• After Orlando

    On June 12, 2016, Americans woke up to horrifying news. When I turned on my phone and checked social media, my whole feed was full of news about the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. As the day went on and the story slowly unfolded, Americans learned of a staggering 49 deaths and 53 injuries caused by Omar Mateen, the gunman who opened fire at a gay nightclub in the middle of the night. 

    Although I didn’t know any of the victims, I spent the following days utterly shaken and disturbed, as did most of America. I think I can speak for most of the people I know in saying that it was extremely difficult to wrap my head around this unfathomable tragedy. The Orlando shooting is now considered the deadliest mass shooting and worst act of homophobia this country has ever experienced. Writing this post now, two weeks later, I still feel beyond sickened by the hatred that fueled this atrocity. 

    And to be honest, I was not consoled by many public reactions to the tragedy.

    The first thing that struck me was, of course, Donald Trump’s reaction. Trump tweeted on the same day as the shooting, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

    I was left speechless by this. Donald Trump managed to do his two favorite things in one tiny tweet: 1. Talk about how amazing he thinks he is, and 2. Perpetuate fear and hatred towards Muslims.

    We all know Trump thinks he’s the greatest thing to happen to the world since the invention of Nutella. His egotistical self-importance and disgusting arrogance are nothing new to anyone who’s been following his campaign. However, in the face of this unfathomable tragedy, his self-congratulatory persona inspires a whole new form of revulsion. When I read his tweet, I gasped aloud. On a day when the country was in deep shock and mourning, he felt the need to remind everyone how amazing he is once again. I cannot imagine a more undignified and despicable reaction to something so horrific. 

    Let’s talk about the perpetuating-fear-and-hate thing. It is true that the shooting was, in fact, an act of terror and Islamist extremism. However, Donald Trump continued his Twitter rant to further push his call for the “complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the US”. Okay, so why doesn’t this make sense? First of all, Mateen was not a practicing Muslim. His act of terror had nothing to do with his religious group. Secondly, it is so beyond wrong to discriminate against a whole ethnic/religious group because of a few crazy people. Americans don’t hate Christians because of the Westboro Baptist Church. How come Donald Trump encourages us to hate whole racial, ethnic, and religious groups of people in times when Americans need to come together? It’s honestly contemptible. Instead of blaming Muslims in general for terrorism, let’s blame the actual people responsible for committing the acts of terror. It’s high time that Donald Trump and his followers understand that scapegoating is NOT an acceptable practice in 2016.

    Here’s another thing that struck me: the most obvious way to prevent a heinous crime like this is not something our political system has been able to accomplish. The Democratic Congress’s attempts to get gun control laws passed have not succeeded. Every single attempt has failed. The filibuster failed, the sit-in failed, and the next attempt will probably fail as well. These sunken attempts to get military weapons out of the hands of American citizens failed not because the Democratic Senators and Representatives weren’t pushing hard enough—because they WERE. I admire their determination and courage so much. These attempts failed because of the many Republicans who believe that the right of an American (even an American on a terrorist watch list) to own a gun is more important than the right of Americans not to get shot down in night clubs, schools and movie theaters. These gun lovers are the people who are helping to elect Donald Trump.

    This post is personal, and illustrates just my own individual thoughts and beliefs about this dark chapter of American history. However, I do feel this is extremely relevant to Teens4Hillary: because I know Hillary feels the exact same way I do. She knows that in a time of tragedy, America cannot resort to racism and scapegoating and fluffing up our own egos. She knows that gun control is not a backburner social issue anymore, but rather a grave reality that needs to be dealt with NOW. 

    Please. Let’s not divide our country further. Let’s not fight hatred with more hatred. Let’s not fight violence with more violence. Let’s take guns out of the hands of people who will use them for evil. Let’s protect innocent American citizens, and let’s elect a President who will lead the way.

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