and over and over again. We are a country that was born in violence, built its wealth on genocide and slavery, maintained supremacy through war, racism and exploitation. Why are we surprised that over and over again picking up a gun looks like the solution to problems?  I believe we must look to our origins: murder and exploitation for profit. How can we progress if we can’t name them and make amends?


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