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Op-Ed: Seddique Mateen Attended a Clinton Rally, and That’s Okay

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“I Love the United States,” U.S. Citizen Seddique Mateen Said

Seddique Mateen attended Hillary Clinton’s rally on Monday in Kissimmee, Florida.

Kissimmee is around 30 minutes south of Orlando. Mateen’s attendance is in the news because he is the father of the Pulse Nightclub shooter, a terrorist responsible for the deaths of 49 people and the injuries of 53 more in the deadliest anti-gay hate crime in U.S. history, the deadliest terror attack since 9/11, and the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Tory Dunnan of WPTV first broke the news of Mateen’s attendance at the rally, which began with Clinton expressing her gratitude for “the leadership and the people of Orlando and Central Florida for [their] love and compassion.” She continued, “I know how many people, loved ones and friends, are still grieving… I want them to know that we will be with you.”

Clinton, who visited the site of Pulse Nightclub personally and privately met with the families and friends of the victims in an unpublicized event, offered that “we will be with you as you rebuild your lives, as you rebuild hope for the future, because we can’t ever let that kind of hatred and violence break the spirit, break the soul, of any place in America.”

When asked if Clinton’s campaign knew he would be attending, or if that they knew he was sitting directly behind her, Mateen advised that “it’s a Democratic party, so everyone can join.”

Clinton’s campaign released a statement to WPTV today, advising “[the] rally was a 3,000-person, open-door event for the public. This individual wasn’t invited as a guest and the campaign was unaware of his attendance until after the event.”

The Clinton campaign has since denounced his support.

A co-worker shared with me a few of the news stories which were beginning to circulate concerning the matter, knowing that I am both gay and a Hillary Clinton supporter. “This might make you mad,” he warned.

It did.

Not for the reason some may have thought; not because Seddique Mateen had the “audacity” to attend. Because that in opposition of factual data and research, conservative media outlets and failed politicians took to social media to offer their position on the matter, sharing false information to boot: 

As a registered Democrat and as someone who has subscribed to receive email from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, I can attest to being made aware of her visit to my own city days before she was scheduled to appear (and subsequently make her Kissimmee appearance.) I RSVP’d in hope that I could attend, just as any interested party could have done for Kissimmee’s event:

Screen_Shot_2016-08-09_at_1.16.11_PM.png

After you RSVP, you receive a confirmation email providing the specifics: when, where, parking, arrival details and security information, the last of which likens the event to airport-style security. (They do not, however, check your ID.) The email begins, “Friend, you are receiving this email because you have RSVP’d to join Hillary Clinton…”

My email did not begin with “Ryan Jent,” and thus, Seddique Mateen’s wouldn’t have begun with his name. This mirrors the statements that both the campaign and Mateen made: RSVPs do not a personal invitation make.

Even if they did, however, Seddique Mateen is a human being. The father of another human being responsible for unforgivable, heinous actions, yes, but a human being and a United States citizen just the same. WPTV inquired about his attendance at the event, asking if he thought it may surprise others. “Why should they be surprised?” he asked. “I love the United States, and I’ve been living here a long time.”

His right to attend a public rally, particularly during an election cycle featuring a candidate who has demonized the entirety of the Muslim community (going so far as to attack even the parents of a fallen soldier), is unquestionable to me.

His right to support a candidate who lobbies for common sense gun control, when he himself has denounced the actions of his son, is unquestionable to me. 

It’s understandable that some may see his attendance, or at least his position directly behind Clinton, as being in poor taste. (Though I’m forced to wonder if Timothy McVeigh’s parents, or the parents of a Columbine shooter, would face the same scrutiny.) But we cannot rally against Seddique Mateen simply because he was there. We cannot rally against him because he’s Muslim, or when the only crime he’s “guilty” of is that he’s the father of a madman. We cannot rally against him for the politically-infused videos he’s posted on YouTube, which the Associated Press has found “did not show support by Mateen for the Taliban,” and are often publicized as incoherent or pro-Taliban due to their (perhaps spastic) nature.

We cannot even rally against him because of his oft-misquoted comment on homosexuality, in which he actually said that ‘on the issue… it can be punished only by God, it is not the business of a person. [Omar] has killed those people, and I am so saddened.”

This is not the same thing as saying that homosexuality will be, or should be, punished by God. It is not denouncing the LGBT community, it is denouncing his son’s actions. It is not courting to anti-LGBT hate groups, in which Donald Trump is again scheduled to do. 

It is one man’s opinion, an opinion which we have the opportunity to change with our actions and our reactions.

I wouldn’t have Seddique Mateen afraid to show his face anywhere, let alone at a rally for American citizens supporting a candidate and party that promises inclusion and unity rather than the party that promises extradition and despair.

This isn’t news. It shouldn’t be news. Do not make it news. And certainly do not use it as news to deflect another presidential candidate’s calls for the assassination of his opponent. Last night, Senior Advisor to the Trump campaign Boris Epstein did just that on “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.”

When pressed on Trump’s comments, he deflected, “I’d also love to talk about issues like the Orlando killer’s father being at the Hillary Clinton event, front and center… right behind her… saying he was invited there by the Democratic party. What does that say about where she stands on terrorism, and where she stands on safety?”

