The public grieves & rages over the Orlando shooting, seeking answers in varied ways

Around 2 a.m. early Sunday morning, Omar Mateen entered Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, and opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring over 50 more in the deadliest mass shooting the U.S. has ever seen. The police have so far released the names of 36 of the victims: 33 men and 3 women. The Obama administration identified the shooting as “an act of terror and an act of hate.”

President Obama also stated that Mateen was inspired by extremist information on the Internet, but that there is no evidence of him having any contact with ISIL or being a part of a larger conspiracy.

In the face of such a tragic and senseless act of mass violence committed without warning, the world searches answers. Why did he do it? What is blame? And what can be done to prevent it in the future? Is it a case of Islamic extremism? Poor gun control laws? American homophobia? Toxic masculinity?

It seems there are no easy answers. However, Mateen shares characteristics with other mass shooters who demonstrate very clear patterns of male violence.

Mateen’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusifiy, told the press her ex-husband abused her: “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.” (Despite this, the Washington Post reported that Mateen’s family said he had “no record of previous hate crimes.”)

Within this public conversation, seeking to bring reason to insanity, a debate has emerged over what Mateen’s primary motivations were. Many downplayed the role of Islamism or ISIL extremists, while others pointed out that the homophobic aspects of the religion should be acknowledged.

American liberals used the incident to highlight the need for stricter gun control, while Republicans placed the blame squarely on Islamism.

Donald Trump immediately used the tragedy in order to gain support for his proposal to ban Muslims from the U.S.

And others, like Roosh, saw the shooting as an opportunity to promote vile myths and make bigoted violence about him and his misogynistic agenda:

Hashtags like #lovewins and #loveislove started trending as a way for people across the world to show solidarity with those affected by the Orlando shooting and the LGBT community at large. A general theme emerged, expressing “love will triumph over violence,” urging people to “spread love not hate.”

As the world grieves, it is natural to seek explanations for what happened and look for ways to prevent similar incidences from happening in the future.

Unfortunately, however, it will take more than vaguely “spreading love” to change the world. It will take fighting for tangible improvements. As the Orlando shooting is instrumentalized through various political agendas in the coming days, months, and years, hopefully some justice will result from the global shock, horror, and outrage we are now experiencing.

Susan Cox

Susan Cox is a feminist writer and academic living in the United States. She teaches in Philosophy.