There is no place in a civil society for acts of barbarism. On, Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12, 2016 Omar Mateen, the shooter in the Orlando, Florida night club massacre, committed such an act. Whatever his motives, his actions were wrong. There is absolutely no justification for the horrific act of violence he inflicted on innocent people.
According to media reports, the Pulse is a popular gathering place for members of the LGBT community. Many believe that is why Mateen chose to attack the patrons there. If that assumption is true, it is imperative that people outside of the LGBT community explicitly and boldly condemn attacks against LGBT people.
To eradicate injustice people of goodwill, who are not directly negatively affected by the unfairness perpetrated against an individual or group, must work alongside the oppressed to offer support and to eliminate the factors that cause suffering. Such was the case in the fight to end slavery and Jim Crow Law in America.
The American abolitionists took measures to eradicate slavery at the risk of great harm to themselves and their families. They faced, and many experienced, death, incarceration, loss of wealth and status, and being ostracized by loved ones. Likewise, many non-Blacks who fought alongside the black activists of the 1950s and 1960s to end Jim Crowe Law suffered fates similar to those of the early abolitionists. Those who lived through the struggle recall the brutality that took the lives of the Freedom Riders-blacks and whites- and the suffering inflicted on all who dared speak openly against discrimination and who worked to eliminate racist practices in America.
Non-black abolitionists and Freedom Fighters had everything to lose and little to gain by openly joining blacks in the struggle for justice, a struggle we are still battling. Non-blacks were better positioned within their own core groups than blacks to highlight the errors in moral reasoning that facilitated oppression. They used their positions to aid in the fight for black liberation.
Citing the Constitution and sacred texts they appealed to members of their own circles to stop the inhumane treatment of blacks. Blacks could not have won the battle alone because they needed access to resources they simply did not control.
As a result of non-blacks working alongside blacks in the struggle for liberation, we Blacks are beneficiaries of the following. (The list is intended to highlight some of the liberties gained by Black Americans. It is not inclusive and it does not address the institutional racism that still exist in this country.)
- The right to vote
- The right to receive a free and quality public education
- The right to live wherever we can afford and to attend the schools of our choosing
- The right to earn the same amount as our white counterparts
- The right to drive or walk in any neighborhood without threat of illegal incarceration
- The right to receive treatment at any hospital and to be treated by competent medical staff
- The right to eat at any restaurant and to shop in any store
Young Americans and those new to the country, tend to take the aforementioned for granted. However, those of us who lived under Jim Crowe Law remember well that just a few decades ago many things on the preceding list were not the norm for African Americans. Those things came about because of the sacrifices made by people from all walks of life working together to change America for the better.
Similarly, the time has come for all Americans of good will to openly oppose violence against members of the LGBT community. To keep silent is wrong and the potential consequences are grave as expressed in the following quote by Aleksandr Solzhemitsyn.
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
God, grant us the courage to stand for justice for all even when we are not personally affected by the injustice.