It’s back to business as usual: hating Muslims, loving guns.
We had just celebrated the life of Muhammad Ali, the most famous, most beloved Muslim in the nation’s history. For a minute, one sweet minute, Americans might have been moved to think more expansively about Islam. And race. And violence.
Some of us dared hope that the toxic sewer-flow of Trumpery might at least slow down, that America might manage a rare moment of introspection.
Then Omar Mateen, a deranged homophobic — or, perhaps, closeted and self-loathing — loser with delusions of jihadi grandeur shot up an Orlando nightclub, killing 49 people, mostly young, mostly gay, mostly Latino.
The leader of the Republican Party responded with the intelligence and accuracy we’ve come to expect: “The killer, whose name I will not use or ever say, was born in Afghan (sic), of Afghan parents, who immigrated to the United States.”
He added, “The only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here.”
Omar Mateen was an American citizen. He was born in Queens, New York. Just like Donald Trump. Mateen’s parents were immigrants; Donald Trump’s mother was an immigrant.
Trump’s solution? “When I’m elected I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies until we fully understand how to end these threats.”
Right. So no Irish: some of them have perpetrated terrorist attacks on Britain, our closest ally. And no British, either — remember the shoe bomber? No French or Belgians, not after the atrocities in Paris and Brussels. Nobody from Africa or India, either. You don’t know where they’ve been. No Iraqis or Afghans — too bad we promised those interpreters we’d get them out after they helped us in the war.
Cubans? Are you kidding? Ever heard of Orlando Bosch or Luis Posada Cariles? Nobody from Canada, either, not after the Toronto 18 plotted to blow up the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2006.
No Mexicans. Obviously.
Perhaps President Trump will suspend the Constitution so we can round up all Muslims — practicing or nominal — regardless of citizenship. That’ll learn ‘em. We’d better apprehend Christians, too — practicing or nominal — since they’re responsible for most terrorist attacks on US soil: abortion clinics, gay bars, movie theaters, federal buildings, black churches.
But God forbid we do anything about guns.
Omar Mateen’s guns, an AK-15 and a 9 mm Glock, were legal. It didn’t matter that the guy was interviewed twice by the FBI or that he was on a watch list or that he beat his wife or that he behaved erratically and belligerently at times, talking about killing people. He passed his mental health screening and background check.
Thanks to our pinhead of a governor with his A+ NRA rating, our craven legislature, our cowed citizenry, who would rather arm themselves than think, and Marion Hammer, that foul banshee of a gun lobbyist who rules the capitol, the state of Florida enables firearm violence. The state of Florida — all of us — should have a long stare into our own souls.
We’ll probably blame Islam instead. Or the Internet. Movies. Bad parenting. Poor diet. Anything but guns. Anything but the pathetic system which more or less allows anyone to get any weapon he wants. Assault rifles, machine guns, flamethrowers. Hell, you can get a grenade launcher if you try.
If these “safeguards” didn’t stop Omar Mateen, maybe we need to adjust them. Maybe we need to figure out a better way to test mental health. You have to wait longer and go through more professional assessment to adopt a puppy.
Muslims aren’t the problem. Immigrants aren’t the problem. Guns are the problem.
Diane Roberts is the author of “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America.” She teaches at Florida State University.