Well, it’s now been some 36 hours since the tragedy in Orlando, and a lot of the information that we did not know yesterday is starting to come out.
- We now know that the attacker, Omar Mateen, 29, born in New York to Afghan parents, pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack.
- We know he had previously been strongly irritated when he saw two men kissing in public in Miami.
- We know it took police three hours to storm into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando to end the standoff.
- We know the attacker used the same type of military-style assault rifle that was used in Newtown, Conn., Roseburg, Ore., Aurora, Colo. and San Bernardino, Calif.
- We know that the FBI had investigated Mateen for several months for his possible ties to terrorism, but did not find enough evidence to take action.
- It’s also being reported that Mateen was witnessed inside the Pulse nightclub on previous occasions, and that he even used gay dating apps.
As much as I wanted to avoid reading and watching news about this atrocity, I knew that doing so would only feed into ignorance. If I wanted to engage in any rational conversation about what happened, then it’s important that I know the facts so I’m not spewing misinformation. Because that helps nobody.
So that’s my first piece of advice. Don’t make blind assumptions. Strive to find out the truth. It’s one thing to remain ignorant, but it’s worse to spread your ignorance on others.
Yesterday I may have been slightly guilty of that. I lamented our nation’s tendency to divide during times of tragedy.
But maybe I spoke too soon.
Because, unbelievably, on Monday, there were inspiring moments throughout the globe that showed that maybe, just maybe, there is hope.
First, there was the amazing response of all the people who flocked to blood banks throughout Orlando to donate to the injured victims.
Then there was the vigil at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, an iconic backdrop in the history of the Gay Civil Rights Movement in America after police stormed the building in 1969 because it was serving as a safe haven for gay couples.
And then there was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s heartfelt and touching sonnet he read aloud at the Tony Awards on Sunday night in response to the shooting.
So I retract some of my post from yesterday. I was understandably frustrated. But perhaps it was too soon to give up on humanity.
Maybe there is hope for us yet.