Side agendas once again upstage victims after Pulse shooting

A sign posted at a candlelight vigil held in Ybor City to honor those victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. ORACLE PHOTO/JACOB HOAG

Early Sunday morning our nation was once again scarred by the hateful acts of an intolerant individual. And, like always, we are ignoring the real problem.

Omar Mateen, 29, walked into an LGBT nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning and unleashed a literal nightmare on all those seeking a night of relaxation and fun within Pulse’s walls. Over 100 people were shot making the attack the worst mass shooting in American history.

Any American with half a heart was overwhelmed with outrage and sorrow at the senseless massacre. However, instead of focusing on the real issue, many are choosing to channel their anger toward a problem that, while serious, is not the true cause of this disaster.

Yes, Mateen called 911 moments before the shooting and pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS. This, however, was not an Islamic attack on America.

When Mateen walked into Pulse deciding he had the right to take the lives of his fellow Americans he wasn’t calling on a religious belief to justify his actions. No, Mateen was reacting to an intense prejudice against the LGBT community.

This was not a religious attack. This was a hate crime.

Unfortunately, it was a hate crime against the LGBT community and most Americans would rather dump fuel onto the explosive flame of anti-Muslim hate so many in our country hold than to fight for the rights of a community most have spent their entire lives condemning or regarding with a damning indifference.

It is time we stop using this to feed our own prejudices and instead let this be the moment we decide enough lives have been lost and fight for real change in our home. Mateen’s own family recognized the true motives behind Sunday’s attack.

Why can’t we?

Seddique Mateen, the gunman's father, recalled a recent event that may have spurred Mateen into action.

"He saw two men kissing each other in front of his wife and kid and he got very angry," Seddique told NBC News on Sunday.

"They were kissing each other and touching each other and he said, 'Look at that. In front of my son they are doing that.' And then we were in the men's bathroom and men were kissing each other… This had nothing to do with religion."

Let’s say that one more time for those who have lived with their hands over their ears for the past few decades. This had nothing to do with religion.

The LGBT community has faced persecution and judgment for as long as they’ve been brave enough to face the public.

Yes, America has finally started to abandon the archaic laws restricting rights and freedoms to a large percentage of its citizens. But that long overdue progress does not mean the LGBT community is suddenly fully supported and capable of living equal lives along with the rest of white, rich, heterosexual America.

Just go on Facebook and start scrolling through the Finding Dory tag — yes, the children’s movie about talking fish — you’ll find a plethora of hateful comments directed toward the “gays ruining this country.”

Don’t take one small detail in this horrific incident and use it to smother the reality just because it’s easier to justify your outrage. You should be shaking with rage over the fact that at least 50 Americans lost their lives regardless of what they identify as. Be outraged!

But grant the victims the respect they deserve and be angry that we live in a society where a group of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted for rights for which they shouldn’t have to fight.

You want to channel your passion? Great. Donate to support groups for the LGBT community, go to PRIDE and show your love to your neighbor, speak up when Greg starts posting hateful statements online and don’t dismiss targeted hate crimes by viewing them through a biased lens that allows your privilege to skew the image.

Yes, religious fanatics are causing destruction worldwide. But that is not what caused our pain Sunday morning. You want to “make America great again?” Start standing up for those whose rights are being trampled in the mud.

Oh, and perhaps revisit the ludicrous gun laws that make it acceptable that we are 165 days into 2016 and have already had 133 mass shootings.