It’s been 24 hours and we already have the first political reactions to the terrorist attack in Orlando by a radical Islamist, killing more than 50 people and wounding at least 53. The shooter Omar Mateen was killed in the attack, witnesses said he shouted “Allahu Ahkbar” as he began shooting. He also called 911 before the attack, expressing his allegiance to ISIS.
President Barack Obama has already labeled it a problem with guns, this attack was “a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a nightclub.” He apparently did not utter the words “radical Islam.”
Hillary Clinton did not follow Obama’s lead, saying she would work to defend our borders and defeat terrorism (at least she recognizes the problem). She expressed her support for the LGBT community (as if ISIS didn’t hate everybody…). “To the LGBT community: please know that you have millions of allies across our country. I am one of them. We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America,”
Donald Trump initially expressed sympathy for the victims but doubled down on his campaign rhetoric. According to a tweet “Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?” Apparently he received many messages telling him his stance on Muslim immigration is correct.
In a longer statement that afternoon, Trump chastised Obama and Clinton for not using the term “radical Islam.” “Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse,” he said. “I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.”
Trump mentioned that he predicted the attack and doubled down on his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
Bernie Sanders followed Obama’s lead. “Twenty-five years ago, I believed that in this country that we should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people,” the Vermont senator added. “We have got to do everything that we can on top of that to make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of those who should not have them: criminals, people who are mentally ill. So that struggle continues.”
Author’s note: A number of politicians and commentators labeled this a “hate crime” because the victims were in a gay bar. But radical Islamists hate every body. It could just as easily been a catholic girls school, a Jewish recreation center or any of hundred different groups incompatible with the Muslim faith.