It’s been a little over a week since Omar Mateen, a Muslim* extremist, murdered 49 people at Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando that caters to gay men. You’ve no doubt read the hottest of the hot takes, devoured the smartest of the smart takes, and watched the takeaways on television news. Reams have already been written about this horrific act, and more will be penned by people who are paid by the word. What follows is my unpaid, lukewarm take, which you can take or leave.
I remember September 11, 2001 and its aftermath, when the United States, as a nation, came together to share its collective grief at the latest attack on American soil by Muslim extremists. It was a horrific time, but we shared the burden of anguish in some small measure. It happened to all of us. Obviously I couldn’t pretend to comprehend the grief of a widower, an orphan, a parent who lost a child in that attack; none of us could. But we supported those who did, with the implicit, human understanding that we were a people, a society. We were all Americans.
We’re not a people any longer.
Major media outlets have made it clear that what happened at Pulse is entirely an event owned by a particular identity group. And if you haven’t supported every single aspect of that identity group’s political and social efforts, your support, your shared grief is unwelcome. The New York Times blamed its political adversaries for the shooting, not Mateen. In The Daily Beast‘s eyes, there’s no difference between supporting the traditional definition of marriage and wishing death to homosexuals. According to Anderson Cooper at CNN, if you didn’t Tweet enough about Gay Pride Month, you’ve done harm to the gay community and have no place discussing the Orlando massacre.
Consider the poverty of spirit, the elevation of identity politics over basic humanity that these examples display. That shameful performance wasn’t beneath Anderson Cooper, as Mollie Hemingway said: it is Anderson Cooper. It is CNN and The Daily Beast and The New York Times. It is what America has become: Balkanized identity groups. Don’t make the mistake of calling Cooper’s loathsome behavior a lapse: it’s a lapse when he doesn’t do it. The kimono’s open, and we have seen the sickening ugliness beneath.
If that’s how you want it, then you can have it. If my well-considered and deeply-held beliefs preclude me from mourning when certain Americans have been killed by Muslim extremists, I’ll save my support for the Americans I’m allowed to grieve for. It’s ugly and terrible, but it’s the bed our moral and intellectual betters have made. Why argue with them?
Are you sure you want to support CNN with your cable TV money, knowing that this is what they think of you? Why give The Daily Beast any more clicks after reading that disgusting tripe? Should The New York Times really be called The Paper of Record? You can’t get these outlets to change their minds, but you can deny them an audience for their vitriol. Don’t support media outlets that hate you. And they do hate you; don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise. Your difference of opinion is hate, remember? And your forbearance is weakness.
The Brotherhood of Man, the notion of shared burdens and open arms is over. I don’t like it any more than you do, but it’s better that we acknowledge this now, while the ugliness is fresh in our sight.