I had the opportunity to ask O’Donnell what he thought about Epstein’s deflection via his Facebook Live broadcast which followed the episode, seen below at the 5:57 mark:

Posted by The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell on Tuesday, August 9, 2016

“That’s a separate subject,” O’Donnell responded candidly. “…at a rally with thousands of people, you’re not responsible for everybody who shows up. I think you are responsible for the kind of people who show up on a regular basis, and when you regularly attract white supremacists and people like that… or any group that you regularly attract, you can say there’s something this campaign is doing to attract them.” 

We’ve seen groups that the Trump campaign has continuously attracted, and David Duke has long been a supporter. As a U.S. citizen, I know which campaign rally I’d rather attend, and I can say that it’s likely Seddique Mateen went for similar reasons. 

I’ve said before that criminalizing the Muslim community for the actions of one man is not okay, and likewise, criminalizing even one man for the actions of another isn’t okay either. The LGBT community has been the Muslim community, we’ve been in Seddique Mateen’s position: hated, feared, misunderstood. Questioned, berated, threatened, afraid.

We must never condone treating an entire community, nor even one man, as poorly as the LGBT community has been treated, and certainly not because of the actions of one man. When you come for one minority, you come for us all.

Clinton’s full Kissimmee speech can be seen below. In it, Clinton advises that “this election really does come down to what kind of people we are in our country. What kind of values we really cherish. And I am proud to be on the side of those who want to build a positive, optimistic future.”

Seddique Mateen is visible in the video, along with dozens of others who attended the 3,000-person event. Dozens of others who advocate that as a community, as a people, as a nation, yes: we are stronger together.

All of us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se4EGsU7pFQ

 

Image: Screenshot via YouTube

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CRIME

Highland Park Shooting Deaths Include Both Parents of Two Year Old Found at Scene of July 4th Massacre

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On Twitter Sunday afternoon in the aftermath of the July 4th Highland Park mass shooting a photo of a young boy appeared in several tweets. He was described as lost, good samaritans assumed he had become separated from his parents in the mayhem of the massacre, and people were trying to reunite him with his family.

CBS Chicago reporter Marissa Parra now reveals the boy’s name is Aiden, but he won’t be reunited with his parents: both were shot dead by the Highland Park gunman.

“Kevin McCarthy, 37, and Irina McCarthy, 35, were among the seven people [who] were killed during the mass shooting,” CBS Chicago reports.

“We took him to safety under tragic circumstances, came together to locate his grandparents, and prayed for the safety of his family,” reads the story on a GoFundMe page hoping to raise money for Aiden.

“Sadly, I need to share his name…Aiden McCarthy. And he needs more of our help,” it adds. “At two years old, Aiden is left in the unthinkable position; to grow up without his parents,” it adds. “Aiden will be cared for by his loving grandparents, Misha and Nina Levberg, and he will have a long road ahead to heal, find stability, and ultimately navigate life as an orphan. He is surrounded by a community of friends and extended family that will embrace him with love, and any means available to ensure he has everything he needs as he grows.”

About $475,000 has quickly been raised with more than 7600 people contributing. The top donation is $5000.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Invasion’: Texas Lt. Gov. Likens Border Crossings to Attack on Pearl Harbor – ‘These People Are a Danger to America’

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Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, a far-right Republican, is comparing migrants crossing the border into Texas to Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that killed 2335 people. He is calling it an “invasion” and says that gives the state the right to “put hands on people.”

Patrick, who because of Texas’ unique structure is more powerful than the governor, told Fox News on Tuesday, “we are being invaded, and if we’re being invaded under the constitution I think that gives us the power to put hands on people and send them back. Put hands on people and send them back,” he said repeatedly.

“These people are a danger to America,” Patrick said in a rant. It was unclear if he was referring to migrants or President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The Lt. Governor, who has hawked the racist “great replacement theoryrepeatedly, and used the term “invasionrepeatedly, told Fox News that Texas is now spending $4 billion annually on the border, while Texas National Guardsmen and Texas Rangers complain of being called up to serve, having to abandon their regular jobs, for no apparent reason.

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Blames ‘Video Game Industry’ for El Paso White Supremacist Terrorism: ‘We’ve Always Had Guns’

“This is the biggest danger we have, to your family,” Patrick says of the fentanyl crossing the border. “It’s all on Biden,” he claimed.

Last week Texas Governor Greg Abbott drew extensive criticism for using the deaths of more than 50 migrants packed into an 18-wheel tractor-trailer as a political opportunity to attack President Biden. Even some conservatives attacked Abbott for his inhumane remarks..

 

 

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BREAKING NEWS

7th Victim of July 4th Mass Shooting Dies

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Seven people have now died as a result of a gunman opening fire from a rooftop into an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

The latest victim succumbed to their injuries Tuesday afternoon, NBC 5 Chicago reported. Authorities have not identified all the victims, but have said five of those who died were adults. Another 46 people were wounded.

Police on Tuesday announced that the shooter fired at least 70 rounds into the crowd, using a “high-powered rifle” that is “similar” to a AR-15. They also revealed the suspected gunman planned the attack for weeks, purchased his weapons legally, disguised himself by wearing women’s attire to “conceal his facial tattoos and  his identity,” and to “help him during the escape.” He then walked to his mother’s house after the shooting.

Law enforcement Monday evening arrested Robert Crimo, who they say is a “person of interest,” but he has not been charged.

“There are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community,” Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams, their futures. There are no words I can offer to lift the pain of those they leave behind. Please know that our state grieves with you, that MK and I grieve with you.”

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