My heart has been broken over and over this week. So many horrific events have occurred that have shown us the very worst of humanity, and I feel entirely overwhelmed and exhausted at the state of the world. I’m going to unusually have a rant here with no neat conclusion or call-to-action – I just have some things I need to get off my chest.
First there was the death of The Voice contestant Christina Grimmie, who was shot dead at a Florida concert venue while she met with fans after the show. No motive has been found yet.
Then there was the Orlando shooting – where 49 LGBT people were killed and a further 53 were injured in a shooting in a gay nightclub. This was a premeditated attack on LGBT people, and is the worst targeted mass killing of LGBT people in the western world since the Holocaust. The vast majority of the victims were Latinx. Trump’s proposed solution is to ban Muslim immigration in the US; he also suggested that the Obama is complicit with terrorists (and this guy could be the US President for the next 4 years).
This is absolutely soul-crushing. pic.twitter.com/x10BEuqzsl
— Kami Mattioli (@Kami) June 12, 2016
Bafflingly, significant numbers of people insist that Orlando had nothing to do with homophobia, arguing that it was an attack on “the freedom of all people to try to enjoy themselves” when it was demonstrably a homophobic shooter who specifically chose a gay nightclub.
Are the US politicians saying “enough is enough” to the lax gun laws that had a hand in a massacre of this scale? No, they think that the solution is more guns – even though there have been 141 mass shootings and 6147 deaths by firearm in the US in 2016 alone (and we’re only 6 months in so far). Even though there are numerous examples of people murdering others through their carelessness with firearms, and toddlers killing themselves and others when they accidentally get hold of a parent’s gun.
— Aaron Fleming (@AaronAFleming) June 11, 2016
Instead of taking meaningful steps towards preventing these things from happening again, US politicians continue to pass bigoted anti-LGBT+ laws that destroy our community while offering weak “thoughts and prayers” when the hatred they stir up results in death. What’s worse, these anti-LGBT+ laws have started making their way to the UK.
“You can’t keep us out of fucking bathrooms one week and then claim you care if we live or die the next. You don’t get to claim this for your war on terror.” (Latisha Nichole McDaniel)
Our straight Allies continue to “send love” and tweet rainbow hearts, but rainbow hearts won’t prevent homophobic violence – doing something will.
“If every person who has shared something about the Orlando shooting made a commitment to challenging homophobic or transphobic language the next time they heard it that could make a difference. We can’t do anything about America’s gun laws, but we can do something small about the prejudice against LGBT+ people which still exists basically everywhere.” (LGBT+ Staff Network blog)
Yesterday, Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in broad daylight by a Britain First supporter – the first murder of an MP for over 25 years. She was a Palestine campaigner, an anti-slavery activist, an anti-domestic violence campaigner, and a supporter of Syrian refugees.
“When you encourage rage you cannot then feign surprise when people become enraged. … When you shout BREAKING POINT over and over again, you don’t get to be surprised when someone breaks. When you present politics as a matter of life and death, as a question of national survival, don’t be surprised if someone takes you at your word. You didn’t make them do it, no, but you didn’t do much to stop it either.” (Alex Massie)
It emerged that she has been receiving death threats for 3 months prior to her murder, but Police had done nothing. It’s possible that she was targeted due to her support of the “remain” campaign. And yet, the Press keep depoliticizing this act by painting the killer as a mentally ill loner – this is racism, Islamophobia, and white privilege in action.
“If a Muslim or person of colour had shot Jo Cox, it seems doubtful that their mental health would be the first point on the media’s agenda. Take the 2014 beheading of pensioner Palmira Silva in North London; though the perpetrator of that attack genuinely was acting alone – and, unlike Thomas Mair, had no links to any kind of extremist group – the Sun ran the headline ‘Muslim convert beheads woman in garden’.” (Emily Reynolds)
Weird how Daily Mail focuses on Jo Cox killer's mental illness rather than links to far right. Were it a Muslim we know where focus would be
— Heydon Prowse (@HeydonProwse) June 17, 2016
this isn't an isolated tragedy carried out by a lone extremist, it's the inevitable outcome of a country which celebrates far-right hate
— worker & parasite (@inwardseether) June 16, 2016
Yesterday, English football fans taunted begging refugee children by throwing coins and laughing at them. One story recounted how a group of fans got a 7 year old to down a whole beer in exchange for a few coins.
Brexit supporters continue to use xenophobia and racism as motives to leave the EU, which culminated in UKIP’s racist billboards that closely resembled Nazi propaganda. I am petrified about what state the UK will be in if we vote leave – all the available evidence strongly indicates that we will be in recession, that it will send the Pound plummeting, that human rights in the UK will suffer if handed over to the Tories, the UK will lose millions in research funding (including cancer research and university research grants), to name but a few frightening prospects. It seems to me that Brexit are willing to jeopardize the economic and social safety of vulnerable people in the name of “controlling immigration” – despite all the evidence that says that Brexit will not change the numbers of immigrants trying to come to the UK.
I want my country back
— Ravi Subramanian (@RaviSubbie) June 15, 2016
This week I discovered a Facebook page created by the family of Brock Turner, the convicted rapist who violently raped an unconsious woman at Stanford University. As if his shockingly lenient sentence of 6 months wasn’t abhorrent enough (the judge feared a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner), now his family are taunting rape victims, saying that parents should teach their daughters not to drink so much, arguing that Brock’s future is “more important than some party chick’s hangover” and that he is “the real victim”. His father referred to his son raping an unconscious woman as “20 minutes of action“.
It’s days like this that I feel like giving up on the world and giving up on political activism. It feels as though I have been fighting my entire adult life to do the right thing, to undo all the fucking mess that scumbags like the above killers and rapists and politicians created. I feel heartbroken, and what’s more, I feel as though it would be wrong and heartless of me to respond in any other way. It feels shallow and frivolous to try to focus on the positives, like the fact that I went for afternoon tea yesterday.
Right now, I’m sick of angrily retweeting right-on political analysis in the hope that it could change just one person’s mind, I’m sick of reading articles on what to do when a gunman opens fire in your building “just in case”, I’m sick of hearing hollow reassurances that I’m doing my bit, I’m sick of feeling like humans are the fucking worst and that nothing will ever change, I’m sick of watching rich white men stamp all over vulnerable people for the sake of maintaining their own positions of power. It feels as though with every big step forward – marriage equality in the US – there is a step backward. I’m angry, I’m afraid, I’m devastated, but mostly I’m just tired.