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No, Donald Trump, You Can’t Blame American Muslims for Orlando

Donald Trump
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Omar Mateen had already been investigated by the FBI, twice, but the right policies on domestic terrorism and gun control were not in place to stop him. 

When Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton met in St. Louis for the second presidential debate Sunday night, LGBT voters were hoping for a more thorough discussion about the future of their rights. They were, yet again, disappointed.

While the acronym "LGBT" itself wasn't uttered by either candidate, each did touch on policies important to queer Americans. Clinton brought up same-sex marriage when talking about her potential Supreme Court pick to replace Antonin Scalia, noting that she wants "a Supreme Court that will stick with marriage equality."

Trump, on the other hand, brought up Orlando, the site of this summer's deadly attack on the Pulse nightclub. Gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 and injured 53 others at the LGBT nightclub, prompting a national conversation on domestic terrorism and gun control among LGBT people.

The Republican presidential nominee had some thoughts about Orlando.

"Muslims have to report the problems when they see them," he said. "And, you know, there's always a reason for everything. If they don't do that, it's a very difficult situation for our country, because you look at Orlando and you look at San Bernardino and you look at the World Trade Center. Go outside. Look at Paris. Look at that horrible -- these are radical Islamic terrorists."

He was responding to an audience question from a Muslim voter who wanted to know how she could deal with "the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country."

In his answer, Trump is both ignoring the strong cooperation between Muslims and law enforcement and co-opting LGBTs in his relentless crusades against American Muslims. That's how he and his queer supporters have used LGBTs since at least the convention. That's how some LGBTs have chosen to respond to Orlando: with hatred for the Muslim community.

This is wrong.

It's wrong in two ways. First, it's wrong in the facts leading up to Mateen's attack on Pulse. Even if Muslims in Mateen's Florida community or at Mateen's mosque--which was set on fire in September--had reported their suspicions, what would have happened next? The FBI would have likely investigated Mateen. Then, as the narrative likely goes in Trump's head, he might have been charged and prosecuted or placed on a watchlist--perhaps even the "no-fly" list.

What we have to remember is that Mateen was investigated by the FBI--twice. He was on the terror list until 2014, when the FBI removed him for insufficient evidence. And nothing--not the investigation, not being on a watchlist, not even being fired from a corrections officer training program for joking about bringing a gun to class--would have been legal grounds to prevent him buying the weapons that killed so many at Pulse.

Related: Why I Can't Come Out as a Queer Muslim

Trump's alliance with LGBTs against American Muslims is also wrong because it goes against the fundamentals of what it means to be queer. LGBT people in U.S. know what prejudice feels like. Our rights are under constant attack. We are denied jobs, housing, health care, and more. We are victims of heinous assaults, sexual abuse, and murder. But we have turned that pain into a political movement. Now, Trump and the LGBTs who support him want to turn that momentum into a force of oppression against Muslims, our vulnerable compatriots seeking a better America--just like us.

Ducking questions on domestic terrorism, flat out refusing to look at responsible gun ownership, blaming innocent Muslim civilians for the deadliest attack on LGBTs in history--this may be the best that Trump ever gets. But we are better. It's time to show it.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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