Outrage in Orlando: the danger of radical rhetoric.

Author:Lynn, Barry W.
Position:PERSPECTIVE - Column
 
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I was in South Florida vacationing near the Everglades when I awoke to news from Orlando that a 22-year-old singer named Christina Grimmie who had been a contestant on "The Voice" television show was killed after performing in a club.

I have met so many young performers through our Voices United series that this seemed like a terrible loss of a person who seemed to love her music and had everything to live for.

The next morning there was more terrible news: A massacre had occurred at Pulse, an Orlando nightclub with strong ties to the LGBTQ community. The shooter killed 49 people and was himself fatally shot in a confrontation with police.

The murderer had called 911, telling an operator that he was pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. In the days that followed, we learned more about his motives and his obvious problems.

We seem to follow a script in these situations. Some were quick to exploit the situation by attacking the entire Muslim community, even though U.S. Muslims immediately condemned the murders and expressed support for the victims and their families.

That meant nothingto people like Donald Trump, who asserted that Muslims in America know there are terrorists in their midst but won't identify them. Trump, of course, presented no evidence for this incendiary charge.

I also knew we would hear an extreme reaction from a truly awful member of the clergy somewhere. Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento filled that role.

Jimenez told his flock not to mourn the deaths, remarking, "People say, like: 'Well, aren't you sad that 50 sodomites died?' Here's the problem with that. It's like the equivalent of asking me, what if you asked me: 'Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?' 'Urn, no, I think that's great. I think that helps society."

Other groups at least tried to be sensitive. The American Family Association (AFA) issued a brief statement saying that God loves everyone and condemning senseless violence.

The sentiment sounds nice until you remember that the AFA and its allies have issued a steady stream of ugly rhetoric designed to cause people to hate and fear members of the LGBTQ community.

Bryan Fischer, a controversial figure who hosts a radio show on an AFA-owned network, responded to the Supreme Court's June 26,2015, ruling on marriage equality with this tweet: "Just as Hitler bottled up the church of his day inside the four walls of their churches, so the Gay Gestapo...

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