Muslims, LGBTQ activists: ‘Blame the system for Orlando shooting’

By L.T. Pham
June 12, 2016


June 12 — As LGBTQ communities mourn — and vow to fight — in the wake of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the mainstream media has attempted to ratchet up anti-Muslim sentiment in response.

In the early morning hours of June 12 a shooter opened gunfire during the Latin night at the Pulse club in Orlando, resulting in the deaths of 50 people and nearly as many injured. This tragedy comes at a time when anti-LGBTQ terror has been heightened by the passage of anti-trans legislation in North Carolina and across the South.

While initially ignoring that the attack targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, the big business media has begun crafting a narrative that fortifies the U.S.’s imperialist wars — at home and abroad — targeting people in the Middle East, Muslims and followers of Islam. The greatest proponents of terrorism, however, are the U.S. capitalist government and the Pentagon, which attempt to dislodge progressive revolutions in Venezuela and Bolivia while threatening socialist Cuba; kill thousands of civilians in countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan; and have invaded, occupied and killed countless millions from Mexico to the Philippines.

An organizer and a Cuban Muslim, Abdul Hakeem Peña, told Workers World: “What happened in Orlando is a disgustingly tragic event targeting the LGBTQ community and the Latino community. This is reflective of the hostile times we live in and the violent fervor instigated by [U.S. presidential candidate] Donald Trump’s rhetoric, as well as the U.S. government’s ‘war on terror’ and war on LGBTQ and other oppressed groups. This is not an Islamic attack, but an attack of anger and hatred that was misdirected. Anger and hatred have no religion.

“In this the holiest month of Ramadan,” continued Peña, “in which Muslims practice charity and goodwill to all humanity, let us not get worked up and be driven to acts of violence against our fellow working class and fellow strugglers against the capitalist system — which only teaches humanity to be bloodthirsty against the enemies of capitalism. Let us stand in solidarity. Let us unite with the Muslim community and say ‘As Salamu Alaykum! Peace be upon all of you!’

“We cannot make enemies of each other; anti-Muslim hysteria quickly becomes mass shootings that targets Muslims and those assumed to be Muslims — such as the shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012 that killed six and injured four in a Sikh temple. Moreover, this hysteria is used to justify wars for profit and capital, disguised as a patriotic feat to defend the U.S. against foreign enemies.”

Capitalist politicians = no solidarity for working class

Earlier this year, Florida Gov. Rick Scott supported the state Legislature as it attempted to pass an anti-trans “bathroom bill” which would criminalize transgender people for using the restroom that best aligns with their identity.

Following the tragedy in Orlando, reactionary, anti-LGBTQ, anti-poor, racist Gov. Scott wants the state to do everything in its power to defend against this “act of terror.” It comes as no surprise that capitalist politicians want the working class to forget their reactionary positions in order to serve the interests of big media and the bosses.

Imani Henry, a Black trans activist with the Peoples Power Assembly, said, “The irony of this tragedy is that we live in a country where Black and Brown lives, especially LGBTQ ones, DO NOT matter. Black and Brown LGBTQ people are treated as second class on a daily basis — we are discriminated against at every turn and struggle just to have jobs, housing, health care, and access to education in the U.S. We live in constant fear of anti-LGBTQ violence, which many times goes unreported because of the further humiliation and violence we experience at the hands of cops and courts. Does the U.S. government care about trans women of color, many of whom live below the poverty line, and are murdered in record numbers in the U.S.?

“It is a shame,” said Henry, “that the Black Lives Matter movement, a specifically Black LGBTQ-led movement, is deemed a ‘terrorist’ organization and vilified in the press, with cops sanctioned to have a militarized presence at our demonstrations. That right-wingers can shoot BLM activists and not be prosecuted, but BLM leaders — most recently Jasmine Abdullah, a Black and queer activist in Pasadena — can be sentenced to 90 days in jail under a ‘public lynching’ law while the cops who murdered Freddie Gray, Akai Gurley, Shantel Davis, Ramarley Graham and countless more get no time at all.”

Teresa Gutierrez, campaign manager for the Workers World Party election campaign of Monica Moorehead for President and Lamont Lilly for Vice President, stated: “As a Mexican lesbian, my heart is heavy today for my sisters and brothers and all my LGBTQ family gunned down on Latino Party Night at Pulse Night Club. But I blame the system, not the shooter, for this tragedy. It is Trump’s racist rhetoric that is to blame. It is President Barack Obama’s mass deportations, [presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton’s war machine that is to blame. Mexicans and others have shown in California, New Mexico and Illinois the answer: Fight back, shut it down. We will not go back. Let us dedicate Pride this month to the Pulse martyrs.”