Once again we are faced with a tragedy born of hate perpetrated by an Islamic extremist terrorist. Many have said that since the shooting early Sunday morning took place at a gay club it was a hate crime. It was, but then every single act committed in the name of ISIS and their like is a hate crime, be it against gays, Christians, Jews, heavy metal fans, or soccer fans, or anybody else not exactly like them. The fact that the terrorist’s targets were gay in this instance is irrelevant in the big picture. This particular murderer just picked the group he hated the most to massacre, as if picking from some twisted, macabre menu.
It is not who he decided to massacre that should disturb or enrage us, it is that there is an entire self-proclaimed nation of extremists out there that has convinced themselves and their followers that the value of human life is negotiable, worth much in the case of some, worth nothing at all in the case of others, many others. Like the NAZI’s before them, they revel in having enemies that all their woes can be blamed on. Scapegoats to blame for their failures and those of their bankrupt ideology. They lie to themselves that their deeds serve a higher purpose. They dehumanize others in order to kill them without remorse. What eventually ended the NAZI’s reign of terror against the weak and the defenseless was a sustained and coordinated effort by the strong– not to reach an accommodation or accord with them, but to destroy them in detail on every battlefront. What’s more, we and others who shared the means to do so made an irreversible decision to defeat the enemy and never give anything less than our utmost to do so.
We have heard a lot of strong talk after Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, and the rest. Each time we resolved not to be cowed or give in to terror. We vowed to take the fight to the enemy, attack them with every means at our disposal. Indeed, we have taken action, we’ve killed them, captured them, taken away their money. We’ve done so for years, but for all of those things we’ve done, there is still one thing that remains to do before we can end the terror. We have to make that same public, non-negotiable, irrevocable pact with ourselves and our allies to win this war as we did the one three-quarters of a century ago against a similar foe.
With the military victory, we must strive for the moral victory. We have to win this fight staying true to our values. We have to do it while preserving the rights to free speech, religion, and peaceful assembly, the right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects, the right to bear arms. We have to respect and morn all who have been lost in this struggle, be they gay, straight, Christian, Jew, cop, soldier, or innocent bystander. We have to understand what our enemy does not– that every human life is sacred, not just those we approve of, or those we can relate to, but all lives. The reason is simple because all of what we call civilization is hateful to them and thus a potential target for their militant extremism. Every act of terror by definition is a hate crime, it’s not the victims that determines this, it is the terrorist.