It is hard to write about anything else this week than the shocking and tragic massacre of 49 patrons in gay bar by a heavily armed homophobic young Islamic man in Orlando, Florida. Three years ago I wrote about the massacre of children and teachers by a heavily armed mentally ill young man in nearby Newtown, Connecticut. Then I suggested that it presented an opportunity for people to come together and compromise in order to prevent future disasters.
Even though I know that it will be futile in today’s heavily charged political atmosphere, I would like to again suggest some other areas of compromise in the aftermath of the shooting in Orlando. So far the responses on the right and left have been predictable. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democrat candidate for President, has called for more and stricter gun control measures. Democrats in the House of Representatives pressing for gun control shouted down Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House, after he called for a moment of silence to remember the dead in Orlando.
On the right, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for President, renewed his call for a pause in all Moslem immigration into the United States. He castigated Hillary Clinton and President Obama for their failure to use the term “radical Islam” as the source of the terrorist attacks on the USA since 911. The shooter in Orlando was apparently born in the USA of Moslem immigrant parents from Afghanistan. Trump blamed the Obama administration for its ineptitude in vetting immigrants from Moslem countries.
After the massacre in Newtown I argued that both sides might be right and that if they would only listen to each other and try to deal with each other’s legitimate complaints, they might find a common ground. If you really want to achieve your goals and not just make points, it is never good to demonize your opponents or just shove your solutions down their throats.
For example, people on the left should refrain from characterizing gun owners as hillbilly rednecks. They should understand that people on the right not only love their guns but that they also fear, with good reason, that if they are forced to give up their guns, then only criminals will have guns. The incredibly high murder rates in cities like Chicago demonstrate that despite strict gun control laws, we have not been able to keep guns out of the hands of criminal gangs. People on the right also believe that politicians and activists on the left are increasingly hamstringing police from doing their work. Those on the left might want to reconsider their opposition to stop and frisk laws that proved so effective in lowering the murder rate in New York City.
On the other hand, those on the right could offer compromises on the right to bear arms like the semi-automatic AR-15, the weapon of choice for terrorists. We banned the use of machine guns in the 1930s and the AR-15 is practically a machine gun in its ease of use, and firing capacity. I fail to understand why a hunter or sportsman would need to fire off 30 rounds in less than a minute. Rather than a complete ban, why couldn’t the manufacturer limit the magazine to six bullets, and make it not so easy to reload?
In the case of Islamic extremism, why is it hard for President Obama and other people on the left to recognize its existence and call it what it is. Late night television hosts and Hollywood films routinely insult and condemn Christians and Christianity, but rarely say a word about Islamic extremism. Why has it been so hard for the liberal media to notice the thousands of Christians brutally murdered, raped, and enslaved by ISIS Moslem militants in Iraq and Syria? Members of the homosexual community have regularly participated in public displays of ridicule directed against Christianity. Some have been known to disrupt services in Catholic churches but never in mosques. But is Christianity the real enemy?
In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman who herself was forced to flee to the USA to escape threats from Islamic fanatics, argued that “homophobia is an integral part of Islamic extremism.” Here is just one example she cited from a Moslem cleric speaking at the Husseini Islamic Center outside Orlando in 2013.
Farrokh Sekaleshfar, a Shiite cleric educated in London, declared of homosexuality in 2013: “death is the sentence. We know there’s nothing to be embarrassed about this. Death is the sentence.”
On the other hand, people on the right should understand that Islamic radicals represent a very small percentage of the Moslems already in this country, or of those who wish to come. Here is part of a statement from a Moslem group in Meriden, Connecticut.
As Muslim Americans who believe in the Messiah Ahmad of Qadian, we sincerely advocate how our faith condemns the tragic shooting in Orlando that affected so many innocent lives and fellow Americans. We wholeheartedly join Muslims and Americans, domestic and abroad, in offering sincere prayers for the victims and their families, especially during Ramadan. This terrorist attack was not only inhumane and disturbing but wholly un-Islamic and un-American. Neither the Holy Quran nor the U.S. Constitution call for violence in any shape or form towards homosexuals or any community unjustly. On the contrary, both the Holy Quran and the U.S. Constitution teach sanctity of each and every life irrespective of their orientation. The Quran actually equates the murder of one innocent life as the slaughter of all humanity. It further declares the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as "a mercy to all people," not just straight people, and Allah as “the Lord of all the worlds,” not just who we deem worthy. That's how we live by our motto "love for all hatred for none," the true essence of Islam. *
It is good to see Moslems speaking out against terrorism. I think that it would be a good idea if all churches, synagogues, and mosques in this country were required to issue such a condemnation of terrorism or else lose their tax-exempt status. The government that can put a bakery out of business for refusing to make wedding cakes for homosexual marriages should rather direct its attention to radical imams spouting hate speech in mosques.
*Here is a link to the full statement by the Meriden Moslems.