Choose wisdom over Trump

Choose wisdom over Trump

Politics and bigotry over death – that is the maxim of the Orlando massacre, extending to the battlefield of the highly polarized Presidential elections. 49 civilians in a gay nightclub gunned down by a man of Afghan descent - it has become the apt recipe for Republican candidate Donald Trump to reboot his hate politics against the Muslim community. With the support and blessing of the National Rifle Association, Trump has insulated the tragedy in America’s vintage ‘terror’ narrative – which has hurt Muslim Americans ever since 9/11. Republicans have irresponsibly glossed over how a monster can easily acquire an assault rifle and end human life at will – emphasizing that arming more and more American citizens is key to preventing such tragedies.

With the support and blessing of the National Rifle Association, Trump has insulated the tragedy in America’s vintage ‘terror’ narrative – which has hurt Muslim Americans ever since 9/11.

The narrative is bolstered by 3 basic arguments. One, Omar Mateen was of Afghan descent, even though he was born and brought up in the United States. Two, the massacre was an intelligence failure where he was on the FBI watch list and an open investigation was closed against him. Three, and the most ridiculous argument from Fox News, a ban on assault weapons would not work as Mateen could have used a ‘crock pot’ to carry out the massacre.

Firstly, no one’s race makes him or her a mass murderer. Mateen was an American citizen and had no ties to Afghanistan. He never travelled to the Middle East to even suggest any links with terror groups. Only the colour of his skin and his name allowed him to fit into a ‘terror’ profile. The same formula ignores cases where the shooter is a white ‘Christian’ like Dylann Roof who carried out the Charleston church massacre killing 9 people in June 2015 and Adam Lanza who carried out the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in December 2012, killing 28 people including 20 children. These shooters are seen as psychopaths, poster boys of a broken community, but Mateen is a terrorist.

Orlando was not even an intelligence failure. Omar Mateen did not drop off the FBI watch list because of snoozing agents - there was no evidence against him. The file on Mateen was closed as he had not joined any terrorist organization, didn't attended a terror training camp, or communicated with terror operatives about any plots. Suspects cannot be held for crimes they have not committed, and even a perfect law and order system cannot prevent crime, as it can never predict it with absolute certainty. It is a trade off we make for liberty.

The argument of the gun lobby oscillates between absurd extremes: Any form of regulation is equivalent to totalitarian government control while on the other hand it is argued that gun regulation never works.

The argument of the gun lobby oscillates between absurd extremes: Any form of regulation is equivalent to totalitarian government control while on the other hand it is argued that gun regulation never works. It is baffling how that case withstands scrutiny. By the same logic, drug laws should be suspended as they continue to be freely available, and immigration rules should be scrapped as people continue to enter the United States illegally. The rhetoric becomes dangerous when Presidential candidates like Trump say that the Paris attack could have been averted if the victims were armed. As a ludicrous safety measure, he has even advocated that people be allowed to carry concealed weapons in clubs.

On the other side of the debate, Hillary Clinton has taken a stand against the hate mongering, promising stronger gun control if elected President. She has emphasized that terror should never shake a nation’s faith in plurality adding that greater unity and acceptance is key to prevent the marginalization that fuels the terror ideology.
This message is now being taken forward by Muslim Democrats in Florida, who have teamed up with gay rights activists to counter the vitriol of the Republican camp. The 2016 elections is the first time the Florida Democratic Party has officially recognized the American Muslim Democratic Caucus. In the wake of the Orlando massacre, the group is championing a unique political pitch to galvanize an alliance with the gay community, highlighting that both groups are regularly misunderstood and subject to discrimination, also finding common ground in opposing Trump’s ascension to the White House. The American Muslim Democratic Caucus aims to rally the 700,000 member Muslim community in Florida against the Republican candidate, where only 200,000 are currently registered to vote.

The Orlando tragedy has revealed the bare bones of the two presidential campaigns and the character of their leaders.

Opponents have dubbed the Democratic Party’s support to the Muslim caucus in Florida as its inability to address 'radical Islam’, but the group’s political push is the need of the hour in American politics. It is a necessary force to bolster Hillary Clinton’s narrative for stronger gun regulation against the venomous and divisive language of the Republicans and NRA who have used the Orlando tragedy to spread fear and fan communal hatred. It is potent for the ideological counter to emanate from the state where the terror attack took place, and rally Muslim voters in Florida under the Democratic banner to send out a powerful message against Donald Trump’s politicking. The political bloc can also boost the Democrats in a state, which has regularly seen close Presidential elections.

The Orlando tragedy has revealed the bare bones of the two presidential campaigns and the character of their leaders. As both sides continue to lock horns till November, Hillary Clinton will continue to look more like a statesman, a pan American and unifying leader fit to occupy the White House. Trump meanwhile will slowly be
exposed as a foolhardy cowboy who’s narrative of a divided America has done nothing more than erode the credibility of the Republicans, making social pariahs of party leaders and voters alike.

Ayushman Jamwal

Ayushman Jamwal

Ayushman Jamwal is a MA Political Communication graduate from Cardiff University, currently working as Senior news editor at CNN-News18.


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